Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Feminist Decree for the 21st Century

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions contains powerful, simple, and witty gems for moving towards gender equality.

This manifesto is essential reading for mothers and fathers who are raising young children, and others who envision raising children in a gender-equal world.

The fierce and powerful truth is this: there is no single or primary way to be a feminist.

This is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist decree for the twenty-first century.

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What Does It Mean to Be a Nigerian Immigrant in America?

The Thing Around Your Neck centers on Nigerians, the Nigerian diaspora, and the performance of living between two cultures.

These short stories explore what connects us to each other and our country of origin.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is adept at telling stories about the Nigerian immigrant experience in the U.S. and the struggle to maintain values and culture while formulating an identity. Her narrators, whether in Nigeria or the U.S., are mainly women and the choice is deliberate.

Through her stories, Chimamanda effortlessly poses the following questions:

  1. What does it mean to be a Nigerian immigrant in America? Or to be a Nigerian American who lives in Nigeria?
  2. Who constructs the boundaries of what each experience means and does not mean?
  3. What do these hyphenated identities truly represent?
  4. Is the thing around our necks our national identities?
  5. Do we wear these identities as expensive gold pendants- that at times, weigh us down?
  6. What is it like to be neither here nor there?
  7. Is life in the U.S. actually any better than life back home?

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Chimamanda’s characters in The Thing Around Your Neck embody the experiences of people who are trying to find answers to these questions.

By the end, we get a glimpse of what life might be like to live between two countries that are economically and socially different, yet full of people who share the same human emotions and struggles.

Read more selections by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Dear Ijeawele…

You may enjoy these short stories by Chinua Achebe and Lesley Nneka Arimah.

Girls at War and Other Stories by Chinua Achebe
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah

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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Reveals What It Means to Be Free

In Purple Hibiscus, Kambili and Jaja Achike’s story will stick with you forever. Their father, papa, is an abusive Catholic extremist, who values how he appears to those outside of his home, versus how he treats his family. At home, he is a violent dictator, but in public, he is a well-respected philanthropist.

Jaja’s disobedience at church, not getting up to take communion, stirs up the story. Kambili, the narrator, takes readers back to the events that triggered Jaja’s eventual defiance.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is essential reading for several reasons. Most important, however, is how she uses the Achike family to discuss larger societal themes. Chimamanda is able to write about whiteness and colonialism; silence and freedom; religion; and violence and war, topics that are resounding throughout the novel.

Whiteness and colonialism

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie contrasts papa with his sister Ifeoma. While papa believes Whiteness is superior and even fakes a British accent when speaking to White people, Aunty ifeoma, an outspoken professor at the University of Lagos, Nsukka, questions the notion that everything from the White man is superior.

The profound impact of colonialism in Nigeria is on full display in their interactions with each other.

Silence and freedom

The theme of silence is dominant in the novel. As the story unfolds, we observe as Kambili and Jaja are silenced under their father’s tyrannical rule. It is not until Aunty Ifeoma, and her children show up that we see the extent of Kambili and Jaja’s inability to express themselves. Aunty Ieoma’s children are outspoken, laugh a lot, and are free. Their speech is not silenced, and they are encouraged and supported to voice their opinions. In essence, there is freedom of speech.

The concept of freedom of speech comes up both metaphorically and literally when we learn about the standard, the only newspaper in Nigeria to speak out about the government. In the end, however, this freedom of speech comes with a severe price, it is interesting to learn that Kambili’s father runs the newspaper.

Chimamanda contrasts the freedom of speech that papa enjoys via his newspaper to the silence he demands from his children at home


Religion is another important theme. Kambili and Jaja are not allowed to visit their grandfather—a pagan worshiper—who still practices traditional Igbo rituals. According to papa, their grandfather is a heathen, and Kambili and Jaja are forbidden from visiting him.

However, when Kambili and Jaja visit Aunty ifeoma in Nsukka, they are introduced to a softer experience of their Catholic faith. Chimamanda highlights the idea that there are multiple ways to practice the same religion. While one way may cause harm to others, another approach may be one of love and acceptance.

Ultimately, both Kambili and Jaja have to choose the path that they believe is best for them.

Violence and war

The personal and familial war that each character endures is parallel to the turmoil that Nigeria, in its post-colonial infancy, faces.


Purple Hibiscus was a wonderfully written book; partly because Chimananda created space for the reader to emote on Kambili’s behalf. For the majority of the novel, Kambili is distant as she narrates the events that followed Jaja’s defiance.

Purple Hibiscus reveals quite eloquently what it means to be free.

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Read more selections by the author.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie