#WomanCrushEveryday: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Born in Nigeria in 1977, her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, published at the age of 26, received wide critical acclaim. It was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Other successes followed. Her second novel, Author of Half of a Yellow Sun, set during the Nigerian Civil War, was adapted in to a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton. Her third novel, Americanah, reflected on her experiences as an African woman living in the US. In 2003, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University, as well as a Fellowship in 2008 from Princeton University. A great storyteller, her novels feature powerful and complex female voices, often drawing on anecdotes from her own life.
In 2009, her TED talk, "The Danger of a Single Story", discussed her concerns about the underrepresentation of many cultures in literature. She argued that stories matter, holding the power to empower and restore dignity to large chunks of people. The talk was a hit, garnering over 12 million views. Her 2013 talk, "We Should All Be Feminists", drew extensively on her own experiences and understandings of gender construction and sexuality. It went down a storm. Beyoncé went on to sample the talk for her 2014 track Flawless, describing her as "elegant", with words that were "powerful and honest". Such was the success that followed that an essay based on the speech was published in book-form. A year later, it was made essential reading and subsequently distributed to every 16-year old Swedish high schooler.
Adichie describes her hope that the word "feminism" will become used often enough, to the point where any stigma is lost, and it is simply an "inclusive, diverse thing". She argues that the end goal of feminism is for it to be no longer needed. However, she reflects on the idea of feminism as a "party" to which only a select few are invited, arguing that it is the reason why many women, particularly woman of colour, feel "alienated" by the movement. In this way, Adichie is the feminist voice that many of us need; a wonderful storyteller, bold enough to speak her mind, and willing to speak up to ensure that her experiences, and the experiences of so many others just like her, are placed at the forefront, and not left behind. In her own words, a feminist is anyone who says, "Yes, there's a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better."