Saturday, February 16, 2019

Adichie takes swipe at the French — over question on whether Nigeria has bookshops

Adichie takes swipe at the French — over question on whether Nigeria has bookshops
January 27
15:50 2018

Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian writer, was being interviewed on a live show in Paris when she was asked if Nigeria has bookshops — and her reply was epic.

The interview took place Friday night during the launch of the ‘The Night of Ideas’.

Broué had been asking Adichie questions about her career, particularly her books.

“Are your books read in Nigeria?” the journalist had asked, and Adichie replied, “yes”.

She further asked: “Are there bookshops in Nigeria?” and with Adichie evidently stunned, she added, “I ask because French people don’t know. They know only about Boko Haram”.

The Nigerian writer replied: “Well, I think it reflects poorly on French people that you asked that question. I think surely… I mean, it’s 2018.”

Her response generated an applause from the audience and also triggered reactions and debate on the social media.

Adichie later took to Facebook to further elaborate on the incident.

She wrote in part: “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.”

Taking a swipe at the journalist, she said since her books are read in Nigeria, it is “reasonable” to expect there is at least one bookshop in the country.

She said even though Broué had sounded “intelligent, thoughtful and well-prepared,…I was taken aback because it (the question) was far below the intellectual register of her previous questions”.

Adichie wrote: “I am a Nigerian writer whose early education was in Nigeria. It is reasonable to expect that Nigeria has at least one bookshop, since my books are read there.

“Had the question been ‘is it difficult to get access to books?’ Or ‘are books affordable?’ It would have been different, worth engaging with, fair.

“Bookshops are in decline all over the world. And that is worth discussing and mourning and hopefully changing.

“But the question ‘are there bookshops in Nigeria’ was not about that. It was about giving legitimacy to a deliberate, entitled, tiresome, sweeping, base ignorance about Africa. And I do not have the patience for that.

“Perhaps French people cannot indeed conceive of Nigeria as a place that might have bookshops. And this, in 2018, in our age of interconnectedness and the internet, is a shame.”


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