Feminists around the world literally screamed when Beyonce’s visual album Beyonce hit iTunes last Friday. But it wasn’t because Beyonce dropped the gem out of the clear blue sky and made Christmas that much better for all of us.
It was the steady voice of prominent Nigerian-born author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie coming through the bouncy Houston-inspired beat of “Flawless” that delighted us — a voice that was the battle cry for feminists and women who don’t yet identify with the term to expel society’s standards and strive for gender equality.
It was not only Beyonce’s way to artistically align herself with feminism, it was a bold move on both Adichie and Beyonce’s part to include a powerful message about the ridiculous expectations of women in an easily digestible and fun way. And man, was it received well.
Even with Baby Carter serenading us on the track “Blue,” or Jay Z appearing in a couple of videos in the stunning visual masterpiece, it’s Beyonce’s collaboration with Adichie that has the world buzzing.
Here’s the 411 on the woman responsible for the powerful declaration.
1. Beyonce samples Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” speech from the TED 2012 conference. While the short sample in “Flawless” is worth a listen, the entire speech will surely change your mind about feminism:
2. In that same speech, Adichie makes a tongue-in-cheek comment about the by-the-book definition of a feminist and her attempt to align herself as one despite her differing narrative. “At some point I was a happy, African feminist who does not hate men and who likes lip gloss and who wears heels for herself and not men.”
3. Despite this excerpt in “Flawless:”
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 to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?
Adichie is married to Ivara Alistair Esege, a Nigerian doctor based in Maryland. And it’s safe to assume that yes, it’s a source of joy and mutual support, just like Adichie described in her speech.
4. Adichie is the fifth of six children born in an Igbo family in the city of Enugu. She comes from a family of academia — her father James Nwoye Adichie was a professor of statistics at a university in Nsukka and her mother, Grace Ifeoma, was the university’s first female registrar.
5. Before she was an author, Adichie studied pharmacy and medicine at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half.
6. When she was 19-years-old, she moved to the United States to finish college. She studied political science and communications at Drexel University before transferring to Eastern Connecticut State University. She graduated in 2001.
7. She completed her masters in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University in 2003 and her Master of Arts in African Studies from Yale in 2008.
8. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2007) and The Thing Around Your Neck (2009).
9. In 2013, Adichie was named one of Foreign Policy’s (FP) “Top Global Thinkers of 2013.”
10. Her latest novel, Americanah, was selected by The New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2013.”
11. Adichie’s “feminist” speech wasn’t her first TED talk. In 2009, she presented “The Danger of a Single Story,” which described her own journey to finding an authentic cultural voice and warns others of listening to a single story about another person or country. The risk, as she describes, is a critical misunderstanding of the world.
12. Today, Adichie spends her time between Nigeria and the United States.
PHOTO CREDIT: Tumblr, Screengrab