Researching the Context of
‘Purple Hibiscus’
Slides prepared by 12 English Advanced,
Auckland Girls Grammar School, 2011
Locations mentioned in the novel
• Nsukka is a town in South-East Nigeria
• Population (2006 Census) 309,633
• Nsukka is home to the igbo tribe
Differences between
North and South Nigeria
Cultural differences between North and South Nigeria.
The people of North Nigeria were mostly Muslim
People of South Nigeria were predominantly Christian.
All governments since independence had been controlled
by northerners - the 1999 elections were the first to elect
a southerner. Some southern Christian people resented
this domination.
• There have been religious riots in the north started by a
dissident sect of Muslims, and numerous riots and
disturbances between the majority Muslims in the north
and the Christians - mostly immigrants from the south.
These seem to be increasingly frequent and more violent.
Group 2: Nigeria’s
Oil pollution in the Niger Delta has deprived tens of millions of people from their
most fundamental right to food, water, and health. Environmental degradation in
the delta where about 31 million people live. People who live in this region have
to drink polluted water, as well as cook and wash their clothes with the dirty water.
When they have a chance to catch some, these people eat fish contaminated by
oil and other toxins.
The poverty of the people, in contrast with the wealth generated by oil, has
become one of the most absolute and disturbing proofs of how a natural resource
can be transformed into evil, according to the group
Nigeria’s Exports
•Nigeria’s economy is largely driven by their exports of
petroleum and natural gas which provide the country with a
large part of their GDP.
•However since the economic reform of 2005 they have
been trying to diversify their exporting trade by moving into
other sectors such as mineral resources and agriculture.
•In 2009 their main exports included
oil, cocoa and timber with Nigeria’s
largest trading partners being the
United Kingdom and America.
•The amount of money received from
exports has been increasing steadily
•Nigeria’s GDP in 2009 was at $173 Billion (US Dollars) as
compared to New Zealand’s at $126.68 Billion.
•However despite this in 2010 the poverty rate of Nigeria
was up to 70% showing how large the gap between rich and
the poor is in developing countries, there is no even
distribution of wealth.
•In New Zealand our percentage of poverty is at 8%, which,
as a developed country, still leaves much room for
•Despite the large GDP 70% of Nigerians are still involved
with agriculture, generally as subsistence farmers.
Chelsea and Gina
Political situation in Nigeria
•General Sani Abacha was the military dictator of Nigeria from 17
November 1993 to 8 June 1998, when he died suddenly of a heart
• Abacha was close to the central power base of successive military
governments in the coastal West African nation of Nigeria, and
finally assumed power himself through a coup in November 1993.
•While continuing to assert his intention to bring democratic civilian
rule to Nigeria, Abacha was criticised by prominent Nigerian
democracy campaigners, human rights advocates, civil rights
lawyers, and world-renowned authors. These critics doubted his
sincerity and commitment after 11 straight years of virtually
uninterrupted military rule in Nigeria, all accompanied by promises
made by other dictators for a return to democracy. In 1995, Abacha
announced a three-year program of transition to civilian rule. On
March 1, 1995 there was an attempted coup by Lawan Gwadabe.
Also suspected as part of this coup were Olusegun Obasanjo and
Shehu Musa Yar'Adua (recent Nigerian Prime ministers). They were
sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment for this.
•Reign: July 29, 1966 - July 25, 1975
•Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon became
head of the Federal Military Government and
Supreme Commander of the Armed forces on
August, 1966.
•At 32 he was Africa's youngest head of state.
•He was the son of a missionary
•He was a keen hockey player and took part in
competitive athletics including soccer and boxing.
•His other hobbies include cinematography and
bird watching.
•On 30 May 1967, Gowon declared the formal
withdrawal of the Eastern Region, which was now
to be known as the Republic of Biafra.
•This was to trigger a war that would last 30
months, and see the deaths of more than 100,000
Nigeria’s Human Rights Record
Human Rights in Nigeria
Police continued to violate a variety of human
rights. Examples include unlawful killings,
torture and enforced disappearances.
Prisoners were kept in very brutal
The government attempted to exploit
journalists and human rights activists by
harassing, bribing and threatening them.
• Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti: A notable human rights activist,
doctor, and chairman of Campaign for Democracy (CD),
who was victimised by Nigerian military dictators. His
family has also been affected by his protesting and have
been illegally and inhumanly treated. He was imprisoned
for 15 years but was released in June 1998.
• Hafsaf Abiola: Another more recent Nigerian human
rights activist who promotes democracy in Nigeria. She is
the one of the daughters of Moshood Abiola, who was the
late President-elect imprisoned by the dictator of the time,
Gen Sani Abacha. In 1996, Abiola’s mother was murdered
during a plea to release her husband.
Nwankiti Ogechi = Ken Saro-Wiwa
• “Soldiers shot Nwankiti Ogechi in a bush in Minna. And then they
poured acid on his body to melt his flesh off his bones, to kill him
even he was already dead…[he was] referred to…as “a man of
honour” (p. 200-201).
• Ken Saro-Wiwa was a famous Nigerian author, television
producer and president of the Movement for Survival of Ogoni
People (MOSOP), which defended environmental and human
rights for Ogoni people that live in Nigeria.
• Similar to Ogechi, Saro-Wiwa was a martyr protecting his people
from the military government’s unjust treatment and human
rights violations.
• On November 10, 1995 Saro-Wiwa was hanged for merely
attempting to bring freedom his people and environmental
Igbo people are mostly farmers and the yam is a staple
food in their lives. They even have a festival for yams!
Wrestling is the most popular sport amongst boys and
young men, the other popular sport is soccer. Carving
is a skilled occupation practiced only by men, though
women also practice many other crafts such as pottery
making, spinning, weaving, basketry, grass plaiting.
The native, traditional religion of the Igbo
people is known as Odinani – although after
colonisation many people became Christian. In
Igbo mythology the supreme God is called
Chukwu which means “great spirit”. The
universe is divided into four sections: Okike
(creation), Alusi (supernatural), Mmuo (spirit)
and Uwa (world).
By Emma M, Camille and Ropa
Igbo [EE-bo] people inhabit south-eastern Nigeria. Igbo is
the second largest group of people living in southern
Nigeria. Population – 5.5 million approximately. European
contact with the Igbo began with the arrival of the
Portuguese in the mid-1600s.
Mmanwu is the name for traditional
masquerades in Igbo culture. It is a major form
of entertainment, and Kambili and Jaja visit one
with Aunty Ifeoma in Purple Hibiscus. The
practice originally evolved from the Igbo
people worshipping their traditional gods,
which is why Papa would not be happy if he had
known that they went to a masquerade. The
spirits are embodiments of the dead who have
risen again.
Igbo language
Igbo phrases
Kedu – Hi, hello
Ka omesia – Goodbye
Biko – Please
Daalu / Imela – Thank you
Nne / Nna – Mother / Father
Nwanne – Brother or sister
Gini bu afa gi? – What is your name?
Afam bu ... – My name is ...
By Emma M, Camille and Ropa
The Igbo language is spoken by the Igbo people. There are
over twenty different dialects, and it is written with the same
Latin alphabet that we use, but pronounced differently. It is
also a tonal language, with high, mid and low ranges, and it
includes accented characters.
Fufu recipe!
Potato flakes, butter, salt, pepper, cream, water.
1. Bring about 2 – 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot.
2. If you are using cream of wheat, add about 1 – 2 cups of the
cream of wheat into the boiling water and stir. This leaves a thick
pasty mixture.
3. Add 1 – 2 tablespoonful of butter or margarine.
4. Add 2 – 4 cups of potato flakes and stir continuously. You can
add hot water to the mix to achieve your desired texture.
5. You may sprinkle very small amount of salt in to taste here if
6. Continue to stir until you get a smooth dough.
7. The dough is rolled into balls and served with desired soup.
Religion in Nigeria
By Chelsea King, Charlotte Crick-Friesen and Tessa Kirkland
•The country has a dominant Muslim
North, a mixed Christian and Muslim
South West, and a Christian South.
•In 1963 47% of Nigerians were Muslim,
35% Christian and 18% were members of
local indigenous congregations.
•In 2009 Islam made up 50.4% and
Christianity made up 48.2% of the
population with other religions making up
the remaining 1.4%. (Judaism, Hinduism
and indigenous religions.)
National Church of Nigeria
Influence of Religion on society
• Major congregations
of the larger Anglican
and Roman Catholic
missions represented
elite families of their
respective areas.
• All major public
centres had areas put
aside for churches or
• Inter-ethnic conflict
was said to be caused
by religion e.g there
were riots against Igbo
in 1953
Society in general has more gradually and
selectively expanded to accommodate new
influences, it is fairly certain that they will
continue to assert their distinctive cultural
identity in creative and often ingenious ways".
- Cultural Survival (Publications):The Texture
of Change
in Nigeria
• Came to Africa in the
1840s but their mission
failed, however they
returned in the 1850s
and were more
• They targeted Nigeria
after their success
abolishing the slave
trade to convert natives
and discover natural
• For many Nigerians
missionaries were the
first Europeans with
whom they came into
• Missionaries made good use of freed
slaves and other people in
evangelising Nigeria. This is portrayed
in ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua
Achebe, the missionaries use village
converts to encourage more tribe
members to join the church.
Role Of Women
The role of women in Nigeria is greatly affected
by religious views. The three main religions are
Christianity, Islam and Igbo. In All three women
are considered second to men and have to be
submissive to their husbands. Marriage is
considered important, and the success of
marriage relies on the women to prevent a
“disgraceful” divorce.
Polygamy is allowed by Islam and Igbo religions
for men whereas for women its shameful to
even speak about sex. Women are used for sex
at their husbands demand and cannot even use
a female condom without permission. Rape,
female mutilation and child marriages are still
Colonisation & Women’s Rights
In pre-colonial times women in Nigeria were
workers alongside men in trades. Women who
depended on their husbands were regarded with
contempt. At this time women were considered
free adults by law although there were
restrictions in place for example women could
not inherit land.
During the colonial period education changed to
teach women to be good housewives unlike
before when some even provided for whole
families. Policies in this time were clearly biased
against women.
In the post colonial period women again came into
the workforce. In the South especially women
started to gain status and power. Although in the
North they were still denied the right to vote.
History in a
Slave Trade in Nigeria.
Slavery in northern
Nigeria was abolished
in 1936.
• The first Europeans to trade
slaves in Nigeria were the The slave trade that was
Portuguese and Spaniard established was to the
detriment and
occasionally profit of
many Nigerian ethnicities.
Colonial history
• In many ways, Nigeria has a unique
Colonial history. Perhaps more than in any
other colonial project, missionaries were
used to their utmost effectiveness.
• After their success in fighting for the
abolition of the Slave Trade, they targeted
Nigeria with a dual purpose - to convert
the natives and to discover natural
resources which could be traded as a
substitute for slaves.
Britain 4 Nigeria 4eva! x0x
info on
Ngozi Adichie
Growing Up Adichie
• Adichie was born in Nigeria on September
15, 1977.
• She was born in the town of Enugu but
grew up in Nsukka.
• She is from an upper middle class
Nigerian family.
• Her novels are all set in Nigeria, because
this is the place she is most familiar with.
What real life parallels are there
between the author’s life and
• In Purple Hibiscus, Kambili visits her aunty Ifeoma
who lives in the same town Adichie grew up in.
• Ifeoma worked at the university like Adichie’s
parents. Ifeoma’s character was modelled on the
author’s mother.
• Adichie grew up under a repressive political
regime in Nigeria. She experienced hardships /
food shortages.
• Adichie’s personality is far more similar to
Amaka’s than Kambili’s.
• Kambili Achike’s name is similar to Chimamanda

Research: Context of ‘Purple Hibiscus’