So What’s Beyoncé Gonna Say to Chimamanda Adichie, Now That There’s Much Ado About Nothing?

What’s she gonna say now that the interview in de Volksrant has some folk salivating over possible enmity between the two? Because, when it comes to feminism, Adichie said Bey’s style isn’t her style. It has some calling Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie all kinds of things ranging from “cocky” to “condescending” to “arrogant” to “superior” to (my personal favourite) “giving off an unsavoury vibe.” Chai. Adonbilivit.

Saying that she threw shade at Bey is what one tweeter called the “messy and the bored framing it as shade.”

All this from Adichie saying:

‘Her style is not my style, but I do find it interesting that she takes a stand in political and social issues, since a few years. She portrays a woman who is in charge of her own destiny, who does her own thing, and she has girl power. I am very taken with that…Still, her type of feminism is not mine, as it is the kind that, at the same time, gives quite a lot of space to the necessity of men. I think men are lovely, but I don’t think that women should relate everything they do to men: did he hurt me, do I forgive him, did he put a ring on my finger? We women are so conditioned to relate everything to men. Put a group of women together and the conversation will eventually be about men. Put a group of men together and they will not talk about women at all, they will just talk about their own stuff. We women should spend about 20 per cent of our time on men, because it’s fun, but otherwise we should also be talking about our own stuff.

People have gone overboard and will not hesitate to call Ms Adichie out of her name, with many of her fans and readers, and fellow writers, now having to do some damage control/ Beyhive swatting (I saw talk of cans of Doom and other insecticides, abeg)

So what’s Bey gonna say? I bet nothing. I bet it’s gonna be smiles and hugs, and aren’t people just so silly, Chima? Coz, girl, I know exactly what you meant. But not to put words in Beyoncé’s mouth. What people seem to miss is that it is the singer, not the author, that was introduced to something by the author’s TED talk. The fact that Beyoncé learned some things from Chimamanda when ****Flawless was produced is lost on a few folk. That she asked the author to feature on the song said something about Adichie – that she was powerful enough, eloquent and brilliant enough to be thought of. That Adichie was flattered, she has already spoken about. She has saidI realized it was something I would not be able to speak about with any nuance because whatever I said would be reduced to one line and become yet another source of noise.” And now that very noise is here. 

Some folk read the word “resentment” and took it to mean she resented Beyoncé. I took it to mean that she resented being asked about her all the time instead of just about the books she had written or the awards she’d recently won, or any other topic of substance. Meaty things like feminism, books, anything but Beyoncé would probably be more pleasing to a person who is involved in and is much celebrated for the literary arts. How some can’t seem to understand how annoying it must be to constantly get asked the same thing over and over as if it is your defining moment eludes me. Seriously.

Echoing what she has said before, in the recent interview Adichie said:

‘I was shocked about how many requests for an interview I received when that song was released. Literally every major newspaper in the world wanted to speak with me about Beyoncé. I felt such a resentment (laughs loudly). I thought: are books really that unimportant to you? Another thing I hated was that I read everywhere: now people finally know her, thanks to Beyoncé, or: she must be very grateful. I found that disappointing. I thought: I am a writer and I have been for some time and I refuse to perform in this charade that is now apparently expected of me: “Thanks to Beyoncé, my life will never be the same again.” That’s why [I] didn’t speak about it much.’

Perhaps we need to remember what Beyoncé herself sampled in that track.

“We raise girls to see each other as competitors” – are you seeing yourselves, Adichie detractors who want her to keep saying she’s grateful to the music star who firmly stamped her feminist label on her own brand with the use of Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists talk. Are you seeing and hearing yourselves?

“We teach girls to shrink themselves” – are you still seeing yourselves? Ehn? You called her cocky what-what, arrogant where-where. But did you really listen to the lyrics your own musical icon sampled? Did you?

I liked what some writers had to say about these shenanigans.

Belinda Otas, Deputy Editor at New African Woman Magazine, who has previously interviewed Ms Adichie:

“So Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie should be grateful to Beyonce for using her work because she gave her exposure and opened the door for her. You see some human beings. Adichie was already a well known writer, an award-winning one too, a MacArthur Genius, among other achievements before those few lines made it to a Beyonce Song. Different platforms and both women were equally big on them. One shouldn’t diminish the other. Get a grip folks, Beyonce does not feed Adichie. While I am not a feminist and wonder how one person’s feminism is different to another person’s feminism, what she said was not disrespectful. Just pointing out their differences. Anyway, make una carry on…”

Writer Novuyo Tshuma:

“One thing you have to appreciate, reading the unhappy responses about Chimamanda Adichie’s comments re her different ideas of feminism from Beyonce’s, is Adichie’s confidence, bordering on a delicious type of arrogance. One sees nothing wrong with Adichie having differing views and ideas on feminism than those of Beyonce’s, these are grown women, adults, this is not creche or an affirming party, adults critique and disagree. Also, one wonders if this unhappiness is also due to the shock of Adichie not doing the expected again, since it is expected, as Adichie points out, that she should be sycophantically grateful to have been featured in Beyonce’s album, which she is clearly not, she is pleased and happy, but still claims the right to hold her own views. She claims her own space as a writer – and claims the importance of what she does as a writer – who has been working at her writing and gained her fair share in this field over the past two or so decades. Again, contemporary Western iconic culture is not used to being critiqued by (particularly) black Africans it recognises or celebrates, who are expected to genuflect and play the role of the grateful black having been dragged out of the Heart of Darkness into the limelight. So, Adichie speaking her mind in her usual confident manner must come as a shock to the glory worshippers of Western culture who are not used to being critiqued in this way by non-Westerners they welcome into their arena as ‘their own’. But why are we surprised? This is Adichie. She has always spoken her mind. Gone against societal expectations. A society that is obsessed with policing its women and does not know what to do with a woman who shows disregard for its ‘rules’.”

So what’s Bey gonna say, now that even she would see the noise is clearly about really very little?



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