Three Children's Critical Perspectives on Aspects of the Contemporary East African Social 'Web of Relationships': Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them

Adrian Knapp


This paper will take Hannah Arendt's concept of "the subjective in-between" outlined in The Human Condition (1958) as a starting point for an analysis of the social disruption experienced by children in the three short stories of Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them (2008) that are located in the wider East African region – "An Ex-mas Feast" (Kenya), "What Language Is That?" (Ethiopia) and "My Parent's Bedroom" (Rwanda). This analysis of Akpan's short stories will concentrate on how forms of intra/inter-family and inter/intra-cultural communicative exchange are affected by the violent restructuring of the social "web of relationships" (Arendt, Human Condition 183) emphasising the stories' potential in laying the foundation for a new 'subjective in-between'. The second part of the proposed paper will concentrate on the East African regional setting of the stories and scrutinise its relevance from an international perspective. How does the West feature in these stories of social break down? What options of social regeneration and reconciliation do the stories outline for today's youth and tomorrow's leaders?


Children, Postcolonial, East Africa, War, Religious Strife, Subjective In-Between

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