Chimamanda Adichie and Her Interview With The French Journalist

Early this week, Chimamanda Adichie was in the news again. During an interview in Paris’  Night of Ideas, journalist Caroline Broué asked the prolific, feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a series of discomfiting questions.

First, the journalist wanted to know if Nigerians read Ms. Adichie’s books. Chimamnda answered in affirmative. She also explained that her novels were recommended in secondary schools.

If you thought the writer stopped there, you’re in for a surprise. The French journalist, went on to ask if there were ‘libraries’ in Nigeria.

Here’s a quote from the journalist, “You were talking about single stories, now when you talk about Nigeria in France, unfortunately, there is not much said about Nigeria, but when people talk about Nigeria it’s about Boko Haram, it’s about violence, it’s about security. Now I should like you to tell us something about Nigeria which is different, talk about it differently. That’s why I’m saying “are there bookshops,” of course I imagine there are…”

At this point, the award-winning author of Half Of A Yellow Sun gasped and smiled. Then she released her epic clap back, “I think it reflects very poorly on French people that you have to ask me that question… My books are read in Nigeria. They are studied in schools. Not just Nigeria, across the continent in Africa.“

The audience at the venue responded with a loud round of applause. Fans worldwide have praised Chimamanda Adichie for her witty reply. Most people have explained that the journalist could have done some research rather than ask the author these embarrassing questions.

Ironically, Ms. Adichie spent quite sometime defending the French journalist on her Facebook page. The author sympathised with the journalist. In fact, she considered the interviewer to be “Intelligent, thoughtful and well prepared” for the wide-ranging discussions they had at the Quai d’Orsay in Paris.

Perhaps, added Ms, Adichie, the journalist’s use of ‘librairie’ was wrongly translated as ‘library’ which also loosely translates to ‘bookshop.’
Interesting perspective, isn’t it?

In fact, Chimamanda wrote that the journalist only made “a genuine, if flat, attempt at irony and I wish {the journalist} would not be publicly pilloried.”

For those who felt Chimamanda Adichie over-reacted, perhaps her in depth explanation will throw more light on the issue. Here’s the explanation she gave her Facebook fans.

“To be asked to ‘tell French people that you have bookshops in Nigeria because they don’t know’ is to cater to a wilfully retrograde idea – that Africa is so apart, so pathologically ‘different,’ that a non-African cannot make reasonable assumptions about life there.”

Hmmm, real food for thought.

But a wise, traveled American-based Nigerian, upon hearing this, said, “There are libraries, and there are libraries.” And there, did he rest his case.

Where do you rest yours? What do you think?

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