Quest motif: a search for identity and justice in Mukoma Wa Ngugi’s Nairobi Heat
Identity search and the search for justice are some of the mostly debated themes in African American, as well as African literature. Throughout the history of American literature, different generations of African American writers have tried to find answers to the questions: What is justice in America and who am I as an African American living in the US? The novel Nairobi Heat by MukomawaNgugi is an example of literature that has been written about the theme of quest for justice and the search for identity.MukomawaNgugi is a pure African bred in the US. His literature carries with it the experiences of both blacks from Africa living in the US and the African Americans of American descent. In this novel light is shed on the agonies and the dilemmas of a African American tied by race and at the same time expected to fulfill the needs of the white authorities by finding justice, and he also struggles to define himself within the setting of a white dominated society, for which purposes he traverses the African land. The study investigates quest motif in MukomawaNgugi’s novel Nairobi Heat as a narrative strategy in the presentation of the search for identity and a search for justice. It seeks to show that Mukoma’s narration of a African American’s quest for identity and the quest for justice are intertwined in that, search for Justice for a African American requires him or her to first identify himself. The study employs Social Identity theory, Theory of the Archetypes and Campbell’s Theory of the Quest in the analysis of the aspects of the quests in the novel. The research involved a close reading of the primary texts. Further, I made use of the library and the internet resources for secondary reading. The study concludes that identity and justice for anAfrican American can be satisfactorily achieved if they shun and overcome fear of white patriarchal dominance and this can only be achieved as brought out in the novel- through a visit to one’s ancestry and etablishing a connectionwith it, like Ishmael did by going to Kenya. As MukomawaNgugi isan upcoming author, I suggest that scholarsmayconduct studies on this novel Nairobi Heat and other works by this same author because MukomawaNgugi’sworks represent new generation of Kenyan and African writers, which would largely define the outlook of African literature in the current century.