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“Elnathan Was One of My Boys at the Workshop” | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s comments on 2013 Caine Prize in Boston Reader interview cause a Stir!



“Elnathan Was One of My Boys at the Workshop” – nine words which caused quite a media circus on social networking website, Twitter a few days ago. On Monday morning, the Nigerian literary world woke up to a certain furor caused by an interview which had been published in the Boston Review.

Nigerian writer and Orange Prize winner Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had an interview with Aaron Bady in which she spoke about her work, race, her friendship with Binyavanga Wainaina and more. Then she spoke about the Caine Prize for African Writing and her thoughts on the awarding body.

Below is an excerpt of the interview – “The varieties of blackness” with Aaron Bady.

AB: I would love to ask you about the Caine Prize. I find it interesting that so many Nigerians are on the short list this year—that it’s four Nigerians out of five . . .

CA: Umm, why is that a problem? Watch it.

AB: Well, none of them are you!

CA: Elnathan was one of my boys in my workshop. But what’s all this over-privileging of the Caine Prize, anyway? I don’t want to talk about the Caine Prize, really. I suppose it’s a good thing, but for me it’s not the arbiter of the best fiction in Africa. It’s never been. I know that Chinelo is on the short list, too. But I haven’t even read the stories—I’m just not very interested. I don’t go the Caine Prize to look for the best in African fiction.

AB: Where do you go?

CA: I go to my mailbox, where my workshop people send me their stories. I could give you a list of ten—mostly in Nigeria—writers who I think are very good. They’re not on the Caine Prize short list.

Also, you do realize that Nigeria is the most populous country, and we have a crazy, chauvinistic nationalism. So when you say anything bad about Nigeria, we attack you, but when we all go back to Nigeria, we attack each other. That’s how it works. We’re very happy that there are four. Actually, we think all the people on the short list should be Nigerians, because we are born with the natural arrogance of the Nigerians. Of course, what’s wonderful is that there’s nothing to be arrogant about. Nigerians feel very superior to Ghana, for example, but then you go to Accra, and Accra actually works [laughs].

Who’s the other Nigerian on the short list? There’s Chinelo and Elnathan but I don’t know who the others are.

Read the full text of the interview {HERE}

Caine Prize nominee and social commentator, Elnathan John who had participated in the Adichie organized Farafina workshop took to Twitter to express his thoughts on Chimamanda’s words.

From L - R: Elnathan John, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Chinelo Okparanta, Tope Folarin, Pede Hollist

From L – R: Elnathan John, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Chinelo Okparanta, Tope Folarin, Pede Hollist

Here are some of ElNathan’s tweets




Then, Elnathan responded to the interview by putting up a new post,”The Consequences of Loving Ngozi” on his blog, “The Dark Corner” where he expressed his disdain for her comments.

Also, here are some mixed responses from his followers on Twitter:





Angry tweets from Abubakar Ibrahim (One of the Caine Prize nominees)

Tweets from prolific writer and satirist, Ikhide Ikheloa

Finally, this response from Arts & Culture Editor Molara Wood on Chimamanda’s own reaction to being called a “girl”

Concerning Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s use of “one of my boys” and the debates surrounding. I woke up this morning and remembered something from my days as Arts & Culture Editor of NEXT and, all things considered, I wish to share it.

Ms Adichie graced the cover of the 16-page weekly supplement I edited at least three or four times, looking stunning on each one – and featured on countless sideboxes, top banners, etcetera. On one of the covers, I wrote a banner along these lines: ‘The Glamour Girl of Nigerian Writing’. Myself and my team meant this as a compliment, but the author did not share that view. I had known her personally for several years, with emails and telephone numbers for two continents, yet Ms Adichie lodged a complaint directly with my bosses at NEXT, who in turn oommunicated her displeasure to me.

It was not so much the word “Glamour”. The author objected to the use of the word “Girl”, especially as she was now over 30. I sent an email to Ms Adichie, copied to my bosses, in which I offered the author my unreserved apologies.


What do you guys think? Was Chimamanda trying to belittle the Caine Prize? Did Elnathan go overboard in his response to Adichie?


  1. Moi

    July 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Hhmmm… I found the ruckus sorrounding that interview a bit confusing. I have deep respect for CNA and her works. IMO, she’s sorta like the one who took the baton from CA. This makes me a tad biased I guess. I would like to believe that she didn’t mean the ‘boy’ reference to be condescending. Now, in the abscence of prior bad blood, it probably would not have been read as an insult. maybe at most, laughable by the said ‘boy’. For him to reactwith so much anger… well, all voltrons should sheath their swords, the Robeast had been launched long before y’all came on board! Now, ‘Boy’ is entitled to be angry, but he, like most people, need to appreciate the far reaching consequences of a social media diatribe… So, maybe he shoulda addressed this with her rather than defend his manhood so ‘defensively’…. However, like the (shockingly aggrieved) Khalifa dude said, CNA is quite competent in articulating herself, so maybe there was something she was trying to say. I don;t know much about the Caine prize beyond that Nigerians almost always win it and it was part of CNA’s resume when she shot into international limelight. So , maybe she knows a thing or two in retrospect that Caine is not doing right to promote African literature. This my long story is too much sef! lol! Summary, ElNathan, I think you went a little overboard. CNA, are you belittling the days of ‘small beginings’?

    • OK

      July 17, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      ” This my long story is too much sef!” …LOL send it Chimamanda’s mailbox, you’d be surprised you’d end up in her shortlist…LOL..anyway to the issue at hand, the telling phrase in the interview that sums up everything transpiring is: chauvinistic nationalism. In this case chauvinistic pride. Pride, no matter what form it takes is in practically every Nigerian’s blood, so it would have been most unNigerian if Chimamanda hadn’t said what she said the way she said it. In the same breadth, it would be very unNigerian for Elnathan, Abubakar and co not to react the way they did…they are all just exercising their rights to chauvinistic pride, after all its in our blood.

    • dan

      July 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      When the breeze blows, the anus of the hen is exposed: this situation exposed Abubakar Ibrahim as an arrogant person. That “go fuck yourself” statement was uncalled for.

  2. nino

    July 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I have had the “priviledge” of meeting chimamanda, before i met her…i suppose i idolized her…then i met her at the farafina workshop and wish i did not…there was something patronizing and mean about her, as if her success made her feel she had a right to be idolized…she smiled and it did not reach her eyes, she was cold to people…it was odd…i could not get around it…
    Was one of those moments when you realize people are not always what they seem…she may just be a sweet person who was having a bad day that day but somehow i feel she was at her best…like a demi god looking down at her subjects and that line up there just confirms it…”my boy”…who uses that except silly politicians?

    • chioma

      July 17, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      unfortunately I felt thesame way reading Amiricanah (which I thought was pretty bad btw) ; this is coming from someone that respected her a great deal. As they say, pride comes before the fall

    • missindividual

      July 17, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      Sadly I have to agree with you nino. There is something very condescending about the way she talks and interacts with people. I was so disappointed when I met her. My friends and I payed money to see her at a book reading of americanah somewhere in the UK. We also paid a ridiculous amount for her book (in my opinion) and she refused to take pictures with her fans which i guess is her choice but aside from that she was very cold and distant and fake for lack of a better word. the icing on the cake came when she made a rude comment towards me about my hair (because i wear a weave) I dont believe that her views must be the views of mankind and its sad that she thinks that way. Knowing what i know now i feel as though her statements in the interview came from a mean place. More importantly it is sad that nigerians cannot support other nigerians when they achieve greatness on an international level also look at the comments she made about nigeria as well. what a shame!

    • John

      July 17, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      It sounds as if Ms. Adichie needs some schooling on social skills. She doesn’t seem to be hitting it off with her fans. Here are my thoughts on what she needs to do.

      1) Be genuinely nice to your fans both in public and in private. They buy your books and keep you in business. You never know what impression you leave with them.

      2) Limit your conversations to your writings and nothing else. Pay genuine complements to your colleagues. You may need them tomorrow.

      3) You are not an expert on every subject and you should not try to cajole everyone to see your point of view (e.g. hair, feminism). It smacks of arrogance and lack of empathy. The more you deviate from your writing and start speaking on other subjects, the more likely you are to run into trouble with your fans. This has the potential of damaging your brand.

      4) Articulate your thoughts before saying it. Every word that comes out of your mouth is weighed and scrutinized by a lot of people.

      5) Give encouragement to the up and comers. Do not address them in a disrespectful manner. Just as you have a mouth and can speak your mind, there are far bigger mouths in Nigeria who can equally spew more toxic that will damage your brand

    • Idak

      July 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Of course people are never what you think they are.Especially when you set them on pedestals that you yourself have been unable to attain. I never fail to remember that every man,bar none is a work in progress.

    • Ade

      July 17, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      My friend said the same thing. And she needs to chill on the natural hair thing it’s quite irritating that someone is telling me to keep my migraine causing hair texture so that I can be african. O wow. And the book was way to long (Americanah .)

    • deep

      July 24, 2013 at 9:59 am

      migraine causing hair? You must still be a caveman (in your thinking).

    • Juliet

      July 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      I too met CNA and I totally agree with you, she is extremely cold in person.

    • Missy

      July 18, 2013 at 7:28 am

      Chiamanda has shown herself to be a disgustingly petty person. Just because she wasn’t short listed for the Caine prize, she went off on it and the people who were short listed and then tried to back pedal by talking some nonsense about all Nigerians being arrogant and having the tendency to attack each other because she realised that her “bitch side” was showing. It’s disgusting.

    • Busola

      July 18, 2013 at 8:34 am

      I don’t think Ameericanah is her best yet.. It had an ok storyline, but its narration was all over the place.. Sometimes, she lost me. I also think one of its major characters Ifemelu had fragments of her written all over it.. It made me wonder if she chose to write about herself. I still respect Chiamanda but in my opinion, half of a yellow sun was a better read than Ameericanah.

    • Naija4life

      August 1, 2013 at 3:12 am

      Agree with Nino. Maybe it’s the shine alone syndrome

  3. Curious

    July 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Wahala, wahala everywia! hmmm…Folks should just get on with their day and ditch the useless drama abeg!

  4. Brezzy

    July 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I think this whole thing is a huge misunderstanding. What I got from her interview was that the Caine Prize is not necessarily the best platform to discover the best African writers. Although, I can sense some arrogance in Chiamanda’s words.

  5. Madam the Madam

    July 17, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Elnathan needs to quit crying and suck it up. I found his response to be beyond immature and just extra. I personally would have ignored it. Well, he should at least thank Chimamanda because prior to the whole uproar about the interview, I had no idea who he was.

    As for the Ibrahim or whatever his name is, see panadol drinking o. Who mentioned his name? Abeg that one should fade into the corner that he came from.

    I generally felt that everybody and thier mother on Twitter made the thing a big deal. Yes, Chimamanda can be extra opinionated and condescending sometimes but should that cause people to have thier panties in a bunch? Let your work speak for itself and prove your skills as an excellent write. All these crying on Twitter and publishing blogposts on the matter was highly unneccesary.

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      July 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      tell them o!

    • zee

      July 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

      Though you have to admit that if Elnathan had called her “girl”, she wouldn’t have taken ‘a chill pill’. To much pride i must say.

  6. Foluke

    July 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    As my sis said, sometin don dey do the geh! Wrote a piece on this on my blog,

  7. Osie

    July 17, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    First of all, reading through the interview CA granted had me going all shades of green on her behalf(imagine!) funny how because you’ve read 3 of someone’s stories, you assume you know her and voila: she reminds you that none indeed is perfect. I think her choice of words(regarding this elnathan guy) were belittling, careless, rude and too inappropriate. Everybody knows that art is mostly subjective. I mean, people could set up a million criteria and guidelines by which ‘good art’ could art could be adjudged but at the end of the day, it is a matter of personal opinion. I haven’t read any of Elnathan’s fictional stories but i follow him on twitter, read his articles here and there and generally enjoy them. So why she, CA chose to speak about the Nigerian nominees in that tone suggests volumes; either someone was being hormonal, having a bad day or someone’s beginning to feel somewhat upstaged. No need CA, you are genius at what you do, i, for one loved Americanah as i did your other stories. I, for one will continue to read your books and so will I, Elnathan’s, Chinelo’s, Abubakar’s, Tope’s, and all the other writers’ whose work have not made it into your mailbox.

    • Manny

      July 18, 2013 at 1:26 am

      agreed. I loved the new book but I couldn’t help thinking Ms. CNA fancies herself quite above the rest of us.

  8. pride

    July 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm


  9. nwanyi na aga aga

    July 17, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Even though i have read many of El nathan’s work and ve not read any of Amanda’s work and might not any time soon. I will say Elnathan was being Childish and sexist. If it was a male writer that called him ‘my boy’ it wouldnt matter. Yes I am looking at it from that angle! El Nathan should pls relax and let the matter go. As for Khalifa guy i have no words. Then Tolu Ogunlesi whose duty is to whip up bad blood he should go and try something challenging like helping the poor.I said it on twitter and will say it again if Amanda was some guy who hangs out with Elnathan @ a beer joint, it wouldnt have made news but how dare a woman call him ‘her boy’? Have no one ever looked at the fact that she was famzing in this issue? showing how familiar she was with him? No they wont because there is already bad blood. As El nathan said they already had issues, so it was so easy for it to be viewed as condescending. All of them should go and rest biko.

    • Manny

      July 18, 2013 at 1:30 am

      I think it’s more about what came after the “boy”. She pretty much knocked their efforts. Some people think the Nobel Prize is a joke but I think it’s petty for say, a professor, to dismiss the Nobel Prize as irrelevant simply because the assistant professor down the hall got nominated.

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      July 18, 2013 at 7:22 am

      sorry i meant to write @ikhide not Tolu Ogunlesi all these devices will not kill me o.

    • OK

      July 19, 2013 at 1:21 am

      LOL, damn you auto-correct!!

    • vgbg

      July 18, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Your words, my thoughts. Very well said. Fin!

    • obitalk

      July 18, 2013 at 10:15 am

      your comments just shows that you don’t know this Nathan Man at all. it has nothing to do with her being female. Nathan is very on women equality and your point is just plain wrong.

  10. Obi

    July 17, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I guess this is the consequence of having idols. You will be sorely disappointed. I love Chimamanda’s “books”, but I don’t know her enough to love “her”. I also adore what I believe to be Chinua Achebe’s literary spirit channeled through his writings. But still, I don’t know him beyond his books and what I read in the papers or from people who actually met him. Remember, relationships are subjective, so is knowing someone. The Caine winner guy has a reason to feel “insert emotion” about Chimamanda’s words. But taking to twitter in such a manner was immature. O yes, he might still have tweeted his thoughts about it, but could have been more business minded about it. Imagine how much rep he could have gained if he said something much vague and less opinionated. Tweets like facebook posts are like the love letter you wrote to an ex and pray your spouse never has a reason to lose faith in you based on it. Caution is the watch-word.

  11. madman

    July 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Now that Achebe is dead, who will give her honest review of her work? Americanah SUCKED, SUCKED!! Exploring topics African-American feminists have already discussed and over-flogged is boring.

    • nikky

      July 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      I thought it was just me. I had really high expectations for that work coming off from half a yellow sin and no was dissatisfied with what I got.

    • Bliss

      July 18, 2013 at 2:34 am

      Coming from a guy, I’m not surprised that you think feminism has been over flogged and yet there are so many evils still committed against women everyday. Women staying in loveless abusive marriages because they don’t have enough self worth to know they deserve better. I would give more examples, but who am I kidding? You probably even know of more incidences “On the street where you live.” They/we haven’t flogged feminism enough, we are just getting started 😉
      Regarding the boy comment, its pretty obvious she said it in a cordial way. Chiamanda might be brutally honest, but I personally think her heart is in the right place. Sometimes a society needs matyrs(if you will) who prioritize speaking truthfully about social evils above fitting in.
      I didn’t see the whole interview, but we can go ahead and write off anything else she said that people may perceive as poor taste as proof she is human. I haven’t heard of any prior offences, so she was probably having a bad day. Hell, who needs writers who are sugar, spice and everything nice- perfection gets boring pretty quickly.

    • tatafo!

      July 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      God bless you for your 1st paragraph. Talking about issues women face is not an over-flogged issue.

  12. Abasiama

    July 17, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    If a man had called a fellow man “my boy” we wouldn’t be having this silly conversation. Elnathan’s blog post brought bile to my mouth. As for Abubakar, no words. The Caine Prize is not the be all and end all. You can say what you want to say about Adichie, you might not like her or her writing, but facts are facts. Her work will continue to speak for her. Elnathan and Abubakar might want to write more and tweet less. As for all the jealous, bitter wanna-be-famous-writers-but-can’t-write-to-save-their-lives tweeters, life isn’t fair. You’ll never be as pretty, as smart and as famous as Chimamanda. Deal with it.

    • Non professional opinion

      July 17, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Chimamanda… that you?
      Anyway I think it’s the difference between “my boy” which she didn’t say, and ” one of my boys” which she did. The first feels familiar while the latter, condescending.

    • Manny

      July 18, 2013 at 1:36 am

      Never be as pretty etc as CNA. Come on that’s a little bit silly to say. Like Chinua Achebe might have written, who knows tomorrow?

  13. oose

    July 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    hmm interesting .. i must say someone is finally using twitter appropraitely !!!! i loe it when people argue with passion without being rude .. clean words can pass the message #welldone bella this was a good read xx

  14. Product of public Education

    July 17, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Na wa o! Naija we like to the vent our angers on other sha! If na me I will just suck it up and build on the publicity and make head way from that. E no easy at all at of 160million people without good leadership and you are recognise be it in a good way or not too good way. All publicity is publicity. If na dem Abuja goons ref to someone as “boy” we no go hear cry o! Dem go collect money and clean mouth. Pls build on it my brother. Na boy the turn man tomorrow. That na my 1naira advise o.

  15. Idak

    July 17, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    I struggle to understand some of you. That she writes good (often not as spectacular as the hype that surrounds her) tales does not automatically mean that she is equipped with the moral fortitude to manage the ego that success breeds. Why do we find it difficult to accept that people can be talented in one area of life and be bankrupt in another? Why do we go looking for heroes and heroines in everyone that exhibits one form of talent or the other?
    She could be a good writer (which i think she is) and still be a narcissistic and egotistical twat. These two are not mutually exclusive.
    These whole storm is a product of the surreal pedestal most readers have placed her. I just read her books,enjoy the bits i enjoy and pass damning condemnation on those i think are below par. I rarely listen to what she has to say on most other topics,least of all her view on other writers. Writers behave like cult members. From the outside you never understand why they choose to celebrate the other writers they celebrate. Ms Adichie is always quick to sing the praises of her close friend,Binyavanga Wainaina. Yet i find nothing spectacular about his works.
    If she views the Caine prize the way she claims,why did she enter for it in the past?

    On a related note, i think this twitter thing is making a tout of supposedly decent men and women. Why make permanent statements in the heat of temporary discomfort? Most people tend to say things on Twitter before the thought process is completed in their brains. Some of those comments directed at Ms. Adichie are indefensible. Rude and swear words can never appear sophisticated.

    • zsa zsa

      July 17, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      @idak, you just spoke all of my mind 🙂 thank you. The author and the person should be separated.

    • Manny

      July 18, 2013 at 1:38 am

      I hundred percent agree with everything you have written

    • Laminde

      July 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

      I like you already, lol. God bless you for this!!!

    • Ada Nnewi

      July 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Idak you are a very very very sensible person!

  16. P

    July 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Using the word “boy” to describe anyone especially in Nigeria is belittling. I met CNA at a book signing abt a month ago and she seemed real chill and respectful. Her whole spew during the interview wasn’t needed. Now the nominee’s responses have been a little overdone. But remember its their own opportunity for 15 mins of fame so I get it. The writer, Ibrahim, didn’t do a good job representing himself by using cuss words. Not needed.

    • John

      July 17, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Agree with you @P. I can’t see how Ibrahim can win the Caine prize after what he just uttered on twitter. His attitude is unbecoming of a writer who should be held in high regard.

  17. St Naija

    July 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Great summary of tweets and views here. Celebrity comes with responsibility, a wise man overlooks an insult. A blog post where blog posts on the subject are condemned. A call to personal improvement. More gist on the ‘My Boy’ Chronicles on thenaijawriter, . Nice work.

  18. NAIJA 4 LIFE

    July 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm


    • Idak

      July 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Why all the shouting and screaming on top of your voice?

    • Bling

      July 18, 2013 at 1:00 am

      Please how does someone scream ontop if their voice? Looool

    • Uche

      July 18, 2013 at 4:02 am

      Abeg help me ask am oh

    • Chioma

      July 17, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Doesn’t change the fact that Amiricana lacked nuance, was condescending, overwrought and too damn long.

  19. ao

    July 17, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    It’s never a good idea to idolize another human being or an object. If you do, then prepare to be disappointed or worse, disrespected. All human beings are flawed. It is not Adichie’s fault that she did not meet YOUR expectation.

  20. Chick on fire

    July 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    My two cents. I perceive arrogance in her words. Saying ” one of my boys” about a grown man is absolutely degrading! Like how could you? …but most importantly, what I noticed/sensed is the lack of respect for her. How has she comported herself in the past that even with such a mistake she couldn’t be forgiven and lighter words used on her? She must not be respected by her own colleagues I think. This is a major bad PR for her as she has been demystified in Mandy’s eyes. She should apologies and be a bigger girl. To the guys I totally understand their grouse . The lesson here is men would always want to be treated as MEN or at least as colleagues. Lol

  21. Omo

    July 17, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Funny Chimamanda said it herself, “…and we have a crazy, chauvinistic nationalism. So when you say anything bad about Nigeria, we attack you, but when we all go back to Nigeria, we attack each other. That’s how it works…”
    There we go criticizing and calling each other names on twitter, I thought as human beings we were free to express our opinions, why the insults? she stated her opinion she is entitled to it. I don’t understand why people are salty or sour about it.

  22. Tiki

    July 17, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    This Elnathan is an idiot who cannot recognise a compliment even when it has sunk huge fangs in his ass! Any reasonable person can see that Chimamanda is PRAISING Elnathan as (1) someone whose opinion on good literature she trusts, and (2) someone noteworthy, at least to her, by virtue of their writing. PLUS she is saying SHE is not a big deal because she won the Caine prize, as the Caine prize is not the best judge of African literature.

    Granted, she could have been a bit more tactful, but as a writer I would have expected Elnathan to show a more tenacious grasp of word play and sarcasm. He’s making a mountain out of a molehill.

    As for that Abubakar Ibrahim – the fact that he wears his shirt collar out of his suit says it all. I can’t stand people who think in the face of a lack of intelligence, being crass will drive their point home!

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      July 17, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      “As for that Abubakar Ibrahim – the fact that he wears his shirt collar out of his suit says it all.”
      I had to scroll right back up to verify that fact for myself and thereafter had a good chuckle. BN commenters just slay me…

      Taking all that she said into context, I agree with you about and think her dismissiveness here was targeted at the notion of the Caine prize being the yardstick against which to judge good African writers. Unfortunately, the comment about Elnathan got smeared with the same tone.

      It’s probably time she hired a publicist, there’s a reason why they’re paid good money to deflect negative publicity. However, even her own misdeeds pale very significantly in comparison to the other two boys who went ranting all over twitter. What’s all that immaturity for? Man the heck up and keep it moving, biko. Did she insult your writing or, even worse, your mother? Wetin you wan answer literary critics, na? Your journey dey far, abeg.

    • slice

      July 18, 2013 at 1:12 am

      She didn’t win the caine prize.

    • Manny

      July 18, 2013 at 1:42 am

      Why don’t you grab a candy bar then go back to re-read the interview. There was nothing complimentary in what she said. You wouldn’t recognize biting words even when they have left marks on your body

    • Uche

      July 18, 2013 at 4:08 am

      Tiki, are you Nigerian? I don’t mean that offensively but calling someone ‘one of my boys’ is almost always said in a derogatory manner. The ‘boys’ are usually someone beneath you. I agree they went overboard but I am willing to bet my only 2 cents that Chimamanda was not given him a compliment. She even went ahead to say that the best African writers were not shortlisted for Caine. The Caine prize may not be the yardstick for recognizing great African literature granted but it seemed like she was dismissing something they had worked so hard to achieve. That’s the issue here. When you’re a celebrity, people hold you to higher standards

    • Yinkz

      July 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

      How will you feel if someone calls you an idiot for having an opinion about what was said about you?

  23. Nike

    July 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Hmm, madam Tiki she specifically said that the best writers in Nigeria were not shortlisted for the Caines prize. So yea, she wasn’t praising El Nathan

    • Kiki

      July 17, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      Thank you Nike. I was beginning to wonder which article/interview Madam Tiki read.

  24. AW

    July 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I honestly do not understand the Nigerian mentality of “that’s my boy!”. Anybody who has worked hard and earned his or her place should be given their due and not regarded as an offshoot of someone else, male or female. While it is right and respectful to acknowledge other people’s influence in whatever achievement an individual has attained, this should not be equated to the secondary school dichotomy of “senior” and school boy/girl”, doing this belittles the hardwork that individual has put into his or her achievements.

    • Chick on fire

      July 17, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Chick on fire loves this comment.

  25. Abi

    July 17, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I for one have little respect for people that speak about Nigerians in any negative form on an international platform. You rarely see other successful Country/ people speak in such manner about their own. We really must learn not to air our dirty laundry particularly to the very people that haven’t any positive thoughts about us as blacks and Africans. It’s so disappointing!

    • Idak

      July 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Consideringthe fact that the world has become a global village, the moment you air your dirty laundry,it is available for viewing by all and sundry. Almost every platform is now international. I hope you are not suggesting dirty laundry should be kept dirty forever? What does that tell us about your level of personal hygiene? 🙂

  26. CarliforniaBawler

    July 17, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    And this is why I don’t (like to) read fiction……

  27. Drpeperempe

    July 17, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Isn’t it possible that ” one of my boys” could mean one of my homies? She obviously doesn’t want the said award to be viewed as a yardstick for good Nigerian/African writing. I also don’t believe this would not have made the news had say the gutter mouthed Ibrahim had said Chiamamanda was one of his girls. But of course, when you believe you are littler than someone, everything they say will be read and interpreted in that context

    • Moi

      July 18, 2013 at 8:59 am

      I totally love this comment! Like I said earlier, there is probably prior bad blood lurking somewhere, hence all these interpretations. Why not think she meant it in a cool way as per, ‘my person’? After all, no be she be Americanah? lol!

    • Manny

      July 19, 2013 at 2:50 am

      Can you people not read? Do you not see what she went on to say after that? Of course, the Caine prize is not the litmus test for what is excellent or not. However, in the literary world, it gets you more noticed. It means a lot to these guys that are not yet established. There was a certain maliciousness to her words.

  28. Beauty

    July 17, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    @Naija 4life next time write without caps lock thanks! @CMA pride goes before a fall!!!

  29. X

    July 17, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    As I an Igbo girl, I’m cracking up at how Chimaamanda has been shortened to “Amanda.” Then finally CNA.

  30. milly

    July 18, 2013 at 12:43 am

    The fact that he came to your workshop does not make him your boy, it was his work and at least you should have given him credit for coming out with his own original material .Lets be frank here; your stories are obsolete anyway and I am not your fan and although I am an avid reader and I will never read your books and good for him too, follow!follow! Nigerians will follow anything just because it has been labelled by America,trust the British they have their way.

  31. jennifer

    July 18, 2013 at 1:18 am

    so because she made a comment and aired her opinion, that makes her a bad person. honestly people expect too much. you cannot expect because shes a celebrity writer she would have to be calm and pretend to be loving. yes she has an ego of a lion but please theres no need saying her novel was crap because its just simple beef to say such, (although ifemelu killed me). please learn to distinguish a writers personality and their work as idyak has said…

    • Manny

      July 19, 2013 at 2:52 am

      I loved the book on the whole but Ifemelu I could have slapped several times.

  32. NNENNE

    July 18, 2013 at 2:33 am

    Go ahead. Pull CNA down. Crab mentality, make sure she does not get ahead of you.SMH

  33. Klaire

    July 18, 2013 at 3:04 am

    I smell jealousy!

    • Idak

      July 18, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Her colleagues are smelling an egotistical person. That is the crux of the matter.

  34. Lyde

    July 18, 2013 at 4:39 am

    This fits right in with my knowledge of her. She is most definitely arrogant. Just because she didn’t make the shortlist doesn’t mean she should belittle those who did. I wish the Elnathan guy had more grace under pressure though. Oh well. Pain is pain I guess.

  35. Pepper

    July 18, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Mehn you guys should take a chill pill. All these reading meanings to an interview when u were not there, not sitted in the room I think is way overboard. As for the Abubarkar guy and ElNathan guy……smh. Boy things…

    • Manny

      July 19, 2013 at 2:55 am

      It doesn’t take much brain juice to realize from her interviews that Ms CNA’s ego can sink an island. I must agree though, girl is talented. That’s all that matters. If we cared about the chef’s ego, most restaurants would go un-patronized.

  36. Marta

    July 18, 2013 at 8:38 am

    I love intellectual discourse or the semblance of it. Bella you should do this very more often! Ive seen a slew of intelligent commentary that wasn’t necessarily on fashion or relationships, 🙂 Now to Chimamanda- I got off reading Americanah with a sense of having met a piece of Chimamanda, there are several similarities I would like to believe. The haughtiness, the superior aloofness, the judgement of us mere mortals who relax our hair. The certainty that she would find love wherever she saw herself. The multi-cultural sexual experiences. I got the feeling I was reliving a bit of her personal experience. I didnt end up liking Ifemelu but I respected her constrained rebellion.
    I see all that in Chimamanda, her need to show you she is superior and above you, her self containment, the spark in her eye when she sees you have been awed by her. So if she calls ElNathan a boy, she’s just being herself, its her point of view, it is also a fact [if he took his manhood to her workshops] :D. And in truth we can’t judge the quality of writing in her mailbox if we havent seen :D. However, if she hasnt read the Caine submissions, how can she judge? My point, Chimamanda is human and a woman. She’s not a god, or Mandela and please understand, all great writers have massive EGOS deal with it

    • Idak

      July 18, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Even Mandela has massive issues in his personal life. Look at the shambles that is being played out by clowns that pass for his family members.
      Why we are so easy to see saints in others is the part that worries me. Every man is a work in progress,no amount of PR can change that.

    • Manny

      July 19, 2013 at 3:01 am

      Ifemelu and Chimamanda would both find fault with your use of the word “woman” in the way you have done so 🙂
      She is a human and a woman. What??? Does that make her of lesser mental ability that men. Whatcha mean?

  37. mia

    July 18, 2013 at 8:39 am

    as much as i like Chinua Achebe, i had a problem with him: he never saw the good in Soyinka’s works till he died. in fact, he loathed Soyinka so much that he asked his graduate students to to do multiple critiques on Soyinka’s work. i guess that’s because he felt Soyinka was his “boy” and did not deserve the Nobel Prize as much as him. Ngozi Adichie is a writer i love so much, in fact, i have all her books and i’ve read them, but i think she’s taking the bad side of Achebe too. the beef has got to stop! referring to others in a condescending manner does not make you better. then i’ve heard stories of how cold to fans she is, the fact that her smiles does not reach her eyes and she looks at you but does not see you. i think she needs to work on her people skills.

    • Manny

      July 19, 2013 at 3:03 am

      she’s already worked on her people skills. she smiles, just that it doesn’t reach her eyes. But at least she smiles!

  38. Ani

    July 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

    For me, i don’t think Chimamanda meant it the way Elnathan took it. What if it were a man that wrote that, i don’t think he would have reacted the same way. Or didn’t you go to her workshop again? And that Abubakar thank you for showing us how you Hausa’s see women. I don’t think Chi mentioned your name. So why are you taking fansidar for Elnathan? Chi if what i’m reading about your fans is true, then you need to work on your people skills. Nobody is perfect only GOD is. Still love you Chimamanda Adichie.

  39. Ibukun

    July 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

    *smiling* after reading all these comments, all i can say is Nigerians are intellectually sound! each one dissecting and breaking down their views, and to think all of this is about literature. Good read Bella Naija, but the comments blew my mind, i’m actually teary eyed right now. love me some Nigerian intellectual swagu! p.s: Chimamanda probably needs to get off that high horse.

  40. Busola

    July 18, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I cannot see anything condescending about Chiamanda’s opinion, maybe you lot read too deep into things. I actually think she was being objective in her opinion. Going on social media to rant is very immature.. it doesn’t change anything.. There is something called self-control..Everyone should have it!

  41. Efemuaye Enajite

    July 18, 2013 at 9:33 am

    He said, she said…she meant, he meant…Who am I to try and decipher what goes on in writers’ minds? All the tweets just reek of bad blood. It would be great if some of this energy went into creating some more magnificent works for ‘gluttonic’ readers. As for the guy with ‘his shirt collar out of his suit’, seriously?
    Thank you BN for making my morning, I enjoyed this post and the comments too.

  42. hmm

    July 18, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I must be reading another article….because what i see here is complimentary especially in the statement ‘ We’re very happy that there are four. Actually, we think all the people on the short list should be Nigerians, because we are born with the natural arrogance of the Nigerians. Of course, what’s wonderful is that there’s nothing to be arrogant about. Nigerians feel very superior to Ghana, for example, but then you go to Accra, and Accra actually works [laughs].’….one of my boys could also mean ‘one of my guys’ or ‘one of my homies’ ….withstanding i can also see how people might take it the wrong way when she said about her email storing works of good writers, i think there have been bad blood between the guys and her if not it should have been handled better………..anyways to each their own, not a fan of any …but i find it weird how people are now all of a sudden saying her work sucked…..smh

    • hmm

      July 18, 2013 at 9:39 am

      sorry please excuse my typos

    • Manny

      July 19, 2013 at 3:05 am

      complimentary? my dear, there is such a thing as sarcasm

  43. Nomy1

    July 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

    All of you criticizing Adichie, if you ever heard El Nathan tear up a work of art, uou go know say Adichie na Angel. El Nathan is an arrogant, mean critic and I don’t thimk Adichie meant any disrespect, if the roles were reversed, then I would swear Elnathan meant harm!, make una dey near am first before una talk!

  44. Ready

    July 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I just want to express my delight at the fact that this post has over 60 comments!
    Moving right along, I think Chimamanda has a way of alienating people, and her tone and words in this interview were very dismissive…but it did not warrant Elnathan and especially Abubakar Ibrahim’s reactions. Bunch of big ass babies. That’s what Diddy would refer to as bitchassness.

  45. Marylyn

    July 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    @Manny: Elnathan my boy is that you?

    • Ada Nnewi

      July 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm


    • Manny

      July 19, 2013 at 3:10 am

      my dear, I am a woman whose bra size is 36D. But thanks for the compliment. I think I can successfully pull off a “Robert Galbraith”. Here I was thinking this post was nectar for intellectual bees. But alas, along came a mosquito 😉

  46. kookaburra

    July 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Let me digress a bit and say all of these comments make sense, plus the ones claiming Chimamanda didn’t mean any harm to the ones that claim she’s being arrogant-everyone seems to make sense. It’s good to know how passionate we are about our opinions.
    To the issue at hand I personally have my opinion about Chimamanda haven met her-twice, but to say her books are boring and sucks is very lame, she’s a good writer and her works have consistently shown that.
    I’ll rather not break down my interpretation of her interview but I’ll say she was as right as she was wrong. I definitely love her assertiveness in expressing her opinions even though I don’t agree with all of them.
    To the El nathan guy,my view is all the ruckus is unnecessary, you can never measure your excellence by someone else’s opinion, even if you’ve idolized them. Afterall you know better than anybody the depth of what you carry.

  47. ILoveGenevieve

    July 18, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Lost my respect for Chimamanda when she graced international tv and PROUDLY (all pun intended) said no actress in nollywood or Nigeria “can do” the job Thandie whatever did in her book adaptation. She spat on Genevieve, Rita and every talent in nollywood who’ve worked in ruthless conditions and made a name for themselves ….quietly. Things like that aren’t what I take likely. Abuse a Nigerian if you would in Nigeria ….don’t take it to the doorstep of those waiting to dice us into bits for being third world and never able expect they offer helping hands. Simply because writing isn’t as collaborative as film making whereby an actor needs a proper medium to express themselves doesn’t mean she is on a higher ground than they are. I perceive she might feel she is. I perceive she feels bigger than the Caine Prize. I perceive she is more ….but would rather hand the slurs in my fingers to the bitches in hell. She is a good writer. No contest. However, one thing she isn’t ….tactful and diplomatic.

  48. NNENNE

    July 19, 2013 at 3:05 am

    @ ILoveGenevieve…And you think El nathan is diplomatic and tactful? If he is, no amount of provocation will make him do these tweets.
    I congratulate him for his work but his male ego is too much .I pity his girl friend/wife.
    “From their fruits, you will know them”

    • ILoveGenevieve

      July 19, 2013 at 11:42 am

      I actually didn’t mention the male egoist’s name. And still won’t ….cause I really DO care about him & his tweets. What I did was use this opportunity to highlight the glory Chimamanda stripped from a group of people who don’t belong to her industry.

  49. awoko

    July 19, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    probably a slip of the tongue or unfortunately a freudian slip,it was impolite she called males beyond 21 ‘my boys’.i could only imagine the fury of feminists if conversely a male writer had included her amongst his girls.

  50. Ifeanyi

    July 24, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Chimamamnda appears to be very opinionated. I really enjoyed her talk on ‘The danger of a Single Story’ but listening to the ‘feminism’ talk…I was disappointed. Now, i wasn’t disappointed because I was a man…of course, she was right…we should all be feminist…I was disappointed because you could sense pride in the whole speech! like stardom gives her more privilege to be idolized…I told my friend, i wouldn’t be surprised if she cooks 75% of the time, feeding her husband…lol

    Purple Hibiscus in my opinion was a flop! there was no hook…the story line was literary catch…nothing to keep you interested! Half of the yellow Sun was a Classic! I would recommend that.. With the comments i hear about Americanah, I don’t think I have long hours to spare reading a narrative book claiming to be fiction!

    She needs to apologies to all Caine Prize nominee…that was arrogant and disrespectful! If she doesn’t, what do you expect from a proud and arrogant woman???

  51. PoshB

    September 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Chimamanda was in the right place at the right time, simple as. The problem with writing is that you’re only classed as a ‘good’ when a publisher picks you up, no matter how ordinary your book is, its out there and suddenly you think you’re the ONE when it comes to writing.
    I have read half of a yellow sun and I must say I found it to be completely and utterly unimpressive. It was like something a child would write.
    You can’t teach someone to write, it’s a natural thing; so her knowing him means nothing whatsoever. Unless she wants to claim she wrote his story?
    Calling him her boy is just a subtle way of stealing his thunder. That’s fear talking I’d say, lol.
    Let more Nigerian writers come on the podium so that we can have a proper literary challenge with proper tales, lets seperate the wheat from the chaff!

  52. PoshB

    September 23, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Or was it Purple Hibiscus I read… I forget, but y’all catch my drift

  53. Oma

    November 13, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    I absolutely cannot believe i’m just hearing about this now. Was i abducted by aliens and my memory modified?

  54. Mo'

    December 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Guess am stale on this discuss, but I’m struggling to see how Elnathan’s tweets are condescending as y’all claim. Read them and I read d blog post, and I think its only natural that after being insulted like that by the cocoa yam he reverently chewed, he spat it out! I don’t see what’s wrong there. Same thing I do when I bite myself while chewing gum. I spit it out!
    I definitely have no love for Mr. Abubakar who stooped to vulgarity.

  55. Leo

    September 15, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Condescending…? I do hv a lot of respect for CNA, bt dn 4rm wat ah heard, she doesn’t sound so interesting. Bt ah tink feminism waz smhw related po Elnathan’s tweet, jes tink he wouldn’t react dat way if it were a man dat made the statement. As 4 poshB, luv dat statement, am a young writer, cumin on board. Jes lack of visions nd funds… no fia, on ma way!

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