Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie attends the Malaria Summit during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP
Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie attends the Malaria Summit during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sparks outrage with controversial essay

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Jun 17, 2021

Share this article:

Award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has come under fire for an essay on her official website titled “It Is Obscene” published on Tuesday.

In the three-part essay, Adichie addressed two unnamed authors whom she took under her wing, who later criticised her for transphobic comments made in a 2017 interview where she said “trans women are trans women”.

She was widely criticised by members of the LGBTQI+ community for the comment, with it labelled as transphobic and her feminism described as lacking intersectionality

Adichie recently shared a message of support for Harry Potter author JK Rowling, after she defended Rowling’s transphobic comments in her anti-trans essay last year.

Twitter users called Rowling a TERF – a trans-exclusionary radical feminist – and soon after, "JK Rowling is a TERF" started trending.

One of the authors Adichie addresses in the essay is Akwaeke Emezi, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.

In the lengthy post on her website, Adichie details how she took Emezi under her wing after they attended one of her workshops in 2015, as she saw them as a “bright young Nigerian feminist“.

However, things went in sour in their relationship in 2017 after Adichie’s comments in an interview on Channel 7 about trans women, where she also said that “of course they are women, but in talking about feminism and gender and all of that, it’s important for us to acknowledge the differences in the experience of gender”.

Emezi and the other unnamed author called Adichie out for her comments on social media and shared alleged private emails from Emezi where they apologised for their comments and wanted to find a way to fix their relationship.

In addition to this, Adichie had asked Emezi to remove her name from the bio of their novel “Freshwater”.

Adichie also stated that “asking that my name be removed from your biography is not sabotaging your career.

“It is about protecting my boundaries of what I consider acceptable in civil human behaviour.”

See the full essay below:

While Adichie’s fans praised her for the essays online, members of the LGBTQI+ didn’t agree with how she handled the situation.

Taking to their Instagram stories, Emezi responded to the author’s essay and said: “So apparently Adichie published emails from myself and another writer who was in her workshop without our consent.

“Like I said, I won't be reading it because it wasn't meant for me, it was designed to incite hordes of transphobic Nigerians to target me.

“However, if people think I'm going to feel ashamed of emails from when I loved and respected her, you are fools.

“Love is nothing to be ashamed of. Many of us loved her deeply until we realised that she hates trans people.

“To understand that someone you rooted for so deeply denies your existence, and to deny your existence means they do not want you to exist, for which you would have to be literally dead, to love someone who wants you dead, is not a new thing for me.

“Adichie is an agbaya [bad, elderly person], full stop. With her whole transmisic [ irrational hatred of transgender people] chest.

“She will not stop because this kind of hatred, this kind of bigotry, does not stop until its targets are dead.

“No matter how much the other Nigerians try to gaslight you into thinking that this is hyperbole, those of us who live inside it know very well that the stakes are life and death.

“So I will keep pointing out true things because stories can also be war and silence is not a reasonable weapon for me when trans people are dying and being targeted for even more death.

“If you support Adichie, even tangentially, you have picked your side and it is against trans people.

”If you were in the literary world and are silent about this when you raise outrage about other issues in our industry, then that tells on you too.

“Do with all that what you will.“

Share this article: