100 pages 3 hours read

Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2011

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The Importance of Belonging to Communities

In Akata Witch, Okorafor explores the need that individuals have to feel they are part of a community, whether large or small. In the Prologue, Sunny identifies herself as someone who doesn’t fit easily into one world or another. Her albinism, her American accent, and her age set her apart at school, and after Miss Tate further stigmatizes her by asking her to strike her classmates, she becomes even more of an outsider. When she is attacked by Jibaku in the school yard in Chapter 1, “not one of her ex-friends came to her rescue. They just stood and watched” (11). At home, she feels unloved and rejected by her father, and she can’t participate in the activity she most enjoys with her brothers, playing soccer, because of her albinism. In addition to her ambivalent cultural identity, she feels prevented from identifying with the groups she thinks she should feel most connected to: classmates, friends, and family members.

As Sunny learns of her Leopard Person identity and develops friendships, she begins to figure out what her place is within new communities. Most importantly, she forms a new group, the Oha coven, with Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha. At first, these four young people seem very different, but after Sasha proposes they could be an Oha coven, they gradually come to think of themselves in group terms.