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Nowhere in Africa Essay

Migrating to another country is an accepted occurrence nowadays but for people whose relocation was forced by inevitable and untoward reasons, the resettlement appeared to be undesirable. In fact, leaving the place where one was accustomed to and moving into another new and unwelcoming environment is likely to change a person. Hence, such change resulting from involuntary transfer eventually altered one’s perspective and conduct towards oneself thereby also changed his or her family view and the society.

Since the condition is expected to happen, the modification however should lean towards the general benefit of the person; thus creating something good out of transferring from one place to another is valuable. It is therefore essential to consider that in order to succeed in escaping a previous cruel environment and settle in a new yet more peaceful place, the perception towards oneself, family and the society must be regarded as encouraging rather than harmful. The said situation is best depicted in a literary work such as the effort made by Stefanie Zweig (2004).

In particular, Zweig’s autobiographical “Nowhere in Africa” effectively exemplified that the migration of German Jewish family in Kenya during the Second World War was regarded by the characters in various ways. Especially notable was the resistance from the wife who, because of the unfamiliarity and discomfort of the new place, altered her view of herself, her family and the new community where she needs to belong. While the Zweig’s book explicitly showed how one resisted the family’s transfer to a totally different setting, it nonetheless manifested in the end how one’s altered view was ultimately corrected.

In doing so, the book achieved its very purpose and essence of making the public realize that perspectives are likely to be changed as a result of several grounds such as being a refugee in a totally new and uncultivated place like Kenya. That is, one should regard relocation in a more positive perspective. While resistance is a natural reaction, it is worthy to argue then that it is fundamental for a person to change his or her viewpoint towards oneself, family and the society in a beneficial instead of damaging approach.

Altered personal view “Nowhere in Africa” is attributed to the author’s own experience as member of a family who migrated from Nazi-dominated Germany to Kenya. As such, Zweig created the characters of the Redlich family. While the head of the family, Attorney Walter and daughter Regina tried hard and eventually did not find further conflict in leaving their rich kind of life in Germany to settle in an untamed country like Kenya, it was the wife, Jettel who manifested an intense opposition to her new life (Zweig, 2004).

The reality of leaving their once-wealthy and secure life in Germany made Jettel alter her view towards herself. Specifically, the previously well-treated and pampered Jettel refused to accept the reality and need to adjust and eventually settle in Kenya. Such resistance was shown by the wife in a way that she changed how she views herself. From being a former well-off and apparently confident Mrs. Redlich, settling in Kenya made Jettel alter her personal point of view (Zweig, 2004). The transformation in Jettel was showed in the book through how she lost her self-confidence.

Jettel resisted the modification in her lifestyle when she evidently opposed every adjustment in all its circumstances. In fact, it became apparent for Jettel that she forgot the fundamental reason why her family left their country. That is, they have to abandon the cruelty of the Nazi regime hence the need to relocate and settle in a safer place like the farm in Kenya. It appeared that Jettel, because of the discomfort of living in Kenya, changed her view towards her need to be secured in an environment outside her country (Sweig, 2004).

Ironically, it was Jettel’ personal view which manifested that Kenya is not totally different from Germany. Regardless of her husband’s initial warnings, Jettel expected that living in Kenya will be similar to her life in Frankfurt hence she even looked forward to the new place. She got used to changing her wealthy way of living if only to attain peaceful and safe existence. However, reality struck Jettel especially when she experienced how different it is to live in a totally varying countries.

This was proven when her personal view about herself was altered where she stated that Kenya was a “lovely” place but unfortunately, she “can never live there” (Zweig, 2004). It was however also apparent that Jettel eventually changed her view of herself as she gradually got used to living in Kenya. As World War II escalated, Jettel ultimately realized the benefit of living far from Germany and right in the peacefulness of Kenya. During the course of the novel, the author showed how Jettel’s view of herself was slowly altered.

This condition was done and proven by the fact that Jettel regained her self-assurance and eventually accepted the severe realities yet more peaceful new life in Kenya (Zweig, 2004, p. 93). Altered view towards family The ironies within the book were shown by the author when she presented how Jettel’s view towards her family was changed. If prior to moving to Kenya the Redlich family was one in their principle and desire, the realities of living in Kenya made Jettel change her relationship with her husband and daughter (Zweig, 2004).

Jettel previously viewed herself as a submissive wife to Walter hence her support and acceptance of their transfer from Germany to Kenya. However, as the war increased and various events have taken place, Jettel turned herself into becoming an aggressive wife whose views are strongly manifested. Such alteration in Jettel’s view of herself resulted into constant fighting between the couple and even conflict with her only child (Zweig, 2004). Further conflicts aggravated the relationship within the family.

If Jettel previously resisted living in Kenya but as her view of herself was modified throughout the novel, so is the relationship with Walter and Regina. The personal transformation became more evident when Jettel, who used to be unable to stand and live nowhere in Kenya, asserted and opted to remain in Africa as her husband, wanted to return to Germany (Zweig, 2004, p. 267). Altered view towards society Not only did Jettel showed how she changed hew view of herself but also that of her perception towards the two societies which is that of Germany and Kenya.

As Jettel previously viewed herself as straight follower to her native country, the cruelty of the Nazi regime and the hostilities in the country made her change her perspective. This is because she eventually saw and attested to the uncontrollable violence in Germany that posed harm to her family (Zweig, 2004). Hence, as Jettel’s view towards Germany diminished, she hanged on to her and her family’s need to survive. Such situation, in turn, made Jettel’s view of Kenya to be altered as she eventually accepted that despite the harsh realities of living in Africa, it is still the more logical thing to do.

While Jettel previously viewed Kenya as a place where she can never settle, her changed personal idea about the country made her realize that living in Africa is just like paving the way for the clashing of two existing worlds where civilized European people can eventually live in an undomesticated yet safer place like Kenya (Zweig, 2004). Conclusion “Nowhere in Africa” is a concrete proof which showed how and why one of its characters altered her view of herself as well as towards her family and the society.

Through the personality and characteristics of Jettel, the book effectively manifested that one’s perspectives are indeed likely to be changed. This condition particularly holds true when one’s safety and decent way of living are to be considered. For Jettel, her altered view of herself, family and the countries of Germany and Kenya clearly depicted that in time of turmoil, circumstances will lead one to change her principle and practices. Reference Zweig, S. (2004). Nowhere in Africa: An Autobiographical Novel. Wisconsin: Terrace Books.


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