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Funny Bits from ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Hellurr Book Lovers,

How’s it going?

What have you guys been reading lately?

I feel like any book from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is always an excellent read. I have read Americanah a couple of times, and to me that book is a stress reliever. It’s just hilarious. There were so many funny Nigerian bits, I could not even cope.

This book chronicles the Nigerian immigrant experience and how different races see and address the subject of race, and those nuances are really funny. I remember the analogy that Shonda Rhimes gave about the movie, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’-that movie is really about how hard it is to find an assistant. Yeah, it is clothed with a lot of fashion nuances, but the whole assistant struggle and all are what that movie is really about.

In the same vein, the plot of Americanah really just provides an avenue for the narration of the Nigerian immigrant experience, and a vivid description of the peoples of the world.

Sometimes, when I feel tired, I go back to reread some of the funny bits of Americanah. This is where I will give you a heads up if you do not like spoilers. You should probably pause here and decide if you actually want to go any further. If you are okay with that, here are some funny bits:

1. When Ifemelu’s Dad was fired for refusing to call his boss ‘Mummy’

‘He was fired for refusing to call his new boss Mummy. He came home earlier than usual, wracked with utter disbelief, his termination letter in his hand, complaining about the absurdity of a grown man calling a grown woman Mummy because she had decoded it was the best way to show her respect’…Then she (Ifemelu’s mum) added irritably, “If you have to call somebody Mummy to get your salary, you should have done so!”… And Ifemelu knew that, if given another chance, he would call his boss Mummy.’

In Nigeria, we have this culture of calling older people Aunty or Uncle. But being asked to call someone ‘Mummy’ or lose your job just takes the cake.

2. Ifemelu making Sandwiches for Dike

‘…she fried two in a little oil as she was used to doing with Satis sausages. Dike looked in horror….”Can I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead?” Dike asked. She followed his instructions for the sandwich, cutting off the bread crusts, layering on the peanut butter first, stifling her laughter at how closely he watched her, as though she just might decide to fry the sandwich’.

There’s this culture people of the west feel like Africans can’t really do much, like operate a tv remote or use the elevator, so it is always hilarious to see them watch you, even if they do not say anything.

3. Aunty Uju and Dike at a Departmental Store

‘ “Dike, put it back,” Aunty Uju said, with the nasal, sliding accent she put on when she spoke to white Americans, in the presence of white Americans. Pooh-reet-back. And with the accent emerged a new persona, apologetic and self-abasing. She was overeager with the cashier. “Sorry, sorry,” she said as she fumbled to get her debit card from her wallet. Because the cashier was watching, Aunty Uju let Dike keep the cereal but in the car she grabbed his left ear and twisted it, yanked it.’

Whenever I think of this scene, I just imagine children of immigrant Nigerian parents doing funny video clips, mimicking all manner of things. Lol.

4.Ifemelu forgets her fake name

‘Can i see your ID? the woman asked, and then, glancing at the licence, added, “How do you pronounce your name again?”



Ifemelu almost choked, “Ngozi. You hum the N.”

Check out my review of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s ‘My Sister, The Serial Killer’ here

5. Cleotide Crying dramatically as Obinze is arrested

‘A policeman clamped handcuffs around his wrists. He felt himself watching the scene from far away…Cleotide had flung herself on the ground and begun to cry. She might never have visited her father’s country, but he was convinced at that moment of her Africanness; how else would she be able to fling herself to the ground with that perfect dramatic flourish?’

I thought this was funny because it is common knowledge that African women are dramatic, but seeing that drama from someone you do not think is authentically African puts some more humour into it.

6. Obinze and his cellmate

‘…His cellmate…another Nigerian, told him that he was not going to allow himself to be deported. He had a hardened, fleshless face. “I will take off my shirt and my shoes when they try to board me. I will week asylum,” he told Obinze. “If you take off your shirt and your shoes, they will not board you.” He repeated this often, like a mantra…he sank to his knees in the middle of their tiny cell, hands raisee up to the heavens and prayed. ‘Father Lord, I praise your name! Nothing is too much for you! I bless your name!”

I thought this was so hilarious, I read the passage out to my mum. I mean, what is funnier than asking God to bless your super weird plans? LOL.

There are so many other funny bits, about 20 or so, but I don’t want to spoil the fun. I think these few are enough to whet your appetite if you have not read Americanah.

I think there is going to be a mini series based on Americanah, and reproducing these bits would add a lot of colour and nostalgia to it. I mean, I don’t want no mini series that does not capture Aunty Uju screaming at Dike to ‘pooh-reet-down!’


Would you like to read more books this year? I have some great tips here

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