Mental Health, Minority Discourse and Tanure Ojaide’s Short Stories

Authored by: Stephen Ese Kekeghe

Routledge Handbook of Minority Discourses in African Literature

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367368340
eBook ISBN: 9780429354229
Adobe ISBN:


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Mental health narratives, no doubt, occupy a marginal position in Nigerian literary scholarship. This limitation may have been engendered by the general poor attitudes to mental patients in Nigeria. Until recently, there were series of unhealthy management and demonization of the mentally impaired globally. Ingram compiled autobiographical accounts, from the 15th to 18th centuries, “representing mental illnesses as demon possession” (2). Narratives like Margery Kempe’s The Book of Margery Kempe (1436) and Hannah Allen’s A Narrative of God’s Creation Dealing with That Choice Christian (1683) are notable religious accounts that present the mad as people possessed by demonic spirits. Kekeghe reveals that “narratives of madness shifted from the obviously religious to a quasi-secular and apparently secularization of mental condition” (35). From the autobiographical to the fictionalized accounts of madness, one comes across a repulsive portraiture of characters with mental disabilities. While countries in Europe and North America may have developed some humanizing skills in handling mentally challenged people, Nigeria has not really improved on the treatments of psychiatric patients. The theme of mental illness, in Nigerian literature, considering its rarity, can be discussed within the context of minority discourse.

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