Summary: Chapter 48

The Nigerpolitan Club members complain about the things they miss from abroad. Ifemelu recognizes that even she has self-righteousness in her voice and hates it. Fred, a Harvard graduate, invites her to get a drink. She declines, but tells him to call her.

Summary: Chapter 49

Ifemelu hates working for Zoe. During an editorial meeting, Aunty Onenu criticizes Ifemelu’s interview for being judgmental. Ifemelu argues that this is no way to beat Glass . Doris argues their content is just like Glass ’s. Aunty Onenu leaves the editorial meeting to go shopping, and Ifemelu uses a call from Ranyinudo as an excuse to take a break.

Ranyinudo’s lover is withholding a jeep he bought for her because she’s not acting like the “sweet girl” she used to be. Ifemelu thinks how the phrase “sweet girl” means that Ranyinudo let him dictate who she was.

Doris asks the secretary, Esther, how she’s feeling. Ifemelu is ashamed she didn’t notice Esther was sick. Ifemelu asks Esther what medicine she’s taking. Esther brings her an unlabeled bottle. Ifemelu, shocked a doctor would give out unlabeled medication, suggests they run a health column. Doris counters that they are not activists. Ifemelu begins to envision a blog about Lagos.

Ifemelu complains about the articles Zoe runs. Doris explains that the women featured pay Aunty Onenu and that is the way things work in Nigeria. Ifemelu says that she can never tell what Doris’s true opinions are. Doris calls Ifemelu judgmental and asks why she wants to make Aunty Onenu’s magazine about her. Ifemelu warns Doris that following Aunty Onenu will not lead to success. On the way out of the office, Esther tells Ifemelu that she has a husband-repelling spirit.

Summary: Chapter 50

Dike visits Ifemelu in Lagos. He has never seen so many Black people in the same place before.

Ifemelu starts her new blog. She interviews Priye, has Zemaye write a gossip piece, and writes her own op-ed about the Nigerpolitan Club. After Ifemelu posts about young women in Lagos who rely on men for their lifestyles, Ranyinudo calls her up, furious. Ifemelu insists that the post was more about Aunty Uju. Ranyinudo asks how these arrangements differ from Ifemelu’s relationship with Curt. Ifemelu apologizes. Ranyinudo tells her to call Obinze because Ifemelu’s emotional frustration is making her lash out.

Dike asks Ifemelu about his father. She takes him to see Aunty Uju’s estate. Dike asks if he can drive them back to Ifemelu’s. When he leaves, he concludes that he likes Lagos. Ifemelu is tempted to tell him to move there, but stops herself. Ranyinudo asks how a boy like Dike could want to commit suicide, calling it foreign behavior. Ifemelu is furious.

Summary: Chapter 51

After Ifemelu mistakes a man at a bank for Obinze, she decides to text him. He calls her back immediately and asks when he can see her. She suggests they see each other immediately. They meet at the Jazzhole bookshop.

When Obinze asks her what book she came to buy, she tells him she decided that if their reunion is one to remember, she wants it to be at a place worth remembering. He is delighted by her honesty. They discuss how strange returning to Nigeria has been. Obinze flirts openly. He asks about Ifemelu’s life in America, noting that he could tell she’s changed a lot after reading her blog. He no longer dreams of America because it lost its allure when he realized his wealth opened the door to him.

They meet again the next day. Obinze says he’s pleased to talk with someone smart. Ifemelu realizes the comment is about Kosi and wonders why he married her. Obinze praises Ifemelu’s blog and tells her she needs investors. Ifemelu rejects his money. He asks why Ifemelu cut off contact. Ifemelu tells him about the tennis coach, and how afterward she felt like she had betrayed both herself and Obinze. Obinze acknowledges that she must have felt pain and loneliness, and wishes she’d told him. Ifemelu almost cries, and as Obinze holds her hand, she feels safe.

Analysis: Chapters 48–51

Ranyinudo insists that Ifemelu’s blog post about transactional relationships is born out of Ifemelu’s emotional frustration, which brings some of Ifemelu’s fears about seeing Obinze to light. She knows that Obinze is now wealthy and married, and if they were to start a relationship again, they would be in danger of falling into the same dynamic shared between Aunty Uju and The General. Because she knows that in this mode of relationship the mistress never truly gets the man’s heart, she fears that she will reunite with Obinze, never truly to have him, and live with him gaining power over her emotionally and financially. Ifemelu fears the power dynamics that so easily manifest in financially-unbalanced relationships, which is likely the reason she refused to ask Obinze for help in finding a flat. This fear also explains why she rejects his money in Chapter 51, keeping her blog separate from Obinze’s money and dependent only on her own ambition. Her complete unwillingness to create any sort of dependence on Obinze demonstrates that Ifemelu does not believe a transactional relationship can ever be true or honest.

By quitting her job at Zoe to start a new blog, Ifemelu makes another move toward authenticity. While in America, Ifemelu cultivated ways to be her true self despite the pressures of American life by maintaining her true accent, refusing to relax her hair, and keeping her blog focused on her own observations surrounding race. Now, instead of accepting Doris’s insistence that magazines like Zoe simply represent how Nigeria works, she decides to forge her own vision of journalism in Lagos that satisfies her creatively and financially. This attitude is different from that of an Americanah like Doris, because Doris, while she may not believe in Zoe, accepts it as the true Nigerian way. Doris believes her only recourse is to fawn over Aunty Onenu at work while complaining at the Nigerpolitan Club. Ifemelu, on the other hand, does not accept that “Nigerian” has to mean subpar and innovates.

Dike finds his visit to Nigeria healing because it allows him to witness and experience the truth about where he came from. Dike finds comfort in seeing Black people everywhere because he grew up in the very white suburbs of Massachusetts and has never seen a place where Black people are the norm. Throughout the novel, other people have told him who he is, projecting stereotypes and baggage onto him. Now Dike knows exactly who he is and where he comes from, and he can decide his own identity. Despite this affirming visit, Ifemelu does not invite Dike to move to Nigeria because she recognizes that he grew up in America. Nigeria is an important part of his identity, but not his whole identity.

The climax of the novel comes when Obinze comforts Ifemelu in the bookstore because it reaffirms the love they had as teenagers, a love that is founded upon and deepens with honesty and truth. Ifemelu feels safe when Obinze reacts to her story about the tennis coach, echoing the sense of ease she felt not long after their first meeting. Even when Ifemelu tells a story about one of the lowest points of her life, Obinze creates ease in Ifemelu, allowing her to accept how she feels at that moment and be without fear of judgment. This ease and acceptance survives intercontinental distance and long silences, indicating that their love for each other has survived all of these hardships as well.