chapter  5
12 Pages

(M)otherlands

Homesickness and Yearnings for Home in Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing
WithPortia Owusu

The text at the centre of this chapter is Yaa Gyasi’s 2016 acclaimed novel, Homegoing. It explores the concept of home and its thematic persistence in African-American literature. I begin the chapter by providing discourse on the idea of home and its meanings in Black cultural and political discourses. Referencing works by Maya Angelou, W. E. B. DuBois and Kwame Nkrumah, I argue that “home” is often politicised to address social and political inequalities that have excluded Black people from full citizenship and have placed them on the peripheries of their societies. Particularly for African-Americans, the search for home-or feelings of rootlessness-is inseparable from the experience of slavery. Yaa Gyasi contextualises these in her novel. In it, home is both the absence of individuals and places that are integral to one’s sense of self and history. This chapter argues that Gyasi focuses on family ruptures as the root of African and African-American feelings of homesickness and homelessness. Specifically, the reading in this chapter centres on the absence of mothers and motherlands and its significance in the Akan conception of identity and subjectivity.