Men at the Edge: Margins and Masculinities in Nigerian Migrant Fictions
Most African societies are constructed as patriarchal and consequently structured around a hegemonic conception of masculinity. The male gender stands as the embodiment of authority and a symbol of power and privileges. But, since about the middle of the eighties, and for reasons ranging from economic difficulties, political crisis and war to the quest for educational and professional fulfillment, people from different African communities and countries have been voting with their feet, migrating to different countries of Europe and America. On arrival in their different countries of destination, they find themselves confronted with a different kind of social relations. Men in particular find themselves consigned to the margins of their new societies, with all the powers and privileges they had become used to almost completely abrogated. In short, they discover that they have to adjust to a form of masculinity that can only be described as subordinate.
Recent Nigerian works of fiction focusing on the theme of transnational migration have continued to reflect on this situation. The authors of these works have, among other issues, continued to explore the condition of Nigerian males existing at the edges of their new societies in the diaspora, articulating the untold agony they suffer and the crisis of adjustment they experience. My focus in this paper then lies in the exploration of the perspective of transformed masculinities in Nigerian migrant fiction, focusing specifically on Ike Oguine’s A Squatter’s Tale.