Ifemelu arrives in Lagos and feels overwhelmed by the noise and bustle. Her old friend Ranyinudo picks her up from the airport, teasing her about being an “Americanah,” but not even a real Americanah because she doesn’t have an American accent.
Ifemelu had built up a successful life for herself in America, but now she has left it behind and finds herself a kind of “immigrant” again, trying to find her old identity as a Nigerian.
Ranyinudo comes straight from a friend’s wedding to pick up Ifemelu, and she talks about how she met a rich man there while waiting outside the church. Ifemelu asks why she had to wait outside, and Ranyinudo laughs and says all the bridesmaids did, because their dresses were too “indecent.” Ifemelu can’t remember if this kind of thing used to happen in Lagos, but she feels like it didn’t.
Ifemelu now feels disconnected from life in Nigeria, and can’t tell where it might have changed or if she has been the one changed. Ranyinudo’s anecdote brings up the subject of religious hypocrisy again.
Ranyinudo takes Ifemelu to her apartment. The gatemen says “welcome back” to her, as if he somehow knows she has returned. These words, combined with the smells in the air, make Ifemelu feel suddenly nostalgic and melancholy, and when she goes into Ranyinudo’s apartment she can’t believe that she has really gone through with it and returned to Nigeria.
Ifemelu is in an in-between state now, an “Americanah” who doesn’t even fit that stereotype. She feels nostalgic and out of place in Nigeria, but doesn’t even have the American accent or new arrogance to go along with the typical expatriate attitude.
They watch TV and Ranyinudo disparages the Nigerian news, which she says can’t even tell lies well. Ranyinudo mostly watches American channels. She gossips about their old friends, and who has married rich or has gotten rich through fraud. Ifemelu watches Ranyinudo and wonders if she would resemble her friend if she had never left Nigeria. Ranyinudo has been dating a married executive for two years, but she is always looking for a husband. Ranyinudo has Don (the boyfriend) buy things for her instead of paying for them herself.
Ifemelu had observed American culture with an outsider’s eye, and now she is doing the same thing with Nigerian culture, since so many years have passed that it feels foreign to her. Adichie turns her critical eye on the materialistic culture of Lagos, and the unhealthy romantic relationships that are based on money and power instead of love or mutual respect.
There hasn’t been power in Ranyinudo’s building for a week straight, and everyone has generators for these outages. Ifemelu complains about the humidity and Ranyinudo makes fun of her for being an Americanah. Ifemelu feels guiltily grateful that she has an American passport, and so she always has the choice of leaving again if she wants to.
Ifemelu feels almost like a tourist in her own country, disconnected from the intimate daily life and grateful that she now has the freedom to leave whenever she wants to. The lack of basic resources is still a problem in Nigeria.