By Abdulfawaz Oyebamiji Tunde, Nigeria
As I sit behind my desk as Chief Editor at the World Peace Institute, a pen in one hand and ‘Half of a yellow sun’ in the other, my mind drifted off to the moment I actually got acquainted with the works of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
While in high school -especially in my junior years- Literature was a compulsory course for every student. There were series and different genres of literature books assigned to us back then. These books ranged from poetries, prose and even plays. I was lucky enough to have ‘Purple Hibiscus’ as the prose assigned to me at the time. It was a breathtaking and an attention captivating book that centered on Kambili, a fifteen-year-old girl whose family was in disarray as her father, despite being a staunch Catholic and a philanthropist, was not only an abusive father to her and her brother but also an abusive husband to her mother, his wife. The story took a different turn when Kambili’s father was reported dead and her mother admitted to poisoning him to her children. The story drifted to an end with Kambili’s brother, Jaja, voluntarily taking the blame as the killer when the police came to investigate.
Chimamanda’s choice of words and her literary prowess had me head-over-heels in love with her work. My fascination got me looking out for more of her books and purchasing the ones I could lay my hands on. It was by doing this that I got to read other fictional books written by her like ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ which basically focused on a Family of the Igbo lineage during the Nigerian Civil War of the ’60s, ‘Americana’ and many others.
In my insatiable quest for more of her books, I couldn’t stop myself from stumbling on a nonfiction masterpiece of hers which was titled, ‘We should all be Feminists’.
In this new essay, Chimamanda succeeded again in having me hooked till the end of it all. It was a thought-provoking book which draws the reader’s attention to what feminism entails and why it is only for the greater good of all if everybody, irrespective of their genders, come together to give the girl child and the female gender as a whole the rights they deserve as human beings.
I had come across Feminism a thousand times but I have to admit, I barely knew its actual cause or what it was all really about until I read this book. Feminism has always been a topic that generates an argument from where I come from, as there have been a lot of misconception on its actual definition and essence. This book left me provoked enough to do my own little delving on what Feminism entails.
My extemporaneous and brief research led me to realize that many people, especially females across the world, are getting deprived of their rights as humans largely due to cultural norms; which portrays the female gender as the weaker gender, both physically and intellectually. religious beliefs and the inbred patriarchal sovereignty reintegrated into the minds of the members of the society.
I proceeded with my research on Chimamanda and it was here I learned her biography. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award-winning Nigerian Novelist born on 15th of September, 1977 in the City of Enugu, Nigeria. despite being a renowned writer and one of the few feminists from the part of the world where I happened to come from, Chimamanda always makes sure to always lend a voice when and where she could on the issue of gender equality at the expense of being criticized by many -her fans included- but that barely fazed or discouraged her from achieving her goal of creating awareness on gender equality as a topic and as a goal to be reached.
In an interview in 2014, Adichie was quoted to have said “I think of myself as a storyteller but I would not mind at all if someone were to think of me as a feminist writer… I’m very feminist in the way I look at the world, and that worldview must somehow be part of my work.”
I spent days ruminating on this thought-irking quote of hers as the topic of gender inequality such as deprivation of the girl child western education, derogatory and demeaning cultural practices practiced and enforced on the female gender, and many others that even I have witnessed.
For example, some certain regions of Northern Nigeria are particularly known for their beliefs in early marriage; I mean, some few weeks back, the media was set on fire when the picture of a twelve-year-old girl surfaced on a day that was supposed to be her wedding day to a 72-year-old man. It was gathered that she must have been given off to her grandfather’s friend, probably as a gift of some sort. Also, the Eastern part of the country predominates with some strange and inhumane mourning customs for the Widow of a dead man such traditions include; thorough head shaving, wearing rags through the days of mourning (which is usually 40 days), waiting for her in-laws to determine what she should eat, do or even say with the most disturbing one of them, being drinking the water that had been used to bath the husband’s corpse. I could as well mention the West and Southern part’s belief in female genital mutilation preventing promiscuity.
All these and more served as a rude awakening for me and pushed to actually do my best to make an impact and be a voice for the voiceless because now, I do not only think we should all be humanists, I think we should all be feminists! Or don’t you think so too?