Elvis Oke's Life

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Chris Albani’s novel GraceLand is a coming of age tale that exposes the reader to the many dilemmas a Nigerian may face in life. Although this is a fictional novel it encompasses many cultural, political, and economic truths about Nigeria during 1972-1983. This time period is a bit unstable since the country is attempting to after a long reign of British Colonization. A common theme in this novel is violence where opposing ideals or concepts are present. As reading the novel detailing the many experiences of Elvis Oke’s life one will notice the change of family structure, culture and religion, and morality and ethics due to global economics.
The novel is riddle with disheartening descriptions of changes in the Nigerian family structure. Although
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The most obvious example of culture influence from western society is Elvis Oke’s fascination with the American Phenom Elvis Presley. Two portions about this seem to be the most intriguing. One the fact that Elvis Presley is an American performer that he chooses to reenact. Two foreigners such as vacationers or “pink expatriates baking in the sun” were often Oke’s target market. Both of these things lead to the conclusion that Westerners or Europeans have a great deal of influence on the culture. Altoough Oke is a performer to provide for himself it still show that the monetary power of Westerners can influence culture as well. Then with the influx of missionaries one will see the change from spiritual healers or diviners to major religions such as Christianity. Although there is change one will notice that all of the historic rituals of Elvis’s ancestors have not been wiped away, but instead they have been altered. For example “Christian prayers have been added, and Jesus has replaced Obasi as the central deity” (Abani 2004: 291). This shows the roots of the culture are there but they have truly been distorted. The growth of western culture is creeping in like a weed slowly smothering African culture until Western culture is the only survivor. This consistently becomes more prevalent when you see the increase in African missionaries instead of just white or Anglo-Saxon missionaries.
Morals and ethics change drastically throughout the book. In some ways the change of Africa almost seem to manifest it’s self in Elvis Oke. When he was younger it seemed as if he was a young and possibly naïve child. Dreams of becoming a great performer seemed realistic to him. Later he learns that his dream just may be a “pipe dream” never to come true. The following box quote Oke had to come to
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