Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: 'Hair is political'



she is one of the most prominent of African writers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie born in Nigeria she divides her time between her birthplace and the United States where she completed her education an award-winning novelist a playwright and a poet her stock is set to rise further with the release of the Hollywood treatment of her Orange Prize winning novel half of a Yellow Sun it starts and a star stand in Newton and is set in the Nigerian Biafran war of the late 1960s it nothing what happens I know nothing happened to me I just really want you to marry me shouldn't I no longer make sense never made sense we'd have to take one to my father then is that it yes yes it is a use Humana's latest novel americana mirrors some of the experiences and divisions of her own life it's a tangled love story set in two countries that immerses itself in race immigration and the power of hair I asked her first though why she made so much of the complex relationship between two of the most central characters because that's what happens in life I mean I think you know we love don't we we love well I don't know about other people but I think we but human beings have the ability to love different people in different ways and sometimes even at the same time so if mlo has a different kind of love for opines there but then she goes to the u.s. and life goes on and we meet people when she finds a different kind of love and I think that it's a relationship that makes her grew so I think it's very important for her you know for for her becoming fully herself is it a more superficial love given the pace of America I think maybe the difference is that it's easier when you share this in culture because then when you don't but it's more intoxicating when you don't there's something there's there's a heightened sense when you don't because now there's the layer of sort of it's not mystery yeah the exhaust leak the unknown the sort of learning about something entirely new because you love somebody else and I think she has that with her American boyfriend but if you can stage these love affairs in these two such different worlds why is immigration such a problem why why is the experience of race so testing when it's possible as you described in your book I think that the way that America is set up makes it really difficult for for people of different races particularly white people and black people to connect you know that there's such a segregation and not just in the way people live but in the way people think about reefs so I think that's why but but you find that when people but it's a very multicultural society in Lagos too for example or it's a different thing and this is why when I talk about race what I mean maybe we should change the terminology and talk about skin color because by race I don't mean it I don't we wanted to stop talking about skin no we can't stop talking I mean this is the other thing I think this book is about the idea that there's no such thing as colorblindness I think it's you know I think it's just a I think that to insist on color blindness is somehow to refuse to engage because I mean skin color really affects the way people experience the wall now we can't deny that but but I think when I say that what I mean is that sometimes people conflate race and ethnicity so in Nigeria Nigeria is very diverse but not racially diverse I mean not skin color diverse were ethnically diverse and that has its own challenges but in some ways it's quite different from race I can't avoid the obsession with hair partly because I share it I mean my mother didn't have any hair she suffer from alopecia totalis which it means you have none at all and and you are obsessed with her straight hair box braids corn crows dreadlocks afros twists raucous curls kinky calls and tea dólares teeny-weeny afros where is all that when I can see that you have very interesting construct there come from I don't know I would but I'm did your mother work so she wore a wig yeah did she wear different wigs that did she sort of wear the same Wigan and did she she had several wigs and and and they would have to go away to be reconfigured from time to time and come back in brown boxes which we were never told what was inside so people didn't know that it wasn't her hair no but that is your hair well part of it might be a bit of a black it the tips are not the tips it's what's called afro kinky hair that's hard for kinky yeah and but it's very interesting that that so many elements of you are woven into this book yeah hair is absolutely one inescapable factor yes yes and are you somehow unless a woman if you don't go for this kinky of course no but I didn't want to write about hair because it's not just I mean it's not it's hair and I'm interested in hair just this is a very hair level but also just that is hair a conversation it's a political thing is it it's a first a woman's hair is political are you making a statement I don't intend to but I do you have it imposed on you the statement you really do by walking in somewhere with my hair like these people make assumptions that the immediate assumptions if my hair isn't straight people can assume that you're either you know they might think you're an angry black woman or them I think you're very soulful all them I think you're an artist or them I think you're vegetarian I mean there are all kinds of things that somebody likes a lot of time in the hair salon well but know the straight hair requires a lot of time as well well you know I'm just interested in hair as as the means of talking about other things what's the society tell us is beautiful because you know you look at women's magazines and these things matter I mean these things matter and we look at what's on television and what what is that of the larger society say is beautiful it's straight hair and so you have young girls who are growing up with that in their heads and it's something that I you know I want to talk about and want to address and wants a challenge never knew all that I mean what a lot you learnt in an interview with a great writer and you can see a longer version of that interview on our website just go to channel 4 comm forward slash news

Maurice Vega

33 Responses

  1. I hate how the host keeps interrupting before she even gets to the point of what she wants to say!!

  2. She is a bit too frank for the British audience. But as a Black woman I wear a wig because I have no time to wear my own hair. Not because I think straight hair is more beautiful. All women's hair is political. Not just Black people.

  3. Color blindness is bullshit a bigger lies.bcos they all have drivers license that means they see traffic lights and yet they are living in denial.

  4. Maybe he should should not be interviewing her,he's out of his journalistic realm (War, politics and hear say)

  5. I was bothered by the interrupting too, but I really got the feeling that it was not ill intended. I think he was interested in what she was saying and wanted to know more, keep the conversation going. And she was great like always.

  6. Lol…I'm laughing. In Africa there are loads of hairstyles. This hairstyle is simple 😊😊😊 I love it tho😍

  7. OMGGGG Jon Snow! She cant even get a sentence out without you interrupting. We don't want to hear what you have to say, we are interesting in what SHE has to say.

  8. Love the way Jon snow interacts with interviewees. Him, crishnan guru Murphy and of course sir Trevor McDonald are by far the best we have in uk journalism

  9.  the  hair convo with this staunch british man   made le laugh a bit I have read both americanah and half of yellow sun.. and they were amazing, honest in their simplicity and bold in observation. its really refreshing to have this African female voice in our times

  10. She's fabulously smart, intelligent,  ( yes there is a difference,)  so very self possessed,  and beautiful.  She also talks about things that the African American woman cannot broach,  or chooses not to.

  11. After all your education,you deny colour blindness.How do call a brown or yellow  complexioned person black?

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