Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! WOW! Words cannot describe how much this woman has impacted my life.
I first discovered Chimamanda, a Nigerian author, at quite a young age when I saw her book ‘The Purple Hibiscus’ on my sister’s bookshelf. I was too young to read it at the time, and to be frank, it intimidated me due to its big size. However, I was always drawn to it and I still don’t know why. Maybe it was the beautiful cover image of a woman and a purple hibiscus, or maybe it was just fate. Let’s just say I was drawn to Chimamanda and her work before I even knew who she was.
When I finally gained the courage to pick up this ‘big’ book, I couldn’t put it down. I was hooked and couldn’t get enough! I then moved on to her other book ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, and couldn’t get enough of that either! I watched the film adaptation and fan-girled the entire time! My ‘relationship’ with Chimamanda’s work did not end there, as it seemed to follow me everywhere. I happened to study one of her books ‘Americanah’, and it’s safe to say that I’ve read and analysed it word by word and can even recite some quotes from it. Somebody give me my accolades! I deserve them.
By now, you can obviously tell that I love Chimamanda’s works and you would totally believe me if I said I’ve read all her books (I actually have!)
Though I’ve taken so much from her stories and apply the lessons learned in my everyday life, I cannot deny the fact that Chimamanda as an individual, a woman, a whole being, is a force to be reckoned with and will forever remain a legend in my eyes!
Not only is Chimamanda an author, but a feminist advocate. No, don’t roll your eyes at the word ‘feminist’. I know way too many people, both men and women, who see feminism as a radical, anti-men movement. I saw it as such once upon a time. However, Chimamanda’s words on it changed how I saw the movement.
“Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
Like many, I first heard Chimamanda’s world-famous TEDx talk ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ on Beyonce’s song ‘Flawless’. At first, I didn’t really listen, but as time passed, I heard her loud and clear. Feminism wasn’t some man-bashing parade that threw the male species under the bus. It was a movement for equality, not in terms of biological composition, but basic human rights. I saw the light and since then, it has not dimmed. Women don’t want to be men or take away their ‘masculinity’, they just want to be seen in the light and not be a shadow to the man or treated as second-class citizens.
You get the gist.
Chimamanda has inspired many, especially in Africa. As an African woman, she understands the barriers the patriarchy has set in place for her fellow African women, as some outdated cultural practices and beliefs such as FGM work against us. She understands why an unmarried or childless woman under thirty is looked down on, and why millions of girls are uneducated and facing child marriage. She gets it. She champions for what I would call African Feminism.
“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
Multifaceted is a word I would use to describe Chimamanda. That should be her middle name. Chimamanda ‘Multifaceted’ Ngozi Adichie or Chimamanda Ngozi ‘Multifaceted’ Adichie. Which one sounds better? You decide!
I say this because she not only advocates for women, but Africans as a whole. Being well-traveled, it is without a doubt that she has faced the harsh realities of being an African outside Africa. She has witnessed and experienced many forms of ignorance and is not afraid to speak out against it.
To many, Africa has always been and will always be the ‘Dark’ continent. Not only because of the rich melanin that flows through its veins, but the sick stereotypes of it being diseased, poverty-ridden and full of idle minds, with no hope for a better future. Such a skewed narrative, right?
“If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa was from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner,”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story
Chimamanda strives to change the bias Africa faces on a daily by telling the many stories of its people in her writing and various interviews. One interview of hers that I particularly enjoyed, was conducted by French journalist, Caroline Broué.
Broué said, “When you talk about Nigeria in France, unfortunately there is not much said about Nigeria, but when people talk about Nigeria it’s about Boko Haram, it’s about violence, it’s about security. I should like you to tell us something about Nigeria which is different, talk about it differently, and that is why I’m saying are there bookshops? Of course I imagine there are.”
From this, we observe how a ‘single story’, has created a stereotype for Nigeria, and many African countries fall victim to this. Chimamanda delivered a beautiful response, which made the interview go viral.
She said, “You know I think it reflects very poorly on French people that you’ve had to ask me that question. I really do. Because I think, surely it’s 2018. I mean, come on. My books are read in Nigeria. They’re studied in schools, not just in Nigeria but across Africa and it means a lot to me because obviously, I’m very grateful to be read everywhere in the world but there’s something about being read by the people about whom you write.”
With this response, she tore the single story apart and created a new narrative and this is what she does in her work – she rips single stories apart and creates multiple ones through the characters and I love her for that!
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda is what the new generation of Africa needs and fortunately has. She is proudly unapologetic in who she is and what she stands for. That’s why she inspires me. She took what she believed in, ran with it and hasn’t stopped running since.
I don’t think she’ll ever stop running and even when she gets what she wants, she will run for something else. That’s the kind of woman Chimamanda is and that’s why she is one of our WCWs.
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