“Season of Migration to the North” suggests instantaneously by its sheer heading that something is either going or has gone awry. Environment gets distorted, and immigration instead of heading south heads for the North. During drought, in the ancient times, birds would be seen fleeing to other areas with favorable climatic conditions in search for food just like animals would, for greener pastures. The story is about Mustafa Saeed, a Sudanese prodigy who goes to pursue higher education first in Cairo, and later in London, where he engages in a search for women and eventually falls for one. After matrimony consummated by violence and a prison sentence, he returns home, moving to a miniature village along the Nile where he remarries and bears children. He finally disappears inexplicably in a flood. The story touches on the role of women and sexual mores, colonial haughtiness, the politics of sovereign Sudan, and more. (Amyuni, 1985)
This story exposes through an anonymous narrator who, having pursued a degree in poetry abroad returns to be employed in Khartoum as an educator. He not only reveals Mustafa's tale in pieces but also out of order. Some of it from Mustafa’s confessions, while others from what remains after by him and also through other people. He confesses to the narrator that he, in fact, killed a lady while in the United Kingdom. Mustafa narrates his history of sexual exploits and subsequent incarceration with surprising detail, leaving a lasting mark on the reporter that only grows upon his disappearance from the village, leaving the narrator in charge of his two sons and wife.
Mustafa who exaggerates and exploits his own uniqueness so as to attract as many astounded white ladies as possible-in fact achieves indisputable emotional and sexual intimacy with a partner. The occurrence defies physical description; he, in fact, has an outstanding description of his experience. He says; when he grasped her, it was like bedding a shooting star, or grasping at clouds. The story’s disappointments, misunderstandings and violence appear each time these characters fall back on clichés, like Mustafa’s sexualized slay of a British woman. Although the white women in the story are also depicted like being strong and difficult to deal with, in fact, we encounter an episode in page 162 where the writer says, (Salih, 1991)
“I knew she was being unfaithful to me; the whole house was smelling infidelity. Once, I found a man’s handkerchief, which wasn’t mine, “it’s yours” she said when I asked her, “this handkerchief isn’t mine” I told her. “Assuming it is not your handkerchief” she said, “what are you going to do about it?” On another occasion, I found a cigarette case, then a pen. “You are being unfaithful to me” I said to her. “Suppose am being unfaithful to you,” she added, “I swear I’ll kill you”, I shouted at her. “You only say that”, she said with a jeering smile, “what is stopping you from killing me, what are you waiting for? Perhaps you are waiting till you find a man lying on top of me, and even then I don’t think you’d do anything, you’d sit on the edge of the bed and cry.” she said.
Just how does the colonial familiarity influence the best of African young men? The answer then would be it perverts them with sham ideals. When both the narrator and Mustafa return home, suspicion welcomes them, one that make the reporter even be asked questions about his engagements with the English ladies abroad, the writer’s sister even says they thought he would bring with him an uncircumcised infidel for a wife. It is this fear and suspicion that make Mustafa opt for an alternative settlement away from his kinsmen. He resorts to remain silent about his experience with the English women and upon revelation; he commits suicide because of the fear of being disowned by the society. To the people at home they are considered outcasts. (Amyuni, 1985)
Amyuni, M. T. (1985). Season of migration to the North: a casebook . Michigan: American University of Beirut .
Salih, T. (1991). Season of migration to the North . Portsmouth: PublisherHeinemann .