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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “We Tell Women They’re Less Important in Relationships” on Beyoncé & Feminism

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Independent

There’s just something about a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie interview that just draws you in.

Be it a printed interview or on our TV screen, she always comes-off as someone older than her years, with a wealth of experience to share – one letter at a time, one word at a time.

The Nigerian author who was recently called one of Africa’s Greatest Innovators in Arts and Sciences – read it here, had an exclusive sit down with OK! Nigeria Magazine for its new issue in May 2014.

In it, she speaks on her success, education, the movie adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun, feminism, the word – “role model”, as well as what she really thinks about Beyoncé .

Read excerpts;
On the current state of education in Nigeria compared to growing up: “It’s very easy to think that your childhood was better, but it was. The education system was much better back then. I went to the university, primary and secondary school where I got a fantastic education, I don’t think it is possible now in Nigeria to get the kind of education I got in a school of that sort without paying tonnes of money and having to do the British curriculum or something. So education has gone down since then, which is a terrible shame.”

On is she expected Half of a Yellow Sun to be this well received: “No, when you write a book you never know what to expect and I wasn’t writing a cool story. I was writing about a war in Nigeria in the 1960s, there’s nothing cool or sexy about it. It was personal for me and many people said ‘What are you doing? Nobody will read it’. But I wrote it, because that’s what I wanted to write and I’m very happy that it’s done well.”

On what makes HOAYS different from other Biafran war stories: “Mine is a novel that looks at the world from different points of views such as race, class and gender. For me it’s not so much ‘how is it different?’ I’m hoping many more people will write about that period, there are many stories that haven’t been told.”

On being called the 21st Century Daughter by The Washington Post Book World: “(Laughs) I have no objections to that. I think it’s a lovely compliment. Chinua Achebe is the closest I have to a hero. He was a remarkable man.”

On if feels like an advocate for women empowerment: “I don’t really like the expression ‘female empowerment’. I like gender equality, because female empowerment can mean that we want women to have more privileges than men or be stronger. What I want is equality; a world where we don’t say to women ‘You have to do a certain thing because you’re a woman.’ I see myself as someone who believes very deeply in gender equality and I talk about it because I care about it. There are young women who have said to me, because they heard my talk they now identify as feminists and also some young men. It’s not just about women it has to also be about men.”

On if Beyoncé is a good role model for females: “I don’t like the expression ‘role model’ the role model that children really need are their parents. I don’t think it’s the place of a public figure who has her own life to be expected to do what we want her to do. I do think that it’s wonderful that Beyoncé lives life on her own terms. If she were a man I don’t think we would be questioning things like ‘Is he a role model?’.”

Chimamda & Hubby Dr  Ivara Alistair Esege

Chimamda & Hubby Dr Ivara Alistair Esege

On how her husband feels about her success: “I’m sure he’s fine with it. Nobody would ask a man ‘How does
your wife feel about your success?’ because it would be considered, of course she would be happy and supportive. We live in a world where in many ways we tell women that they’re less important in relationships and women themselves buy into that. I’m supposed to say ‘He handles it very well, he doesn’t mind’.”

On what she meant by “feminism is an idea, not a movement” (watch): “Anybody who believes in gender equality is a feminist. It’s not a party or a movement where you have to get an identity card to belong to it. There are different feminisms, some I do not agree with everything, but the whole goal is that we want a world where there is gender equality. Feminism is not just about women it’s about men. A man who believes in gender equality is a feminist. It’s believing in in the idea and working towards it.”

To read more on the interview, pick up the new issue of OK! Nigeria.

29 Comments

  1. SASSYCASSIE

    May 13, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Chi Chi dear,this Beyonce ass kissing is getting ridiculous!

    • Obere

      May 14, 2014 at 7:29 am

      Absolutely ridiculous!!

  2. @edDREAMZ

    May 13, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Mehn frm nw on am nw a feminist bcos i believe in gender equality and adichie made that possible today…..
    .
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  3. madman

    May 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Have several seats…. have several seats… **yawns**

    • Bimpe

      May 14, 2014 at 12:26 am

      omg! i was just about to write exactly what you said. she really needs to have several seats at the back of the class ooo. kmt she needs to learn to be quiet and just speak on her books and nothing more

  4. Idak

    May 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    YAWNS!!
    We need to take a break from these topics every once in a while.
    Overdose of anything is bad.

  5. Es

    May 13, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    OMG her hubby. This is the first time I’m seeing him and he’s gorgeous!

    • Ceecee

      May 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      I tink say na only me notice d guy. nna mehn.

  6. chinco

    May 13, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I love the way you reason and put your words together Chi. Thank you for bringing to the fore, what I have spoken of so often causing all my friends to call me a feminist that refuses to conform and why should I? Btw im happy you are married now and your hubby is so cute and obviously well educated (going by the prefix ‘dr’) before the haters and cavemen start saying its because of your ideas that you are single.

  7. Fatimah

    May 13, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    If she were a man I don’t think we would be questioning things like ‘Is he a role model?’
    Really?!!! because I know tons of male artistes whose eligibility as role models have been questioned just as I have read interviews where wives were asked how they coped with their husband’s success, job, fame etc. So, what is she on about?

    She comes across as a gender-biased, chauvinistic female to me and not a gender equality proponent.

    • Queen E

      May 14, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Thank you Fatimah! You have said it all!

    • jcsgrl

      May 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Thank you o my dear. I think this girl has gotten confused since she came to yankee. So in her definition feminism is about gender equality. Which gender? Feminism relates to all things female. So no equality for male. You do realize that in US for example women are considered first for custody of their children over the men. I know for a fact of two couples going through divorce in which both women are douche bags. As in the men took good care of their children more than the women. And yet court granted them custody ordering the men to be paying handsome child support to the women. Mind you these two women make good money. So where is the gender equality in that? Chi I love your books and you should just focus on that but this your feminism rants are making you look confused. FOCUS! If you want to fight for female rights, then do so but dont come and be claiming gender equality. You are only fighting on one side of the fence.

    • slice

      May 14, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      sometimes the courts discriminate against men and sometimes the men don’t help their case. the courts will usually award kids to the primary caretaker. not necessarily the better parent. if i can show that over time i’m the one who has done everything for my kids except pay for them, i get the children. not the one who is the breadwinner. women’s ability to detail things also helps. when they show up in court they have details of all the things they’ve attended, who does what (bathes, feeds, plays with the kids etc).

    • Idak

      May 15, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      May your future be blessed!
      May your fountain of wisdom never run dry!

  8. NNENNE

    May 13, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    How can I ever get tired of listening to you?

  9. Angry immigrant

    May 14, 2014 at 2:43 am

    This woman needs to shut it. Seriously!!

  10. Jo!

    May 14, 2014 at 7:26 am

    I think Chimamanda needs to take a break from the press, no interviews, no tv nothing, nada.
    It’s okay abeg, we need a break from you for a while.
    I still love her books

  11. Gene

    May 14, 2014 at 7:31 am

    If it’s a yawn fest why did you click and read? I think she is smart and you may not celebrate her but the rest of the continent does, learn to be proud of your own.

    • Idak

      May 14, 2014 at 9:54 am

      You are getting it twisted.
      No one is doubting her talent or is refusing to celebrate her literary skills.
      What we are yawning about is the fact that every time a mic is shoved in her face all she ever yaps about is the same topic of femininity. It gets a bit boring and slightly too predictable.
      All this talk of being proud of your own is quite misplaced in this context.

  12. Morolake

    May 14, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I think this Chimamanda should take a break from this her feminism talk. She strikes me like someone who is fighting a deep rooted self-esteem or self-worth issue.

    No one is questioning her smartness or intelligence but It gets a tad bit exhausting reading all her gender-biased feminism talk abeg.

    I hope her husband isn’t finding it too hard being married to her. #justsaying

    • jcsgrl

      May 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Hmnn my dear you have voiced out my thoughts. I too wonder how the husband is feeling with all this. You know men can pretend for a while until someone comes along that worships them and restores their ego and they begin to wonder what they have been doing all these while. I have an uncle who pretended with his feminist wife for 20yrs and later divorced the woman to her shock. As in she is still shocked!!! The man did it quietly no even tell anybody

    • wow

      May 14, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Your uncle divorced his wife because she believed in the equality of the sexes? I always thought you were a reasonable person from your comments but i am absolutely shocked by your comments on this post. If your uncle didn’t want to be with someone who believed in equality, why did he marry her and ‘pretend’ for 20 years. i like how you don’t see anything wrong with that. i can’t believed that in 2014, a human being is still opposing the equality of the sexes because we know very well that the world and especially Nigeria is still very much patriarchal. Even in the America that you used as an example, there are male activists groups who fight for equality for men with regards to custody/child support. According to your mentality those men should not seek equality in that area? do you think females will have been allowed an education if people did not fight the inequality? feminism means that females will be treated equally as males which means gender equality. People always put their own spin on things just like chimamanda has in regards to being asked about her husband’s opinion, but the core of the matter still remains.

    • Tade

      May 14, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      @ wow enough of the lectures no one need an overdose of feminism drug is what we are saying. There are feminist who have issues, yes probably you are one of them who are mad at men or just find it difficult to get what they want or type of men they want so to give themselves a physiological relieve they resort to feminism. You think its because of feminist the my mother went to school or dad trained my sister up to phd level spending more on her more than me. Come on get a life if you don’t have one. If you have a stone to grind with men or you feel less in yourself that’s your problem continue to hide under feminism. abeg shift commot here joor.

  13. Anna

    May 16, 2014 at 7:51 am

    I find it quiet disturbing when women who are privileged in modern times to have an education, ‘equal’ job opportunities (which is still to be questioned in many corporate environments), have the right to vote, and are even able open their mouths in public without being stoned to death criticize the efforts of Chimamanda and other people in promoting feminism.

    However she decides to brand it, whatever her (specific) views are and how she presents it is not the main issue here. Because of ‘feminists’ like her, you as a woman have all* the opportunities that would have only been accessed by men.

    The right to vote, education, and all that didn’t fall from the sky! Women spoke up, were criticized and still didn’t take the back seat! In Saudi Arabia, women are still not allowed to drive! Hopefully that will change soon. Why? Because of ‘Feminists’ speaking up for equality. And that applies to a lot of societies, including Nigeria. Millions of Girls and Women in the 21st Century do not have basic rights! Some banks wouldn’t grant a loan to a women until she brings her husband…and yet a man can come home with an extra wife without informing his wife like a new item from the supermarket and the ‘first wife’ can’t complain.

    Its very unenlightening and selfish to tell people to be silent for speaking up on issues that cause so much pain to those suffering from it. People need to put semantics aside, educate themselves; read the history of women suffrage, and other efforts that have been made by women and men and speak up for those who are being degraded everyday by the virtue of their gender.

  14. ify

    May 30, 2014 at 6:04 am

    for the records, i believe chimamanda were asked questions on FEMINISM, she didn’t just jump into that conversation. Moreover, i don’t see anything wrong in her comment about Beyonce and how parents should be role models to their children.

  15. MsBlossom

    June 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

    The comments on BN is more interesting than the story itself, I love BN commenters (if there is such word) intelligent peeps…xoxoxo. Seriously Chimamanda needs to take a chill pill from all the feminism talk, all of them should stop deceiving young ladies with these feminism talk. Be the woman you want to be , don’t let someone tell you what you should be , whereas they do other wise (Like getting married, been under a man & having kids).

  16. Toy

    February 13, 2015 at 9:05 am

    People criticizing Chimamanda did you deliberately click this link to do that? If you can read well, you would realize she was answering the questions asked. She is not forcing anyone to be anything. Shame on the women that read this thread and only have the worst things to say. Being feminist doesn’t mean you are unhappy. I feel so sorry for the lady that made a comment about her uncle leaving his wife. Your uncle didn’t leave his wife because she was feminist. Don’t put the blame on the woman. Blame the man. I also sincerely feel sorry for men that lose the custody of their kids. It’s not always that way. My colleague at work just resigned because he got the custody of his children. Thank his lawyer. Get a good lawyer. And things would be spun your way. Feminism doesn’t mean no marriage. It simply means equality. You angry peeps need a class in history.

  17. Grace Amagwula

    December 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I don even know how to start, i think most people on this thread are beyond redemption. Its too late for for them. Feminism is about the equality of the sexes but with an emphasis on advocacy for women’s right,, why? Because females are the marginalized ones and as it is today, thw genders arw not equal so we cannot start on the same plain, women are themarginalized ones. For those of you complainng about women getting custody while the man is obviously the more suitable one, that is an issue called SEXISM, which is something feminist fight. Sexism affects both men and women.

  18. JANAE LAMBETH

    August 31, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Nice piece . I am thankful for the details – Does someone know if I would be able to obtain a blank Form 1120x form to type on ?

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