Just before christmas, The Guardian in its series “christmas ghost stories” has released a wonderful short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, called “Ofodile” – read it here. It is, in short, about an either ever crying or sleeping male child and how his mother deals with him. I would say it is, as usually, an absolutely amazing piece of Adichies writing, however pretty terrifying and also somewhat disturbing. It is also very much open to interpretation, I think. One of the story’s most interesting aspects to me were the weird feelings and the thereby caused scratching of limbs and face that were imposed on anyone entering Ofodiles room – except for his sister in the end. Are these ‘ghosts’ the bad conscience, pouncing on the mother for giving her son sedatives that she declared as vitamins? And: did the father have notice of that?
This is a must-see and very inspiring as well as insightful TED-talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie. Amongst other references, she talks about her experiences of being an ‘African in the West’ and how she got confronted with the socially constructed concept of ‘being African’, though she had never thought of it before. Well, why would she have ever done that?
„I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey […]. She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove.”
Reference: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009, July 23rd): The danger of a single story. Oxford: TEDglobal 2009.
Recommended readings by Adichie: Americanah (novel) & The Thing Around Your Neck (12 short stories).