Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is featured in Vogue UK’s April edition and discussed everything from being a celebrity to Selma’s Oscar snub. The author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun, who currently resides in Columbia, MD with her husband, sat down with journalist Erica Wager and proved that she’s an open book.
Adichie, whose TED talk about feminism was featured on Beyoncé’s “Flawless,” says she thinks Beyoncé is a force for good.
“I am a person who writes and tells stories. That’s what I want to talk about. There’s an obsession with celebrity that I have never had. But the one thing I will say is that I really do think Beyoncé is a force for good, as much as celebrity things go. I know there has been lot of talk in the past year about how feminism is ‘cool’ now, but I think if we are honest, it’s not a subject that’s easy. She didn’t have to do this, she could have taken on, I don’t know, world peace. Or nothing at all. And I realize that so many young people in our celebrity-obsessed world, well, suddenly they are thinking about this. And that’s a wonderful thing.”
On the subject of Selma, the Nigerian writer says she was furious when she found out it was snubbed, and it speaks to the larger issue of race in the U.S., especially after the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson.
“I took that very personally. It’s almost a slap in the face for a person who wants to believe in some kind of progress; 2014 was such a difficult year for America and race…
…Even when I’m not in the US, I follow what’s going on, I’m very emotionally invested. And I find myself thinking that maybe I’ll write an essay about it: looking at the idea that there’s something similar in the way that American society looks at black men who commit crime and women of any colour who report a rape. And I think the similarity is that you are expected to be perfect and pure before you can get any sympathy, any human empathy. ‘Well, the kid stole cigarettes, so he asked for it, right?’”
When it comes to feminism, Adichie is sure to put a person in their place, when they attempt to put her in hers:
“The oppression of women, she says, “Makes me angry. I can not be angry. I don’t know how you can just be calm. My family says to me, ‘Oh, you’re such a man!’ – you know, very lovingly… But of course I’m not, I just don’t see why I shouldn’t speak my mind.” She got into trouble for speaking her mind in Nigeria: when an interviewer addressed her as Mrs Chimamanda Adichie, she corrected him, saying she wished to be known as “Ms”, which the journalist reported as “Miss.” Her insistence on her own family name was all over the news here last spring. She should be happy to be addressed as “Mrs”, she was told, since she was, after all, married. She laughs now, but it’s clear the story still disturbs her. “It was the lack of gratitude on my part for having a husband. And yet I didn’t want to proclaim it: I wanted to claim my own name.”
Image credit: Akintunde Akinleye