Just days after the renowned author spoke to JSTOR on feminism in Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie appears in Vice i-D's Earthwise Issue for an interesting interview she did over the phone.
For fans of the 'Americanah'' author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, it is not news that every interview she does is a new avenue to receive knowledge. This time, she dishes on different issues from body positivity to feminism, to the need for representation in every industry, and a bit about her social life.
Though looked upon as a feminist icon and starting her writing journey at just five years old, she didn't always set out knowing she would become such an defining voice in the world. She tells Candace Carty-Williams:
“I’m not sure how many creative people know what they want to say, right? To write is to explore, and part of it is also the journey and not the destination.”
Even her parents didn't think much of her talents. They encouraged her to pursue a career in Medicine which she tried to do, for a year and a half, at the University of Nigeria.
“I think as most sensible Nigerian parents do, mine expected me to study something that would enable me to earn a living. You were supposed to do something sensible, and write at night.”
On her love for writing, she says: “It’s the thing that gives meaning to my life, really. I have the good fortune to be published widely, to be read, but if I didn’t have that good fortune, I would still be writing, because it matters so deeply.”
When asked to pick her favourite work from her collection, the author of three novels, a collection of short stories and two unconventional non-fiction pieces said :
“It’s like asking a woman who has four children! My mother has six children, and I often tease her about my brother being her favourite, and she says, ‘No no no, I love all my children equally.’ So I’m going to do what my mother does and say ‘I love all my books equally’. And then I’m going to say in a smaller voice, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun has the most emotional significance for me.’’’
The least subtle of the novels and the one with the most literary arguments has to be 'Americanah'. Book clubs and literary enthusiasts love to pick sides between the characters — Obinze or Ifemelu? — or talk about the issues the book so unrelentingly brings up. The author, herself confirms this: “I really did think that it probably wouldn’t do very well, because Americanah isn’t very interested in being subtle about race. I’ve been amused by how many non-black people have said it was an education. They’re like ‘Really? So that’s what happens?’ And I’m like ‘Yes!’’’
'Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions', is the most recent publication from Adichie. It was a long Facebook post which was inspired by a question from a friend, asking how she could raise her daughter as a feminist. The interviewer asked Adichie on how the Feminist Manifesto has been received by Nigerian fathers:
“I should say, in Nigeria, there’s a lot of hostility around feminism. This is from both men and women. So by taking on a public case of feminism, the response is always combative, and there’s a refusal to engage. With that said, there’s a young man, not yet a father, who just got married, who said to me that it was so important for him to read that book because it’s made him think about the kind of father he wants to be. Though of course I’ve heard of men who have said, ‘How dare you tell us? You now want us to become women.’ You just say nothing to that. You move on."
One thing that isn't in doubt is that people are drawn to Adichie, and she, in turn, loves people. There's hardly a TED Talk she delivers without referencing a dear friend or acquaintance she had a pleasant meeting with. When asked if she is an introvert or extrovert, she replies: “I’m a people person. I think there are two different kinds of writers. There are writers who are interested in ideas primarily, and writers who are interested in people primarily, and I am interested in people.”
Read the full interview at i-D's The Earthwise Issue, no. 353, Fall 2018