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Negotiating growth in turbulentscapes: Violence, secrecy and growth in Goretti Kyomuhendo’s Secrets No More
The traditional Western variant of the Bildungsroman explores the dialectic of growth and change in the developmental process of the protagonist and how he is socialized into the society. However, most of the criticism on the form hardly explores the growth process of a child who suffers partial dementia as a result of human evil and sadism. This essay therefore, examines how a partially demented child- protagonist negotiates her identity in the absence of her parents and the comfort zone of a nuclear family in Goretti Kyomuhendo’s Secrets No More. The protagonist negotiates the growth process around the turbulent national space, a trans-ethnic community of orphans and provincial subjects and the heavily patriarchal familial base where she struggles for self-assertion through a kind of voicing which is not associated with speech. In order to understand the developmental or growth process of the child- protagonist, I organize my argument around the possible violence of varied kinds performed on the body of the girl-child and the family and how she constructs identity from the limited choices she is offered in a turbulent African space where parental agency and guidance are unavailable for the child to emulate models in order to construct her own identity. Applying some of the theoretical positions of some Bildungsroman scholars, I will demonstrate through close reading, how Secrets No More aptly articulates some of the fundamental features of the narrative of growth.
Keywords: African child-figure, Bildungsroman, dementia, Goretti Kyomuhendo, identity.