Proverbial Space and the Dialectics of Place and Displacement in Sade Adeniran’s Imagine This

  • OB Jegede


Literary scholarship on proverb usage in Nigerian literary discourse had focused mostly on canonized writers and the nature, structure, form and context of proverbs in literature. Little work has been done on Sade Adeniran, her novel and the effect of place and displacement on proverb usage. This study is concerned with Adeniran‘s use of proverbs in her debut novel titled Imagine This. The novel, which won the Best First Book award for Commonwealth Writers‘ Prize (Africa Region) in 2008, has not received much critical attention because of the relative newness of the writer and the novel. The current paper examines Adeniran‘s attempt at creating a large proverbial space through her conscious use and structural arrangement of proverb in language. It foregrounds the dialectic of place and displacement, and location and dislocation as a crucible for her identity formation and major factor in appreciating her proverbs in the novel.
Postcolonial theory served as the theoretical framework for the paper. Through the reading of the cultural features, Adeniran‘s techniques of writing which demonstrate her use of proverbs were purposively selected and subjected to content analysis in order to discuss the dynamics of language change in the novel. Proverbs are graphically enacted and foregrounded and Yoruba and English overlap in Imagine This. Through an examination of the implication of location and dislocation on proverb usage in the novel, the novel reveals an abundant usage of techniques of postcolonial writings such as code-mixing, pidginisation, use of proverbs, untranslated words and other language variants through which Adeniran creates a cultural space for herself. Geographical place and displacement as a feature of postcolonial writing imposes a gap that produces linguistic displacement. Therefore proverbs and other language variance and identity as in their literary contexts are areas of postcolonial study that require further research.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057