Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will continue to 'say what she thinks'

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will continue to 'say what she thinks'

Award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who was cancelled for saying ‘transwomen are transwomen’ insists she will continue to ‘say what she thinks’ and is happy to ‘accept the consequences’

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recalled being ‘cancelled’ over trans comments
  • She said some movements intended to do good are now ‘authoritarian’
  • Acclaimed author said ‘transwomen are transwomen’ in an interview in 2017 

Award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said she will continue to speak her mind regardless of the consequences after she faced online backlash for saying ‘transwomen are transwomen’ in a 2017 interview.

The Half of a Yellow Sun author, who has won several awards for her works, recalled coming under fire last year for the comments made in a Channel 4 interview four years earlier.

The author, 45, who supports transwomen and has campaigned for LGBT rights in Nigeria, was criticised by fellow Nigerian author Akwaeke Emezi, who is non-binary, who labelled her ‘transphobic’. 

Speaking to The Times 2 Magazine, she said: ‘I will say what I think and often there are consequences, and I’m willing to accept those consequences.’ 

Award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 45, (speaking at the UN General Assembly) has said she believes many ‘well-intentioned’ movements are at risk of being ‘authoritarian’

The author, who is a mother, is campaigning to find better treatments and preventative measures for malaria, which she thinks she has had around 100 times (pictured at Paris Fashion Week in 2020)

She added she believed ‘the nature of certain social media platforms’ had provided an environment in which people have become more angry.

In an essay penned last year in response to the backlash, entitled ‘It is Obscene’, the author, 45, accused the angry mob of being ‘terrified of having the wrong opinions’ after she received criticism from people in both the UK and the US. 

Writing on her website, she said: ‘There are many social-media-savvy people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness but are unable to actually show kindness.

‘People whose social media lives are case studies in emotional aridity. People for whom friendship, and its expectations of loyalty and compassion and support, no longer matter. 

‘People who claim to love literature — the messy stories of our humanity — but are also monomaniacally obsessed with whatever is the prevailing ideological orthodoxy.

‘People who wield the words ‘violence’ and ‘weaponize’ like tarnished pitchforks. And so we have a generation of young people on social media so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow.’

The acclaimed author told The BBC last year that she wrote ‘It is Obscene’ after an angry mob targeted her late parents while abusing her for saying ‘transwomen are transwomen’

Last December, Chimamanda told the BBC she felt compelled to write the essay after people online targeted her parents, who both died within a year of each other.

She said: ‘I think the one thing that really tipped me over, and in some ways to write this essay, was having my nephew call me and tell me there were people on social media who saying that my parents had died and it was good for me and it was punishment because I had refused to say that trans women are women.’

Her father, James Nwoye Adichie, died from complications of kidney failure in the summer of 2020, while her mother Grace Ifeoma Adichie also died unexpectedly in March 2021. 

While she admitted she doesn’t think of herself as ‘brave’ for speaking up about issues that are important to her, she told The Times she will continue to speak out about issues that are important to her.

She argued there are lots of women who are afraid to speak their minds for fear of a backlash, especially if their opinion goes against the grain.

Speaking shortly after fellow author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck while addressing an audience at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, Chimamanda insisted writers do not set out to provoke people, and expressed her concern for his condition.

During the interview, Chimamanda discussed her work with the Malaria No More charity, for which she has been campaigning since 2018. She is also an ambassador for Zero Malaria. 

The mother-of-one said she aims to ensure her daughter’s generation will be the first to not have to experience the illness as a common part of their lives.

When asked how many times she herself had come down with malaria, Chimamanda said: ‘Oh, I haven’t thought about that. Maybe a hundred times?’

She added it would have been more if she hadn’t left Nigeria to study at university in the US – and even then, she caught malaria on every visit back home.

Telling of how common the illness, which originates from mosquitoes, can be, the novelist said two people she knows in the country’s capital, Lagos, have come down with malaria in the last week.

She pointed out that, while malaria can be fatal to many who contract it, it also has serious consequences for those who survive – with weeks of missed school days meaning the education of children is affected.

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