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The Feminist Advice of Chimamanda Adichie

A manifesto-letter, feasible and necessary for a fairer world with regard to both genders.

Literary star of the Anglo-Saxon world, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is about to be recognized as such on the French-speaking scene, where her name is mentioned more and more often. Born in 1977 in Nigeria, she is on the road to international success thanks to her third novel, Americanah, which has sold more than 500,000 copies. In 2014, Beyoncé took up her feminist remarks in her song Flawless. The slogan “We should all be feminists”, printed on the Dior T-shirts during the Fashion Week 2016 in Paris, is taken from a conference she gave in 2012, with more than three million hits on YouTube! – the text was subsequently published by Fourth Estate editions.


In March 2017, another hard-hitting book was published by Fourth Estate: Dear Ijeawele is a letter addressed by Adichie to her best friend, who asks her for advice on how to raise her little girl in a feminist way. The writer responds with fifteen suggestions which provide plenty of opportunity to deploy a idea rooted in reality, supported by the numerous examples of gender inequality that shape the Nigerian society in which she was raised. The context is African but strangely universal, or easily transposable, situations which concern both men and women, to find a way to live in harmony outside the sexist ruts. But how to rid themselves of the phallocratic norms and snares that condition the education of boys and girls from an early age – be it clothing, toys, the injunction made to little girls to behave and to be “good” or the diktat aimed at disciplining girls’ hair to demonstrate “neatness”? For the Nigerian author, gender equality is the cornerstone of a new society paradigm, including (and above all) in education. She also denounces “light” feminism that uses the vocabulary of permission, implying that men are naturally superior and that women can emancipate themselves “provided that” their husband allows them: “Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You are or you are not. You believe in full equality between men and women or you do not believe in it.

A must-read to revel in the bittersweet irony, benevolence and hope that underlie the whole book!


Aliénor Debrocq
Translated to English by Lynn Tyler

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Fourth Estate, 80p., £7.00.

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