Have you ever dreamed of travelling the world? For Kevan Chandler this was something he had always wanted to do. He dreamed of backpacking through Europe. There was just one problem, Kevan is a wheelchair user. He has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a degenerative disorder that affects his muscles. Most people would think that this would rule out any chance that Kevan could realise his dream but they would be wrong. After all where there is a will there is always a way. This past summer Kevan finally achieved his goal when he and his friends set off on a three-week trip. But it wasn’t as easy as just clicking their heels and taking off to Europe. It involved a bit more planning than that.
First he and his friends had to design and build a special backpack that allowed them to carry Kevan on their backs. His pals then spent months training to build up the strength they needed in order to carry 65-pound Chandler around England, Ireland and France. Yes that’s right, Kevan’s friends agreed to take it in turns to carry their friend on their backs so that he could fulfil his dream. You might think that the gang chose accessible locations in order to make things easier for themselves, wrong again. The idea was to travel to places that his wheelchair could never take him. One of these places was a sixth century monastery in Skellig Micheal off the coast of Ireland. There were 600 steps standing between Kevan and that monastery but that didn’t stop them from reaching their destination.Continue reading
The working title for my dissertation is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Existing in Literature. It looks at gender, race and disability in literature. I am using Adichie’s work as the focus of my topic but I will also be using other writers to illustrate these points. The core texts by Adichie are Purple Hibiscus, Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun and Thing Around Your Neck. This book is a collection of short stories so I will be using a sample of them in my writing. Her first novel Purple Hibiscus was published in 2003. It is set in post colonial Nigeria. It is the story of fifteen year Kambili Achike and her brother Jaja. They come from a wealthy family dominated by her devoutly Catholic father, Eugene. Eugene is both a religious zealot and a violent man. Because it is set in post colonial Nigeria it deals with many of the issues of race that I would like to discuss in my thesis. The fact that it is also told through the eyes of a child is also very useful. These issues stand out more and resonate with the reader because everyone can relate to the voice of a child no matter what age they are.
The second book that I will be looking at is Half of a Yellow Sun. This is her most famous novel. It has recently been made into a feature film staring Thandie Newton. The book was published in 2006 and it won the Orange Prize for Fiction. It is once again set in Nigeria during the time of the Biafran war in the 1960’s. It looks at the effect of the war on Nigeria. It examines how little notice the rest of the world took to the plight of the Nigerian people. The two main characters are sisters. This book will be useful because it examines these women lives by exploring themes of race and gender. Another one of the main characters is an English man named Richard. The perspective of an outsider is also very beneficial for my writing because it looks at the contrast between Nigeria and an empire like England. The differences between the way these characters are treated in society are of course very stark. This will allow me to demonstrate to the reader how people of a different race and gender were treated at the time this book is set.Continue reading