We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Date Read: January 12th 2015

Published: July 2014

Publisher: Vintage Books

Pages: 23

Adichie Feminist

The Blurb

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.


Review– ★★★★ (4 stars)

Most of us know We Should All Be Feminists was first presented by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as a TED talk given in the United Kingdom at TEDxEuston in 2012. This talk became quite popular on YouTube, along with her first talk The Danger of a Single Story which she delivered in 2009. The essay We Should All Be Feminists became available to the public for purchase as an eBook in 2014 and I recently got a chance to purchase the eBook using my NookBook app.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a way of eloquently articulating complex issues by skillfully using simple words, and this is why I love her! Her essay/talk, We Should All Be Feminists is basically about her views on gender and how limited of a function society has made it. The term ‘feminist’ has had a bad rap for years, but Adichie proudly calls herself a feminist or better yet: A Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men and Who Likes to Wear Lip Gloss and High Heels for Herself and Not For Men”. In her essay, she compares how society has shaped the way girls and boys are raised and how problematic these ways can be. For example, she states that girls are taught to be likeable and not aggressive, while boys are taught to be strong, seldom showing emotion and fear.

The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Adichie believes we’d be happier and true to our identity if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations on our shoulders. Men shouldn’t have to feign strength and (hyper) masculinity by always paying the bill for women or by stifling their emotions. Women shouldn’t feel invisible in the presence of men. Women shouldn’t feel shame or guilt whenever they desire to express anger or to simply state their noble opinions.

Adichie gives several examples of personal experiences and of other people she knows to further explain and prove her points on the problems of gender. I do not consider myself a ‘feminist’ and I don’t remember the last time I experienced prejudice because I am a girl, but I agree 100% with every single thing Adichie discusses in this essay. I think it will just take a long time for society to actually shift and become more flexible with the concept of gender and gender roles, but we will get there – one day.

My favorite quotes from We Should All Be Feminists:

 “Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice” pg. 12

“We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys…. We teach boys to be afraid to fear, of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak – a hard man.” pg. 14

“A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me. I was not worried at all- it had not occurred to me to be worried, because a man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.” pg. 14  [Girl, me too!]

“Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general- but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender.” pg. 18

“I was once talking about gender and a man said to me, ‘Why does it have to be you as a woman? Why not you as a human being?’ This type of question is a way of silencing a person’s specific experiences. Of course I am a human being, but there are particular things that happen to me in the world because I am a woman.” pg. 19

“Some people will say, Oh, but women have the real power: bottom power. (This is a Nigerian expression for a woman who uses her sexuality to get things from men.) But bottom power is not power at all, because the woman with bottom power is actually not powerful; she just has a good route to tap another person’s power.” pg. 20

This essay/talk is wonderful and I will surely read/listen to it again!

Watch the talk from the TEDxEuston event via YouTube below:

★★★★ (4 stars) – Great essay. Highly recommend!

Purchase We Should All Be Feminists (paperback) on Amazon

Happy New Year, everyone! I’m participating in the Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge. Expect more reviews soon 🙂

The Africa39 Anthology!

The Africa 39 project is an anthology of stories/extracts from the most promising 39 authors under the age of 40 from Sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora. Africa 39 will finally be launched TOMORROW, October 12th 2014 at a festival in UNESCO’s World Book Capital in Port Harcourt, Nigeria!

The selected authors of the Africa39 anthology are believed to have the potential and the talent to define the trends that will mark the future development of literature in a certain language or region.

Some of these authors are: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), Okwiri Oduor (Kenya), Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (Ghana/USA), Igoni Barrett (Nigeria), Sifiso Mzobe (South Africa), Dinaw Mengestu (Ethiopia), Hawa Jande Golakai (Liberia), Monica Arac de Nyeko (Uganda), Recaredo Silebo Boturu (Equitorial Guinea), Edwige- Renée Dro (Cote d’Ivoire), Stanley Onjezani Kenani (Malawi), Zukiswa Wanner (Zambia/South Africa/Zimbabwe) among others!


I pre-ordered the book on Amazon so I should receive my copy pretty soon. I really hope the book will be available in Ghana- hopefully at the EPP book shop in East Legon, Accra. EPP actually has lots of new African Literature books in stock, so maybe Africa39 will arrive here soon!

I’m excited to read stories from authors of different sub-Saharan African countries that aren’t very popular in the African Literature scene- like Liberia, Malawi, Zambia, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea among others! 🙂

For more information on Africa39, read – here.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Date Read: April 2nd 2014

Published: June 1st 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Pages: 240


 The Blurb

In “A Private Experience,” a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she’s been pushing away. In “Tomorrow is Too Far,” a woman unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother’s death. The young mother at the center of “Imitation” finds her comfortable life in Philadelphia threatened when she learns that her husband has moved his mistress into their Lagos home. And the title story depicts the choking loneliness of a Nigerian girl who moves to an America that turns out to be nothing like the country she expected; though falling in love brings her desires nearly within reach, a death in her homeland forces her to reexamine them.

Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. The Thing Around Your Neck is a resounding confirmation of the prodigious literary powers of one of our most essential writers.


Review – ★★★★ (4 stars)

The Thing Around Your Neck is a pretty good collection of twelve short stories and a fast read. Adichie manifests her effortless artistry with words and I enjoyed the stories- hence my rating of 4 stars. Since most of my life experiences are American and Ghanaian, I could relate to a good number of the stories, as they are set in the US and Nigeria (Ghana’s anglophone West African brother nation).

But I was dissatisfied at how most of the stories had weak conclusions. I’ve read other short story collections and enjoyed them more, such as Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta. Despite my slight disappointment, my favorite stories were:

“A Private Experience” – a touching tale of two young women from different religious backgrounds who take temporary refuge in an empty shop during a riot in Kano, Nigeria.

“The Shivering” – a modern story set on the Princeton University campus where two African students form a strong friendship, despite their different beliefs and sexualities.

“The American Embassy” – a disheartening tale of a woman trying to seek asylum in America after witnessing the murder of her baby son by armed robbers.

The rest of the stories were good, but again, their conclusions were not that great to me. Also, because I read Americanah before this book (in October 2013), I found some of the characters from both novels a bit similar.

My favorite quotes from The Thing Around Your Neck:

 “It is one of the things she has come to love about America, the abundance of unreasonable hope.” pg. 26

 She dated married men before Obiora- what single girl in Lagos hadn’t?” pg. 31

 “I remember now that I once saw you on the shuttle. I knew you were African but I thought you might be from Ghana. You looked too gentle to be Nigerian.” pg. 151 (Hahaa!)

“I was happy when I saw your picture…you were light-skinned. I had to think about my children’s looks. Light-skinned blacks fare better in America.” pg. 185

 I could discuss these quotes till Thy kingdom come. There’s so much to analyze from them to keep a conversation going for a while!

★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!

Purchase The Thing Around Your Neck on Amazon