What exactly is the time frame and how is the situation in Nigeria? I know that the plot takes place in post-colonial Nigeria. But is there a given time frame in which these military coups happened?
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Both Kambili and the nation are on the cusp of dramatic changes. The political climate of Nigeria and the internal drama of the Achike family are intertwined. After Nigeria declared independence from Britain in 1960, a cycle of violent coups and military dictatorship led to civil war, which led to a new cycle of bloody unrest. Even democracy is hindered by the wide-spread corruption in the government.
In Purple Hibiscus, there is a coup that culminates in military rule. Papa and his paper, the Standard, are critical of the corruption that is ushered in by a leader who is not elected by the people. Ironically, Papa is a self-righteous dictator in his own home. He is wrathful towards his children when they stray from his chosen path for them. In the wake of Ade Coker’s death, Papa beats Kambili so severely she is hospitalized in critical condition. Both in Nigeria and in the home, violence begets violence.
Kambili and Jaja are kept away from the unrest at first. They witness protests, deadly roadblocks, and harassment from the safety of their car. But when they arrive in Nsukka, they are thrust into political debate. Obiora says the university is a microcosm for Nigeria – ruled by one man with all the power. Pay has been withheld from the professors and light and power are shut off frequently. Medical workers and technicians go on strike and food prices rise. There are rumors that the sole administrator is misdirecting funds intended for the university. This is a parallel to what is happening in the country at large. Kambili and Jaja now understand firsthand the struggle of their cousins. The personal becomes political, and vice versa.