Americanah

Americanah Characters

Ifemelu

The novel’s main protagonist, an intelligent, stubborn, outspoken Nigerian woman who moves to America to attend university. She has difficulty adjusting there but eventually becomes a citizen, wins a fellowship at Princeton, and starts a… (read full character analysis)

Obinze Maduewesi

The other protagonist, a calm, thoughtful, intelligent young Nigerian man. He is raised by his mother, a professor, and is very well-read and obsessed with America. He moves to England after graduating university and… (read full character analysis)

Aunty Uju

Ifemelu’s aunt, an intelligent, strong-willed doctor. In Nigeria she becomes the mistress of The General and lives off of his wealth, but then she has to flee to America, where she lives a life… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Dike
The child of Aunty Uju and The General, a precocious and innocent boy who grows up to be a funny, popular teenager. His outgoing personality hides depression and a crisis of identity, however, as Dike once attempts suicide.
Ifemelu’s Mother
A super-religious woman who uses her faith to try to hide from the corrupt realities of the world. She loves Ifemelu but doesn’t understand her very well.
Ifemelu’s Father
An intelligent, verbose man who always wanted to go to graduate school but had to work instead. He uses big words and humors his wife’s extremism without joining in.
Obinze’s Mother
A professor at the University of Nigeria, she is intelligent and plainspoken, feeling no shame about discussing sex or injustice. Ifemelu comes to admire and love her, as she respects and cares about Ifemelu.
Ginika
Ifemelu’s sweet, quiet friend who was first set up with Obinze before he pursues Ifemulu. Ginika moves to America and then helps Ifemelu adjust there, finding her the job with Kimberly.
Blaine
An African-American professor at Yale who is very principled and high-minded. Ifemelu dates him for a long time, and they share a passion for Barack Obama.
Curt
Kimberly’s cousin, a rich, handsome white man who falls in love with Ifemelu and dates her for a long time. Curt is very optimistic and spontaneous, and everything always seems to fall into place for him.
Kosi
Obinze’s wife, an exceptionally beautiful women who is very traditionally-minded and domestic. She is a good wife but has little in common with Obinze.
Buchi
Obinze’s young daughter with Kosi, whom he loves dearly.
Kimberly
Ifemelu’s first boss and friend in America, a wealthy, liberal white woman who is charitable and friendly but very privileged.
Ranyinudo
Ifemelu’s friend from school who stays in Nigeria. She helps Ifemelu adjust to moving back to Lagos.
Aisha
The African hairdresser braiding Ifemelu’s hair. She wants to marry an Igbo who has U.S. papers in order to get American citizenship.
Shan
Blaine’s beautiful and intelligent but domineering sister. She seems to have a special power over people, but uses it selfishly.
Chief
A Nigerian “big man” who helps Obinze get rich.
Nneoma
Obinze’s cousin who lets him stay with her after he is deported, and introduces him to Chief.
The General
A wealthy, powerful man in the Nigerian government who takes Aunty Uju as his mistress and then supports her. He is the father of Dike. He dies in a plane crash that is rumored to be an assassination.
Sister Ibinabo
A sanctimonious, domineering woman at Ifemelu’s mother’s church.
Kayode
The most popular guy in the secondary school, Obinze’s friend.
Emenike
A boy who is very ambitious and lies about being rich. He is friends with Obinze but then goes to England, gets wealthy, and becomes pretentious and patronizing.
Odein
A young man Ifemelu is attracted to at university in Nsukka.
Mariama
The owner of the salon where Ifemelu gets her hair braided.
Halima
The other woman braiding hair at Mariama’s salon.
Marlon & Jane
A couple from Grenada whom Ifemelu befriends in Brooklyn until Marlon propositions her.
Bartholomew
A rude Nigerian man whom Aunty Uju dates and marries in America, before ultimately leaving him.
Elena
Ifemelu’s white roommate who has a dog and dislikes Ifemelu.
Cristina Tomas
A white girl at the American university who is patronizing to Ifemelu because of her accent.
Wambui
Ifemelu’s friend in the African Students Association. She encourages Ifemelu to embrace her natural hair.
Mwombeki
An outgoing Tanzanian student in the African Students Association.
The Tennis Coach
A white man who posts online about a job helping him “relax.” He touches Ifemelu sexually and then gives her $100.
Laura
Kimberly’s unfriendly sister.
Don
Kimberly’s narcissistic husband, whom she adores.
Taylor
Kimberly’s son, an innocent and playful boy.
Morgan
Kimberly’s daughter, who is withdrawn, intelligent, and judgmental, though she seems to like and respect Ifemulu.
Kelsey
A white girl who comes into Mariama’s salon to get her hair braided.
Abe
A white man Ifemelu has a crush on, but he doesn’t see her as female or romantically viable.
Curt’s Mother
A chilly, wealthy woman who seems to disapprove of Ifemelu.
Barack Obama
A black politician who is elected president. Ifemelu becomes a passionate supporter of his candidacy.
Michelle Obama
Barack’s wife, a black woman whom Ifemelu greatly admires.
The Angolans
Two seemingly identical men who take care of the business behind Obinze’s green-card marriage.
Cleotilde
The young woman Obinze is supposed to marry to gain citizenship in England.
Nicholas
Obinze’s cousin who lives in England. He used to be wild in Nigeria but the responsibilities of parenthood and the stress of life as an immigrant in England have made him very responsible.
Ojiugo
Nicholas’s wife, who also used to be wild in college.
Nosa
Obinze’s friend who works in the subway in England.
Iloba
Obinze’s distant (and technically unrelated) cousin who lives in England and helps Obinze find work.
Vincent Obi
The Nigerian man who lets Obinze use his National Insurance card for a fee, but later turns him in.
Roy Snell
Obinze’s kind and welcoming boss at his warehouse job.
Nigel
A young Englishman who works with Obinze and later becomes his “General Manager” and moves to Nigeria.
Georgina
Emenike’s English wife, a lawyer.
Araminta
Blaine’s best friend.
Paula
Blaine’s white ex, an activist and academic.
Boubacar
A Senegalese professor at Yale whom Ifemelu befriends.
Mr. White
An old security guard at Yale who is racially profiled.
Jonathon and Isioma
Two of Kosi’s wealthy friends.
Don
Ranyinudo’s rich married boyfriend.
Aunty Onenu
Ifemelu’s boss at Zoe.
Priye
Ifemelu’s friend from school who becomes a wedding planner.
Zemaye
Ifemelu’s coworker at Zoe, a very sexual woman.
Doris
Ifemelu’s other coworker at Zoe, who lived in New York.
Esther
The super-religious receptionist at Zoe.
Fred
A pretentious man from the Nigerpolitan Club whom Ifemelu sleeps with.
Edusco
A friendly businessman Obinze haggles with in Abuja.
Okwudiba
Obinze’s good friend in Nigeria, another wealthy but honest man.