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  • Background to the Study

The concept of the Nigerian Youth encompasses the vast and diverse population of young individuals in Nigeria, typically ranging from adolescence to early adulthood. Nigerian youth represent a significant demographic group that plays a crucial role in shaping the social, economic, and political landscape of the country. With Nigeria being one of the most populous nations in Africa, the youth constitute a substantial portion of the population, bringing with them immense potential, energy, and aspirations. However, the Nigerian youth face a myriad of challenges, including high unemployment rates, limited access to quality education, inadequate healthcare services, and a lack of opportunities for meaningful engagement and empowerment. According to Amos (29) despite these obstacles, Nigerian youth have shown remarkable resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and a strong desire for positive change. They have been at the forefront of various social movements and activism, advocating for good governance, social justice, and accountability. Moreover, Nigerian youth have been instrumental in leveraging technology and digital platforms to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative expression. Recognizing the importance of the Nigerian youth, there have been growing efforts to harness their potential through initiatives focusing on skills development, entrepreneurship support, and inclusive policies.

The Nigerian youth face a multitude of challenges that hinder their progress and development. One of the primary challenges is high unemployment rates, as the demand for jobs far exceeds the available opportunities. This scarcity of employment leads to widespread frustration, underutilization of skills, and a lack of financial independence. Additionally, limited access to quality education and inadequate educational infrastructure pose significant obstacles to the youth, impeding their ability to acquire relevant skills and knowledge for the job market (Adamu 12). The healthcare system in Nigeria also presents challenges, with insufficient facilities, lack of access to quality healthcare services, and inadequate health education. Furthermore, pervasive corruption, political instability, and poor governance contribute to an environment of inequality and limited opportunities for the youth. Inadequate infrastructure, including unreliable power supply and limited access to basic amenities, further exacerbate their struggles. Social issues such as gender inequality, discrimination, and violence also affect the Nigerian youth, hindering their overall well-being and personal growth.

Within the context of globalisation, departure and the movement of people across borders is a phenomenon that has attracted the attention of several academics across and within the disciplines of anthropology, ethnography, social sciences, economic and cultural history, international law and even the visual and literary arts. Multi-layered, socio-political and economic causative factors often necessitate departures. Indeed, the historical antecedents of African departures predate the present time. The continent has particularly experienced several distinctive and definitive historical waves of complex departures dating from the period of slave exploitation to colonialism. In addition, from the period of pro-nationalist calls for independence and the end of apartheid, the subsequent self-rule and the disillusionment following that, Africans have participated in mass movements beyond the continent for diverse reasons; including brain drain, and the search for and pursuit of greener pastures. These have been further intensified by the current spate of globalization resulting in mass departures to Europe, America and even Asia (Ladele & Omotayo 101).

            With the free flow of people, goods and services around the world, several divergent factors complexly define and intensify various patterns of migratory movements. While observing that departures occur in different patterns including forced and voluntary paradigms, Falola et al. (2008) further note that there are cultural and spiritual dynamics of departure in Africa and the African diaspora (p.10). Traditionally, however, departure on the continent has often been considered in masculine terms (Nedson 14). This is essentially because of the stereotypical roles, positions and functions assigned to men and women in many African societies. In more profound ways, however, it becomes clear that the formation of identities may no longer be conceptualised in rigidly fixed terms. In other words, as migrants in new locations/spaces, identities may have to undergo new processes of transmutations as people may have to individually or collectively negotiate social, economic and psychological transformations.

            In recent times however, the demographics of departure are fast changing; age, gender, religion and race are altering traditional perspectives on departure and the indices of gender are beginning to intensify theories of international departure. One of such paradigmatic shifts is in the increasing scale of international sex trafficking and trade which complicates migratory experiences of women. Women are also seeking more financial and economic independence, including independence from their husbands. Thus, more and more women are showing up as migrants in host countries; changing traditional configurations of departure in such spaces, it is therefore useful to begin to re-imagine a feminisation of migratory realities especially because women’s experience as migrants greatly differ from those of men (Ladele & Omotayo 7).

            African writers have themselves for long been caught in the flux and flows of departure. Particularly in the harsh economic period of post-independent African society, many writers had to seek safe havens in neighbouring countries or in distant lands in Britain, Europe and America. Thus, from about the late fifties a tradition of exilic writers began to emerge. Writing from the diaspora, such writers were Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wole Soyinka, Bessie Head, Buchi Emecheta, Doris Lessing, Alex La Guma, and Dennis Brutus among several others. Characterizing their literary productions were motifs and tropes of alienation, isolation and aloneness.

The very act of departure is itself often complexly defined by profound political, social and economic currents implicating the individuality of the writer and, as a matter of course, the materiality of his/her art. Further complicating the demographics of their art are such issues as marginality, liminality, hybridity, identity, inter/crosscultures, home/motherland and the intersections of these as they resonate in various degrees in the art of these writers. In this regard for instance, Chukwudi-Ofoedu (21) notes in that early study, that departure in Africa in general, and in West Africa in particular, has mostly been seen from an overwhelmingly male perspective, especially because of the male predominance in this process.

But writing and publishing in the west have not precluded Africans and women from being the subject and focus of fiction by female diasporic writers of African descent with Chika Unigwe inclusive. As a Nigerian-Belgian writer, Unigwe has found herself writing about the varying gender specific departure experiences of female African migrants in Belgium, a country she herself relocated to upon her marriage to a Belgian. In an early 2008 interview with Azuah (8), Unigwe says to the interviewer it is important to me that I write here and now. And it is important to me that I tell our story. This assertion is further reinforced by the striking similarities between the protagonist of her debut novel, Oge in The Phonix (2005) and Unigwe herself.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Ideally, Nigerian youth should feel a profound connection to their homeland, driven by a sense of opportunity, belonging, and fulfillment. Regrettably, a significant number of Nigerian youth are experiencing an overwhelming sense of urgency to depart from their homeland in search of opportunities and experiences abroad. Nigerian authorities and organizations have, over the years, taken measures to address the issues propelling youth departure. These measures include various employment schemes, educational reforms aimed at enhancing local opportunities, and youth empowerment programs designed to nurture local talent.

Despite these well-intentioned efforts, the trend of Nigerian youth departing for foreign countries not only persists but seems to intensify. The allure of distant shores and the belief in better prospects abroad continue to drive young Nigerians away from their homeland. The effects of this ongoing departure are manifold. At the individual level, it results in a brain drain as Nigeria loses its brightest and most ambitious young minds. At a societal level, it impacts economic development as valuable resources leave the country. Additionally, the departure of youth can strain social cohesion and diminish the cultural vibrancy that is essential for a thriving society.

This research endeavors to delve into the compelling urgency of departure among Nigerian youth and its portrayal in contemporary literature, with a particular focus on two seminal works, Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go and Teju Cole’s Open City. The aim is to comprehend the underlying factors compelling youth to leave their homeland and, crucially, how these factors are vividly represented in these literary narratives. Although existing studies have explored the issue of youth departure in Nigeria, a notable gap exists in the examination of its depiction in contemporary literature. This research seeks to bridge this critical gap by closely analyzing how acclaimed authors, Selasi and Cole, portray the urgency of departure and what profound insights their narratives provide into the intricate and multifaceted reasons driving this phenomenon.

Given the pressing concern of Nigerian youth departing from their homeland and its compelling representation in literature, this research aspires to illuminate the intricate web of factors motivating this trend. By doing so, it aims to contribute valuable insights that may inform policymakers, scholars, and society at large in their efforts to address the challenges posed by the departure of Nigeria’s youth.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The main aim of this study is to examine Nigerian youths and the urgency of departure in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go and Teju Cole’s Open City. Other specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To examine the difficulty faced by the Nigerian youth.
  2. To find out the causes of Nigerian youths’ departure.
  • To exhume the effects these departure on the youths.
  1. To evaluate how the writers have tried to resolve the various acts of departure in the text and apply such to modern society.

1.4. Research Questions

            The following research questions were raised to guide the study:

  1. What are the specific difficulties faced by Nigerian youth as portrayed in the selected literary works?
  2. What are the underlying causes and motivations for the departure of Nigerian youth depicted in the chosen texts?
  • What are the documented effects and consequences of departure on the youth characters in the selected literary works?
  1. How do the authors in the chosen texts address and attempt to resolve the various instances of youth departure, and in what ways can these resolutions be applied to contemporary society?

1.5. Significance of the Study

This study shall be of significance especially now that Africans, especially Nigerians are migrating rapidly to other European countries in search of a better life. It will therefore, be significant to the government, the random reader, parents and future researchers.

To the government, they will see a clear picture of exploitation of migrants from Nigerian to other countries and therefore, they will make our Nigerian society liveable for the common individuals, especially for youths, by providing job opportunities and relief funds. This will be a source of remedy to illegal departures.

To the random youth readership, this study shall benefit them in the sense that they would see the harsh conditions that come with departure. With this knowledge, they would not migrate without a plan of how to survive.

Parents will also provide for their youths so that they will not be tempted by what they see on social media or from friends which might tempt them to migrate to a foreign land in order to live large. Parents will further encourage their children on the dangers of migrating without a plan which includes exploitation.

Curriculum planners will also benefit from this study as they will see the importance of educating the youths on the dangers of migrating to foreign lands without a plan. In the light of this knowledge, they will include Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go and Teju Cole’s Open City as well as other migrant novels in their literature syllabus.

Finally, the study when completed will serve as a reference material to future researchers who will want to further research in the same field. It will add to the already existing body of literature on departure and sexual exploitation.

1.5. Scope/Limitation of the Study

The research work is based on Nigerian Youth and the urgency of departure in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go and Teju Cole’s Open City. Due to time constraint, the research work will be limited to this topic and the texts in question.

1.6 Methodology

This study utilized an explanatory research design to analyze the messages and characteristics related to Nigerian youth and the urgency of departure in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go and Teju Cole’s Open City. The focus was on understanding the meanings associated with these messages rather than quantifying their frequency. The study specifically examined aspects of departure and the reasons behind the youth’s desire to leave Nigeria as depicted in the selected novels. The sample consisted of the two literary works mentioned, which were purposefully chosen for their relevance to the research objectives. Textual extraction was used to collect data, with excerpts and passages from the primary texts being quoted and analyzed. The data analysis involved textual analysis of the primary texts as well as additional materials and critical works related to the topic.

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  • Chapter 1 to 5
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Bank Name: United Bank of Africa (UBA)
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