The Nigerian Diaspora in the United States and Afropolitanism in Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun


  • Sandra Sousa


This essay explores Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun (2016), one of the most innovative novels of the Nigerian U.S. diaspora, from the perspective of “Afropolitanism.” Occupying a unique place within African writing and African diasporic writing, the novel does not conform to the traditional understanding of Afropolitanism as the celebration of cultural hybridity and transnationalism. Insofar as its portrayals focus on the individual identities and lives of its African and other non-Western characters and their families, the novel further departs from the conventions of earlier Afropolitan narratives, which tendentially center the whole national or racial community. Because Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun rejects the kind of caricature that passes for life in many works of African diasporic literature, it avoids the Afro-pessimism of previous Afropolitan novels, in which the transnational movement of characters occurs as a result of precarious conditions in the home countries, and which forms part of the search for a dream that could be fulfilled by the modernity and the advancements of technology to be found in the host western country. Instead, Manyika’s novel asks readers to dissect meanings between the lines and peel off dense layers of signification. The narrative achieves this nuanced communication of Afropolitanism through its main character, Morayo Da Silva, whose representation extends the cultural politics of Afropolitanism to include subjective politics in the analysis of how we exist in the world. In this way, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun highlights Morayo’s affirmation of the value of diasporic life over and against the ironic posture of black self-negation that can result from the diasporic experience.