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Home to Hargeisa: Migritude, Pan-Africanism, and the Politics of Movement from Banjo to Black Mamba Boy


French literary theorist Jacques Chevrier argues that immigration is at the heart of contemporary African literature. He calls this new corpus of African literature migritude. Migritude literature provides both a new and sophisticated way of understanding immigration in the era of global capitalism and a critical engagement with it; it lends new perspective to the study of African literature itself by bringing to the fore conditions of diaspora, movement, and migration. Further, these younger authors are often in conversation with earlier generations of the black radical tradition. Somali writer Nadifa Mohamed, for example, not only cites Claude McKay’s 1929 Banjo in her acknowledgements but strategically weaves the wandering Banjo and his black orchestra into her own twenty-first century migritude novel. In this article I analyze the relationship between McKay’s “story without a plot”1 as a (proto)migritude narrative embodying a pan-African politics of movement and Nadifa Mohamed’s 2010 novel Black Mamba Boy as a representative migritude narrative and critique.

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