Reporter to Adichie — 'Are there bookshops in Nigeria?'
When Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was supposed to be answering questions pertaining to feminism and the #MeToo movement, the world gravitated towards her interviewer’s “retrograde” questions.
On January 25 at “La Nuit des Idees” (The Night of Ideas) in Paris, French journalist Caroline Broue asked the author of several award-winning books, including Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus and Americanah, whether her books were read in her home country of Nigeria, and if there were bookshops.
“I think it reflects very poorly on French people that you have to ask me that question … You’ll be shocked to know that they are, yes ... They are read and studied, not just in Nigeria but across the continent of Africa,” Adichie responded.
Libraries in Nigeria: universities alone account for over140, public; about 316,&several private ones built for public use. While borrowing books is easy in schl libraries, It’s difficult to achieve same in the public ones.Hence that affects how we get our books&use the pub. Lib.
— ADEKANMBI JAMIU (@hadekneeyi) January 26, 2018
The author was then asked to speak about her country, as Broue admitted that the French know very little about Nigeria, “certainly not enough”, and when the French do speak about Nigeria “it’s about Boko Haram and the problems of violence and security”.
“I do not expect a French person to know almost everything about Nigeria. I don’t know almost everything about France. But 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,” Adichie responded
Yea we have libraries in Nigeria. Our sitting room, our balconies, our Lecture theaters, our church libraries. Yes we have libraries but mostly importantly we read. We read large and wide. Dont miss the point here. We are readers and thinkers.
— Lious (@_Fraulious) January 27, 2018
Adichie said that she was taken aback when her “Intelligent, thoughtful and well prepared” interviewer asked a question that was “far below the intellectual register of her previous questions.”
“I know now that she was trying to be ironic ... it was a genuine, if flat, attempt at irony and I wish she would not be publicly pilloried,” Adichie said.