The Famished Road
Ignorance in the Famished Road 12th Grade
Ben Okri's The Famished Road (1991) captures the innocent perspective of a child caught in the turmoil of Nigeria's independence. Azaro, the young protagonist, grows up in an unnamed rural village in the midst of change [presumed to be Nigeria]. An Abiku 'spirit child', he commutes between the spirit and living worlds, his divided ontological state symbolic of the external conflicts between traditional Nigeria, and the imposing western world. As an Abiku, a child 'predestined to death', Azaro's defies his fate in his tenuous survival, tormented by his spirit companions that attempt to take his life and return him to the spirit world.
The Famished Road is a hybrid genre, primarily based on magical realism that allows for the integration of fantastical experiences in realistic fiction. Through this, Okri refutes the assumed superiority of western knowledge systems. He constructs the spirit world as a tangible embodiment of traditional knowledge, equally real to the more familiar reality of the living world. In the disorder of western and Nigerian knowledge systems colliding prior to independence, Okri seeks to reject the assumed superiority of western knowledge; 'Everyone's reality is superstitions' (Okri, 2000). In the novel,...
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