Writing

Read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Feminist Manifesto on How to Raise a Child

In a 9,000-word letter to a friend, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie lays out 15 suggestions for how to raise your child a feminist.

Do yourself a favor and go check out Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Facebook page right now. The prolific Nigerian novelist and writer has a new piece for the world. The entry, a whopping 9,221 words, is a letter to a friend, Ijeawele, who has just given birth to a daughter, Chizalum Adaora. She's asked the feminist icon and recent mother for advice on how to raise her daughter a feminist.


“Please know that I take your charge – how to raise her feminist – very seriously. And I understand what you mean by not always knowing what the feminist response to situations should be,” Adichie begins me stating. “For me, feminism is always contextual. I don’t have a set-in-stone rule; the closest I have to a formula are my two ‘Feminist Tools’ and I want to share them with you as a starting point.”

The first of Adichie’s ‘Feminist Tools’ is one’s premise.

“The solid unbending belief that you start off with. What is your premise? Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only.’ Not ‘as long as.’ I matter equally. Full stop.”

The second is a question: “can you reverse X and get the same results?”

“For example: many people believe that a woman’s feminist response to a husband’s infidelity should be to leave. But I think staying can also be a feminist choice, depending on the context. If Chudi sleeps with another woman and you forgive him, would the same be true if you slept with another man? If the answer is yes then your choosing to forgive him can be a feminist choice because it is not shaped by a gender inequality. Sadly, the reality in most marriages is that the answer to that question would often be no, and the reason would be gender-based – that absurd idea of ‘men will be men.’”

Adichie proceeds to lay out her fifteen suggestions for how her friend should raise her child. They are as follows:

  1. Be a full person
  2. Do it together
  3. Teach her that ‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense
  4. Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite
  5. Teach Chizalum to read
  6. Teach her to question language
  7. Never speak of marriage as an achievement
  8. Teach her to reject likeability
  9. Give Chizalum a sense of identity
  10. Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance
  11. Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms
  12. Talk to her about sex and start early
  13. Romance will happen so be on board
  14. In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints
  15. Teach her about difference

Of course, we’re only just scratching the surface here. The piece is much more in depth and nuanced and very much worth a close read in its entirety. These aren’t just lessons for a mother raising a child. These rules are a good reminder for all of us.

Read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new piece: “DEAR IJEAWELE, OR A FEMINIST MANIFESTO IN FIFTEEN SUGGESTIONS”

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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