Japa (Migration) Phenomenon: A Critical Discourse Representation in Literary Texts

Author: Ruth Oji (Pan-Atlantic University, Nigeria)
Speaker: Ruth Oji
Topic: Language Ideologies
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Migration is an integral part of human existence and has long been in practise. In Nigeria, the trend of migrating to European countries is currently in strong motion. The trend has come to be depicted with the slang ‘Japa’, meaning to ‘run away’.

This study explores from a critical discourse analysis (CDA) perspective the issues of ideology and power relations that account for a mass exodus of people from Nigeria to several western countries. Ideologies are produced and reflected in participants’ and writers’ use of discourse as they represent and construct societies on the basis of gender and class; and power relations are negotiated and performed through discourse.

To achieve this study’s objective, the following research questions are considered: ‘What are the ideological bases for the Japa phenomenon currently being experienced in Nigeria? and ‘To what extent do power relations contribute to how they settle in their land of migration?’ Using Fairclough’s approach to CDA as theoretical base to fully explore these questions, this research adopts the literary text ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for its representation of the Nigerian situation.

This study finds through linguistic tools of framing, foregrounding, and backgrounding that not only a quest for change of socio-cultural location for economic and educational purposes but also that for finding love drive people on their migration journey. Additionally, power relations as revealed in the text through topicalization in discourse and agent-patient relations experienced in such foreign lands lead to congruent issues that prompt change in identity, culture, race, and fosters discrimination or stigmatisation of migrants.

Keywords: Americanah; Critical discourse analysis (CDA); Ideology; Japa; Migration; Power relations