Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Don't Call Me Mrs, Nobody Can Force Me To Change My Surname' - Chimamanda Adichie Warns


Renowned writer, Chimamanda Adichie, although married to her US based Doctor husband, Dr. Ivara Esegee in a recent interview insists she wants to be addressed as Miss and not Mrs.
Chimamanda Adichie and her husband, Dr. Ivara Esegee
Mrs Chimamanda Adichie, welcome back to Nigeria…
Before we start, please, I just want to say that my name is Chimamanda Adichie. That’s how I want it; that’s how I’m ad-dressed, and it is not Mrs but Miss.  Ms: that’s how I want it. I am saying this, because I just got a mail from my manager this morning. It seems that there are people who attended the church service, and they wrote about it, addressing me as Mrs. Chimamanda (Esega). I didn’t like that at all. So my name is Chimamanda Adichie, full stop.
You mean?
This is because it is also responsible that people be called what they want to be called.
You started by telling me that you’re not “Mrs.”
(cuts in) My name is Chimamada Adichie. If you want to put label for me, put Ms.
But people know that you’re married. As an Igbo girl, you know our culture
(Cuts in again) What does our culture do? Let me tell you about our culture. This thing that you are calling our culture –that when you marry somebody, you’ll start calling her Mrs. Somebody –is not our culture; it is Western culture. If you want to talk about our culture, you need to go to people in real Igbo land. But it is true. My grandfather’s name is David. His name is also Nwoye. They call him Nwoye Omeni. Omeni was his mother. You know why? It is to help distinguish him, because there are often many wives. So, it was his mother that they used to identify him. They know that all of these people came from the same compound, but whose child is this one. You may go and ask people who is Nwoye Omeni, and they’ll tell you it is my grandfather. So, conversation about culture is a long one. I don’t even want to have it.
But, at what point would you change your name?
Yes; because it’s all fused. You cannot then come and impose something on somebody. Nobody should come and impose something on somebody, because, if you come and tell me it is our culture, I’ll tell you it is not our culture. Where do you want to start counting? Do you want to start counting in 1920, or do you want us to start counting from 1870?
But culture is dynamic
Exactly my point, which is why this is new. If culture is dynamic, you cannot use it as conservative tool. We can-not then say it has to be this because it is our culture.  My point is that it is a new thing. Things are changing. We live in a world now where women have a right to bear the name they want. So, we cannot say this is how we do it. If some women want to do it that way, that’s fine! God bless them. Some women won’t do it. I am one of those women, and nobody will come to use culture to tell me that I should do what I don’t want to do.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of three award-winning novels, Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013), and a short story collection, The Thing around Your Neck (2009).She has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction (2007) and a MacArthur Decisions, and a play, For Love of Biafra, a year later. Adichie’ short story “You in America”; and in 2003, her story “That Harmattan Morning” was selected as joint winner of the BBC Short Story Awards, and she won the O. Henry Prize for “The American Embassy”.
She also won the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award), for “Half of a Yellow Sun”.Purple Hibiscus (2003), was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005); while her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her third book, The Thing around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of short stories. Last year, her third novel, Americanah, was selected by the New York Times as one of The 10 Best Books of 2013.

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