Reflecting the Times: A Journey of Self-discovery in Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come

Reflecting the Times: A Journey of Self-discovery in Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come


Title Page i
Certification ii
Dedication iii
Acknowledgement iv-v
Table of Content vi-vii
Abstract viii
1.0 Introduction
1.1 Background 1-4
1.2 Statement of Problem 4
1.3 Aim and Objectives 4-5
1.4 Scope and Limitation of the Study 5
1.5 Justification of the Study 5-6
1.6 Methodology 6
1.7 Brief Introduction of The Author 6-7
2.0 Introduction 8-10
2.1 Definition of Literature Review 10-11
2.2 Review of Literature on Text 11-13

2.3 Theme of Self Discovery and New Times in Other texts 13-26
2.4 Conclusion 27
3.0 Introduction 28-29
3.1 Analysis of Plot/Storyline 29-31
3.2 Analysis of Setting 32
3.3 Analysis of Characters and Characterization 32-37
3.4 Analysis of Technique 38-41
3.5 Analysis of Theme of Self-Discovery 41-45
3.6 The motif of A Journey of Self-Discovery, Reflecting the Times of
text 45-61
3.7 Everything Good Will Come as a Nigerian Novel 61-62
3.8 Conclusion 63
4.0 Summary 64-65
4.1 Conclusion 65
4.2 Works Cited 66-70


This research work presents A Journey of Self-Discovery reflecting the times of Sefi Atta’s novel Everything Good Will Come. It has examined the growing up of a child from adolescence to adulthood. This research is subjected to textual analysis, using post-colonial paradigm as the framework with a view to highlighting the enduring need for female self-discovery and individuality in neocolonial Nigeria.

This research work also examines the socio-economic and political landscape of Nigeria and how it affects the psychology of the woman. The research work submits that the woman cannot continue in the space defined for her by the society, she must fight for her space both in the home and in the larger society.




Literature as a creative activity projects those deeply ingrained and relatively enduring patterns of thought, feeling and behavior of the society from which it is drawn. Apparently, literature captures the diverse forms of interaction between various parts of a society and its people. Mary Kolawole (2005:9) corroborates this assertion, as she suggests that literature is not only an imitation of life, but also a concept which derives from certain sustainable principles. The varying emphasis on social art, therefore, make literature of great Importance, as it transcend mere entertainment to expose the significant moral and social views of the writer and of his environment which form the nexus for his art. Alberto in Demeterio (2001) also suggests that:

Literature is a social institution: it is created by the writer, who is a member of the society. Its medium is language, which is a social reality. It is addressed to men who form a social body. It is centrally conditioned by social and other forces and in turn, exerts social influence (p.11).

African literature constantly reflect an attempt at narrating the African experience, the struggles associated with imperialism and its relies of denigration and oppression which seem to remain visible features of post-independence Africa. This accounts for the African writer’s attempt at foregrounding the tension that exists within the shores of Africa, with the aim of asserting the African nation above all forms and conventions of imperialism and neo-colonialism. As it were, the African continent seems to stand at the cross road as it negotiates self- redefinition against subtle forms of imperialism while grappling with new forms of subjugation perpetuated within the nation of Africans. Regrettably, the attainment of independence has not automatically portended the realization of the cherished dreams of freedom, responsibility of self-government, socio-political and economic satisfaction. Kehinde and Mbipom (2011:62). A new reality however unfolds, maimed by anarchy, chaos, coups, disillusionment, injustice, betrayal, poverty, social unrest, hunger, oppression, corruption and war.

The African writer and his craft predictably continue to rise to the challenge of remaining committed to his community in the race of diverse socio-political instability and the contending trend of modernization. In crafting an art which is relevant, the African writer not only probes, but also responds to the yearning of his environment. Specifically, contemporary Nigerian prose fiction continues to witness a tremendous emergence of literary works marked by diverse degrees of creative innovation and experimentation. Kehinde and Mbipom (2011:63). However, remarkable in the development of this genre is the creative effort of migrant Nigerian prose fiction writers (Nigerian writers in Diaspora) who project commitment and responsiveness to the socio-political and socio-economic realities of their Motherland through their works. There seems to be a conscious awakening of the Nigerian writer’s, even in the Diaspora, to their responsibility as the conscience of their society.

This study examines Sefi Atta as an example, to illustrate the contributions of migrant novelist. Sefi Atta’s novel displays certain ideological persuasions which express certain socio-political and gender commitment; it could also be described as reflecting self-realization, women-centered and nation-centered in its thematic pre-occupations. These ideological persuasions, as it were, not only project the critical perspective from which Atta writes, but also highlight the issues she fictionalizes as socio-political and socio-economical realities and germane to the contemporary Nigerian society which she narrates from the Diaspora. This is in accordance with Boehmer’s (1995:233) assertion that:

In the 1990’s the generic postcolonial writer is more likely to be a cultural traveler, or an “extra-territorial”; than a national. Ex-colonial by birth, “Third world’ in cultural interest, cosmopolitan in almost every other way, he or she works within the precinct of the western metropolis, while at the same time retaining thematic and/or political connection with a national background.


This research is set to examine the motif of self-discovery reflecting the times in the novel of Sefi Atta in particular to appreciate her patriotic and nationalistic quest to address challenges that face migrant novelist.


The aim of this research is to look upon the prevalent condition that plagued the people especially the Nigerian woman during a post-colonial Nigeria experience as narrated by Enitan, the protagonist, who realizes the marginalization of women in Atta’s Everything Good Will Come as they journey through different phases of self-discovery.

The objectives are to explore the various technique used by Sefi Atta to make statement on self-discovery today, and highlight the significance of such revelations on the plight of modern African woman.


In this research, scope of study shall be on the theme of self-discovery during the post-independence period in Nigeria as portrayed in Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come. The novel is chosen because of its significance in the history and development of Nigeria. The study is centrally limited to assessing the thematic postulations of the novelist.


Many critical works have explored the motif of self-discovery in pre and post colonial Nigeria.

This study is different from the works that have been done before because it will bring a comparative analysis on the motif of self-discovery of the characters in Atta’s Everything Good Will Come, most especially the women folks, and their different attempts in the modern era, viewed to redeem the degraded image of Nigerian woman. Therefore, this study is meant to contribute knowledge as it highlights the new shade of meaning to self-discovery in a modern Nigerian novel.


The research is basically conducted under library review. The materials here are gathered from internet sources, library reviews, and critical content analysis of the text. The multifaceted approach affords the researcher a more balanced viewpoint on the subject under review.


Sefi Atta was born in Lagos in 1964, and has had most of her education in the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Although a Chartered Accountant, She is also a graduate of Creative Writing Programme at the Antioch University, Los Angeles. Her short stories have appeared in journals including Los Angeles Review and Mississippi Review; they have won prizes from Zoetrope and Red Hen Press. Her radio plays have been broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation. She is the winner of PEN international’s 2004/2005 David TK Wong prize, and in 2006, her debut novel Everything Good Will Come, was awarded the inaugural Wole Soyinka Prize for literature in Africa.

Sefi Atta lives in Mississippi with her husband, Gboyega Ranson-Kuti. Her works include A Bit of Difference (2013) Swallow (2010) Everything Good Will Come (2006). She also has a published collection of short stories entitled Lawless (2007).

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