This Is Why We Should All Be Reading Chimamanda

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In 2009, a black woman got herself up on a stage and talked to a lot of people about the danger of telling just one history. The video has now over 14 million views. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author, is one of the most-talked feminists nowadays. Her texts and novels are known all over the world and her thoughts about feminism, gender and prejudice are inspirational.

Chimamanda spent almost 20 minutes telling the world about her childhood in Nigeria and her experience knowing only European histories at a TED conference — a non-profit conference series that spread knowledge of all kind). That discourse spread quickly and her way of changing what people say caught everyone’s attention. However, not only she shocked the world in TED Talks, but also has been helping people with her novels since 2003. 

Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), is a fusion of autobiography and fiction. The protagonist, Kambili, describes how her father, Eugene, begin to destroy their family by being extremely religious and prejudiced. Even though being a famous Nigerian industrial man, Eugene fears Nigerian traditions — and damnation. Because of that fear, he rejects his own father, a storyteller, and his sister, a famous teacher. This story paints a portrait around Nigerian actuality and even started to trace Chimamanda’s path in literature.

Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), Chimamanda’s second book, describes three different characters going through Biafra’s struggle to stablish an independent republic in Nigeria, in the 1960’s. As the Nigerian troops advance, Ugwu, Olanna and Richard must fight for their lives. Besides that, what is even more tested is their trust and loyalty to one another. The novel, in 2007, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Orange Prize in fiction.

One of her best-known books, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is composed of twelve tales filled with sensibilities and experientialisms about immigration, racial inequality, religious conflicts and family relations. Narrated in second person, Chimamanda puts the reader in the protagonist’s place, causing empathy.

Americanah (2013) is the one that made the Nigerian reach the top of the most widely read books in the United States. In the novel, Ifemelu and Obinze are living their first love together, while Nigeria is going through dark times in the military government in 1990. Because of several protests, Ifemelu leaves Nigeria and travel to the USA to find different cultures. However, when she does that, what she finds is a little distinct of what she imagined. Not only the culture is different, but Americans also treat black people differently than she was used to. This book, just like the other ones, talks about immigration, prejudice and gender inequality.

In 2014, Chimamanda published We Should All Be Feminists, an adaptation of her own speech on TEDx Euston, in 2012. The woman describes how, when she was just a child, she was first called a “feminist” and how it sounded bad in the boy’s mouth. After that, she liked the term and started to call herself a “happy African feminist that doesn’t hates man, and likes to use lipstick and high heels for herself, and not for men.” 

Her last, but not least book is Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (2017). In the novel, the author gives parents fifteen suggestions on how to grow children in a feminist way. Those are simple and amazing hints on how to offer an equal formation for all kids. That’s why it’s destined for everyone: men, women, boys and girls.

Chimamanda has been heralded by The Washington Post Book World as "the 21st century daughter of Chinua Achebe". In 2010 she was chosen as one of the 20 most influential fiction authors with less than 40 years old — and also got in that list in 2014. The feminist has already made three speeches and her last one, We Should All Be Feminists, was incorporated in Beyoncé’s music, Flawless (2013).

She was born in a family with six brothers in Nsukka, in southeastern Nigeria. Her father, James Nwoye Adichie is a statistics teacher and her mother, Graça Ifeoma, is the First Secretary of the university in their town. Chimamanda studied medicine for a year and a half, dropped it and, with 19 years old, moved to United States to go to college. Studied communication and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, completed a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University (in 2003) and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in African Studies from Yale University (in 2008). She was the first woman to be Chief of Administration at the University of Nigeria.

Writing about a lot of subjects people need to talk about, Chimamanda is a wonderful author and serves as influence for millions of women all over the world. Her militancy and speeches are used by feminists groups to make other people understand what the movement is and isn’t about. Reading at least one of her books is a must do and cannot be left for tomorrow.