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Happy Birthday Chimamanda Adichie: Powerful Quotes From The Bestselling Author

Happy birthday, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Photo: Happyinafrica

To celebrate this special day of the author of best-selling books Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, anthology The Thing Around Your Neck and stories We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, we’ve put together some of our favourite, most-inspiring quotes from Adichie.

Feel free to share your favourite quotes in the comments section. We’d love to hear them.

“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognising how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

“We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

“Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights or something like that?’ Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression of human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Photo: The New Yorker


“The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

“If the justification for controlling women’s bodies were about women themselves, then it would be understandable. If, for example, the reason was ‘women should not wear short skirts because they can get cancer if they do.’ Instead the reason is not about women, but about men. Women must be ‘covered up’ to protect men. I find this deeply dehumanising because it reduces women to mere props used to manage the appetites of men.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

“There are people who dislike you because you do not dislike yourself.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Photo: Citylit

“If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

“There are two answers to the things they will teach you about our land: the real answer and the answer you give in school to pass. You must read books and learn both answers.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun

“We do not just risk repeating history if we sweep it under the carpet, we also risk being myopic about our present.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Show a people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Dangers Of Single Story Ted Talk

“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”
― Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Photo: One Aldwych

“Never speak of marriage as an achievement. Find ways to make clear to her that marriage is not an achievement, nor is it what she should aspire to. A marriage can be happy or unhappy, but it is not an achievement. We condition girls to aspire to marriage and we do not condition boys to aspire to marriage, and so there is already a terrible imbalance at the start. The girls will grow up to be women preoccupied with marriage. The boys will grow up to be men who are not preoccupied with marriage. The women marry those men. The relationship is automatically uneven because the institution matters more to one than the other.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

“Love is the most important. The most necessary human emotion. Not just romantic love. Love. The ability of human beings to connect.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Which of your favourite quotes did we miss?

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