During chapter three, the heavy Christain motif shines through as a remnant of Nigeria’s past under British imperialism. Ifemelu’s mother is so consumed with religion that she converts to three different sects when the previous fails to uphold God’s promise of solving her family’s struggles. Of course, Adichie bridges African and Western culture in “Americanah” by mentioning the heavy role Christianity/religion has by looming over citizens in any society. This book strongly resonates with me as I can relate to Ifemelu in the terms of her position on religion and family.
With a mother who is a devout Lutheran and a father who is a little-to-nonreligious Catholic, it used to suck being agnostic-turned-atheist. Similarly to Ifemelu, I questioned the presence of a God and wondered if it was all just a concept. After multiple refusals to participate in church services and many arguments, my mother eventually learned to look past the fact that she was losing all four of her kids to science. I don’t want to totally denounce religion, if people want to believe in an ultimate controller of the universe then that’s fine, but I just don’t buy it.
In the wise words of Ricky Gervais, “If we take something like any fiction, any holy book, and destroyed it, in a thousand years’ time that wouldn’t come back just as it was. Whereas if we took every science book and every fact and destroyed them all, in a thousand years they’d all be back, because all the same tests would be the same result.”
I’ve personally come to believe that differing religions in a society are debilitating and can create tension. Anyone can see that, as people still do not know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim. Historically, factory owners purposely hired Catholics and other Christian denominations, because they knew the factory workers wouldn’t form labor unions with Catholics, thus no union. Obviously, you can’t make people not believe in order for everyone to have the same views, but people need to learn that not everyone’s going to agree (Google search “secularism”).
As with any family, religion can be a touchy subject especially when each member has differing views. It’s easy for moms and dads to think that they’ve failed as parents if they can’t get their child to believe in their god, but it’s universal for younger generations to drift away from more traditional stances.
There isn’t anything wrong per se with raising your kids to believe a certain ideology, but, parents, please don’t expect your children to conform to your belief system just because they’ve been brought up that way. I’m no parent and I don’t pretend to know what it’s like raising a child, but if you really want your child to believe then don’t ingrain your opinions into their head. Most kids–specifically teenagers–don’t do well to imposition and especially won’t listen to authoritative figures.