Today, in your latest “White people be wylin” news, we feature French journalist, Caroline Broué.
During a sit down with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Broué asked first about Adichie’s culture. She spoke about the university community that influenced her speaking and writing in English. But Adichie also said, that her culture was richly Igbo, also in language and custom.
Somehow, the next question was:
Broué: Do people read your books in Nigeria?
Adichie: They do shockingly?
Gross. As if literature is only created and consumed in the West. Like the people of Nigeria wouldn’t support their own. But if you thought that was bad, it got worse.
Broué then said, Are there bookshops in Nigeria?
A loud and long gasp from the crowd.
Adichie nodded, pursed her lips and shifted in her chair as Broué tried to explain her question.
“It’s because you’re reacting that way that I’m asking the question to feed into the next one. You were talking about single stories, now when you talk about Nigeria in France, unfortunately, there is not much said about Nigeria. When people talk about Nigeria, it’s about violence, it’s about Boko Haram, it’s about security. I should like you to tell us something about Nigeria that is different. Talking about it differently. That is why I’m saying, ‘Are there bookshops?’ Of course, I imagine there are. I could ask the question to the French, do people read in France? I imagine, less and less so.”
Adichie kind of scoff-chuckles before responding, aptly.
“You know, I think it reflects very poorly on French people that you have to ask me that question. I really do.”
“Because, I think surely, it’s 2018. You know? I mean, come on. My books are read in Nigeria. They are studied in schools. Not just in Nigeria, across the continent of Africa. And it means a lot to me because; obviously I’m very grateful to be read everywhere in the world. But there’s something about being read by the people about whom you write.”
You can watch the whole interview or this part of the conversation around the 37-minute mark.
Something about Broué’s body language and her facial expression as she asked the question led me to believe that her question was meant to get a reaction or to take some type of jab. It makes no sense and if the room knew it, I find it hard to believe that she couldn’t understand the implications of her question.