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Music in “Americanah”

Throughout Americanah, Adichie presents many facets of African culture from the highbrow intellectual touchstones to the more everyday pop culture references that shape Ifemelu’s world from childhood to adulthood. This transition from youth is shown from the cultural references she makes at the beginning of the novel when she describes her first connection with Obinze.

“She became aware of the present, the now, Toni Braxton’s voice from the cassette player, be it fast or slow, it doesn’t let go, or shake me…”

This use of song to enhance the mood of the writing continues throughout the novel until the end. In chapter 52 when she and Obinze are together singing in the car along to Bracket’s Yori Yori, a popular Nigerian song.

“He increased the volume and they sang along; there was an exuberance to the song, its rhythmic joyfulness, so free of artifice, that filled the air with lightness.”

She goes on describe the two singing Obiwon’s “Obi Mu O” and how the song itself mirrored their feelings of desire for each other.

When reading Americanah, I really enjoyed all of the music references and the way in which Adichie allowed her own intimate knowledge of her culture to permeate every facet of her characters lives and experience.

Below is a playlist of some of the songs in the novel as well as some Afro-Beats songs I listened to a lot this summer:







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