Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the greatest literary gifts Nigeria has given the world since its forced existence in 1914. We are grateful.
Even though I am not exactly her Stan, I have a huge respect for her creations and her crusade for gender equality. Yes, I prefer that word to “feminism” just as you are not likely going to catch me using a phrase like “black lives matter” even though I am, of course, a black man.
Adichie says a lot of things. Many things. A large percentage of those things are easy to agree with. A small percentage – harder to agree with at first glance. Still, you cannot but agree that the writer has made some sense. However, there is a relatively small percentage of the stuff she says that would warrant a knock on the head or a “what is this one smoking?” snort.
Her female politician thief comment during her Honourary Degree acceptance speech at the University of Edinburgh is one of those smaller ones. While receiving the degree, Adichie – of course – spoke about feminism and she made an example of how a female politician who stole a lot of money in Nigeria was severely pilloried because of her gender. That, somehow, because the world tends to see women as being “just one step lower than angels”, this politician would have been better of being a man so she wouldn’t be judged so harshly.
What she chose to ignore, or didn’t see due to the amount of smoke generated by what she was smoking is that this woman (Dieziani, we assume) stole as much money as can put a country in a standstill. The criticism she has been pelted with since the news of her astonishing greed broke is because of the size of her loot. Not because we think, as a woman, she should be holier than men. Everything need not be genderized. If it is true, according to Ibrahim Magu – the EFCC boss – that the N47.2 billion so far recovered from the former petroleum minister represents just about 15% of what she took from her country, that will be more than arguably Nigeria’s most corrupt soul ever – Sani Abacha – and Chimamanda needs to rid her mouth of the smog in it.
I mean, N47.2 billion is already some crazy shit right there! And there, the woman who has charged herself with teaching young people about gender equality is saying the alleged thief is being criticised that much because of her gender.
Now, let’s even say – assume – that the journalist she referred to in her talk made the “she’s a woman” comment out of surprise at the alleged thief’s gender, whether we like it or not, history plays a huge part in teaching us many of the things we run with today: the principles, the beliefs, the lessons and so on. And history has told us that over time, those who have perpetrated the biggest crimes have been men. Those who have approved genocides, those who have led mass killings, religious wars and ethnic cleansing, those who have carried out the biggest heists, the assassins and so on have been, in the overwhelming majority, men. So, why, if not that Chimamanda Adichie is one to look for excuses to chide the society for “masculinity”, did she think it was the fault of the society – especially the African part of it – that women may be seen as having a “larger” heart or a motherly-love approach to the world than men?
This comment, alongside her take on Biafra as illustrated in Half of a Yellow Sun is up there with that infamous transgender comment (she even said in that interview that the world labels people like her as feminists! NO!!! YOU and many of YOUR minions label YOURSELVES as FEMINISTS).
You can watch the Edinburgh video here.