Critical Context

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

“The least one can say is that this is not the Africa one knows,” fumed Kimani Gecau on the depiction of tribalism in this work. Besides this accusation, reviewers in addition to Gecau have charged Abrahams with developing the Udomo-led insurrection in a simplistic, truncated manner. Nevertheless, the correspondence between Panafrica’s imaginary uprising and the real nationalist takeover led by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah is an undeniable one that establishes A Wreath for Udomo as a prophetic undertaking.

Like Udomo, the Western-educated Kwame Nkrumah, a personal friend of Abrahams, returned after a decade’s absence to his West African birthplace, the Gold Coast, in order to direct the Convention People’s Party (CPP), which agitated for the complete dismantling of the British colonial government and the establishment of a self-determining, all-African administration in its place. In 1957, after a series of British concessions, constitutional changes, and election wins by the CPP, Nkrumah, who united both middle-class elitists and grass-roots tribalists, became prime minister of the first African country to declare its independence from a colonial regime. In governing the Gold Coast, however, renamed Ghana and combined with British Togoland upon its liberation, Nkrumah confronted Udomo’s problems of, on the one hand, placating tribal chiefs and, on the other, navigating his country into the modern age. Finally, a military coup overthrew...

(The entire section is 418 words.)