Americanah – Characters Analysis

This post described the characters in Americanah. Read on to get a glimpse into who they characters are and the role they played.



Characters in Americanah


Americanah is a novel by a Nigerian-American author, Chimamanda Ngọzi Adichie. Americanah is her third novel, published in 2013. The story is set in Nigeria and America, where Ifemelu spent some time in her life.

Ifemelu , the novel’s protagonist, is Nigerian-born and grew up there. She relocated to America after university strikes caused by underpaid lecturers disrupted academic activities in universities across Nigeria. While in Nigeria, she had a friend, Obinze, who she was very in love with, and her relocation to America, in the beginning, seemed of no threat to their love till her job hunt in America exposed her to sex exploiters. She discontinued communication with Obinze as she was ashamed to reveal her ordeal to him.

Ifemelu (Ifemelunamma)

She’s the young woman in the story who falls in love firstly with Obinze during their high school days. They dated throughout their high school and into the high institution, where strikes by the university lecturers kept the school closed, protracting her years of study at the university. She reconciled within herself to apply for American Visa to continue her university education there. Aunty Uju helped her out. Ifemelu’s life in the United States became uneasy as she experienced racism for the first time. Her racial experience influenced her to open a blog where she writes about her experiences as a non-American black woman living in the United States. Ifemulu is the protagonist. The story is told from her point of view, although sometimes from that of Obinze.

Her desperation to earn an income to prop up herself since her scholarship didn’t give her any incentives exposed her to sexual abuse. She dated Curt, a wealthy cousin of Kimberly, whom she worked as a babysitter. Curt is a white guy and privileged, making him insensitive about Ifemelu’s experience. She cheated on him as a result of his insensitivity towards her ordeal. Ifemelu left the relationship and met Blaine sometime later in the novel. 

At the end of the story, she decided to resurrect communication with her high school friend, Obinze. As she returned to Nigeria after thirteen years of living in America, she met Obinze again, who was married and had a daughter, Buchi. After months of being unable to settle their differences, they reconcile, and Obinze leaves his wife to live with Ifemulu.


He is Ifemelu’s high school love. They met at a party after he transferred to Ifemelu’s school. While Ifemelu left Nigeria for America in the hope that one day they would meet again in America, Obinze traveled to London. Due to the 9/11 attack on America by religious-influenced terrorists, Obinze’s Visa to America was canceled.  

His papers expired in the United Kingdom, so he lost the right to get employed. He eventually got one when Vincent, a fellow Nigerian, gave him his papers with an agreement – he would receive a certain percentage of Obinze’s salary. Obinze agreed but changed as Vincent increased his demand. Obinze was surprised to get to work only to be told by his boss that someone reported him as an illegal migrant.

Out of desperation, he arranged a fake wedding with a citizen of the UK, hoping that would grant him a residential status. On the wedding day, he was arrested for planning a sham marriage and deported to Nigeria, where he worked for a wealthy man known as “Chief”. Working for Chief made him rich, too. Obinze married a beautiful woman named Kosi, who had a daughter – Buchi for him. Ifemelu returns to Nigeria and makes Obinze’s marriage with Kosi fall apart.


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Aunty Uju (Obianuju)

She’s Ifemelu’s cousin and the mother of Dike, who was born to the General. The General died mysteriously at the beginning of the novel. UJu has been in a complicated relationship with The General, which resulted in the birth of Dike. The sudden death of the father of her son shattered her life in Nigeria, where she pursued a career in medicine. Her life became endangered in the absence of Oga, prompting her to leave Nigeria for America.


He is Kimberley’s wealthy cousin. Ifemelu met her through Kimberly, whom she worked for as a nanny. Curt helped Ifemelu get a job that would enable her to get a Green Card. Ifemelu cheated on Curt because of his inability to understand the pains inflicted on her by racism as a black woman living in America.


Blaine is a black assistant professor at Yale and one of the minority bloggers in America. He met Ifemelu at a congregation of minority bloggers in the US, although they previously met on a train earlier in the novel. He began to date Ifemelu. Ifemelu’s failure to participate in a protest against the profiling of black staff working at Yale resulted in a strain on her relationship with Blaine. Blaine put so much effort into Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and got reunited with Ifemelu during the period.


Kimberly is white and employed Ifemelu as a nanny. She appears to be kind but frequently says discriminatory stuff to Ifemelu.

Ifemulu’s parents 

The story doesn’t pay much attention to Ifemelu’s parents. However, it does bring them to the limelight through flashbacks. Ifemelu’s mother is an ardent Christian. That manifested in her dressing sense and hairstyle. Her hair is adorable at the beginning of the story but changes as she tries to conform to the preachings of different pastors. Ifemelu’s father is an intelligent man who notices his poor education and resorts to frequently using fanciful words.

The General

He is an army officer in the story who had a relationship with Uju. He is the father of Dike. The General died unexpectedly, leaving his son, Dike, with UJu.


She is gorgeous but soporific. She’s Obinze’s wife and the mother of Buchi.


Buchi is the daughter and only child the marriage between Kosi and Obinze birthed. Buchi played no role in the story; however, her presence is most significant in Obinze’s home. Obinze loved her so much, making him initially resist Ifemelu’s advice to leave Kosi. Buchi is somewhat the glue that held her parent’s marriage.


She’s Ifemelu’s childhood friend from Nigeria. She relocated to the US earlier before Ifemelu. She helped Ifemelu adapt and get a job in America. 

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