…Dear Chimamanda…

Dear Chimamanda

You don’t know me yet, but you have to know that I am beyond obsessed with you.Hold on now maybe obsessed is not the word I am looking for, pardon me I am quaking as I write this you will understand why as you read on.

I admire everything about you. I admire your style of writing, I don’t know how you get it so right in reading people’s minds, but you do.

For the longest time I have been searching for a female African writer(s) who would be telling African stories only the way Africans will. I could not believe my luck when I discovered your books. See I have always been a reader, growing up my reading was limited to what I could find around me. Luckily enough my dad worked as a garner and he would bring home out dated magazines usually (YOU) and would feast on it.

My sisters and I, would as we page the magazine(s) point at the people and say ‘ndim lowa’ (that’s me),truth is, as  much as we would do that deep down we knew that we could never be like that. I guess what we really wanted was to see ourselves in the pages, we wanted to see people who looked similar to us, why was it so hard? Now that planted a question that I am still searching answers to –why were African stories not normalised as western stories were?

As we grew older we were upgraded to reader’s digest books that would be passed on to us and your Danielle Steele’s, they all had similarities in how the characters would be described – blue eyes, carrot coloured hair.

Nothing wrong with Ms Steele and the rest of them but my mind would really battle in imagining these sceneries, this was before the internet there was no google to help me out.

I could not believe my luck when I discovered your books, my goodness! I remember after finishing Half of the yellow sun, I ran around looking for more of your writings, I waited three weeks to get my hands on Purple hibiscus (Yes I read them in reverse order) then it was Americana and lastly things around your neck. In between those I have sat up till the early hours of the morning listening to your TedTalks over and over.

If there is an article/essay that you have ever written and haven’t read it is because I haven’t seen it anywhere, I have read down to Apollo, interviews everything.

A non-conformer who is a visionary, who won’t let other people’s ideas of her side track her – that’s you.

There are so many people to look up to in nowadays and that is a wonderful thing. So many role models to choose from, but you Chimamanda are mine, you are gentle and strong in equal measure.

I feel like you have this unique way of telling our stories. Yes I say our stories because I have recognised so many of my people in your stories, my aunts, my uncles, my friends. Believe it or not whether one is in Nigeria, Ghana or South Africa the similarities in how we Africans lead our lives is immeasurable.

You have provided us with authentically nuanced and imperfect characters, free from stereotype and archetypal constraints. I would be reading Purple Hibiscus, laugh to myself thinking ‘oh lord I know a father like that or a family like that’.You capture us and leave us wanting more.

Your writing is effortless and easy (It seems, I know it can’t be easy, but you get my point right?).I can understand that the ease in which each and every story is presented is a product of your conviction, of your uncompromised belief in the work that you do.

You have unwittingly given me permission to tell stories, stories of my upbringing and surroundings. The wisdom that is found in our people, educated or not .The woman who came before us. My aunt who has always been a true feminist even though she doesn’t know it.I look around me and think, ‘you know what? These are our stories and they too are worth telling’.

I hardly have the groupie gene in me, but given a chance if I were to bump into you I would through my bra at you(that’s what groupies do , isn’t it).

No seriously, you are a beam of light shining out a path for the rest of us and I feel like I have to pay homage to how important you are. Not that you do not now this already but hey allow me.

Are we best friends yet?

No?

Call me will you?

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