BETWEEN MOTHER FIXATION AND COLONIAL ATTRACTION: DERACINATION, ILL-FATED MIGRATION, AND REDEMPTION IN KEN BUGUL’S THE ABANDONED BAOBAB
Keywords:Ken Bugul, deracination, mother fixation, colonial attraction, migration, postcolonialism, Electra complex, Othering, ambivalence, redemption
The Abandoned Baobab, Ken Bugul’s brutally sincere autofiction, is the prototypal model of African postcolonial, feminist, and psychological narrative built around the post-traumatic stress disorder, self-flagellation, and “excesses” of a speaking female/colonial subject in desperate need of love. The paper analyzes the protagonist’s alienation, identity crises, and ill-starred sojourn in Europe against the backdrop of maternal attachment and absorption of colonial codes. The study is eclectically anchored on Hendrika C. Freud’s reconstruction of the Electra complex and postcolonial theory. Its major finding is that notwithstanding the protagonist’s anguish at maternal abandonment and her subsequent colonial assimilation, she still employs repressed norms and values associated with the mother/the land/Africa to berate (neo-)colonialists, Westerners, and herself. The paper concludes that the protagonist-narrator redeems herself somehow through the willful adoption of the appellation Ken Bugul, the admission of her errors, and the return to the motherland.