The Trickster as a Semiotic Figure for Construing Postcolonial Experience: Kwakye’s “The Clothes of Nakedness”

by Isaac N. Mwinlaaru & Samuel K. Nkansah


This essay examines an instance of the use of folklore by writers in postcolonial African societies to problematize postcolonial systems in fiction. The essay discusses how Benjamin Kwakye exploits the trickster character as a semiotic figure to construe the themes of survival and social and economic insecurity in The Clothes of Nakedness. The features of the trickster deployed include the spider imagery and his webbing across geographical margins, the use of trickery and manipulation as survival and power-building strategies, and the role of the trickster as a “hero-scamp” and villain. Towards the end of the narrative, the trickster is removed from focalization, and villainous events he engineers are construed as happening in spite of him. He remerges at the end as the ubiquitous spider in whom all mysteries make sense. These strategies are related to postcolonial issues of corruption, socioeconomic marginalization, and international aid.

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