I have just arrived in Abuja and I could say a lot about the very scary driving of my hotel driver, but the first thing you should know about Nigeria is that it is the home of one of my absolute favorite writers. Her name is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The way she writes and tells a story, just grips me and brings the words to life in my mind with such ease that I simply feel every emotion her characters go through, even though I have no reference for the life they lead or represent (either as Nigerians, or Nigerian immigrants in the US). Thus far she has written two wonderful novels, and a third is a compilation of stories. I could tell you much more about it, but of course can only recommend to pick up one of her books: ‘Half a yellow sun’, ‘Purple Hibiscus’ and ‘The thing around your neck’. If you don’t have time for this, then at least watch her following speech: The danger about a single story, or if you have little more time, read the story Quality Street.
In a way this speech also made me aware of how you contribute to a story about a country either in a positive or negative way, and whether it’s your story to tell or not. Moreover it remains a challenge to make sure I don’t contribute only to that ‘single’ story of Africa as an abject impoverished continent – although my work often only lets me look at this ‘single’ story about the countries I visit. I need to keep in mind that there are so many other stories to tell about this amazing, wonderfully confusing and challenging continent and it will remain a challenge for me to do so. Do remind or provide comments if I tend too much towards that ‘single’ story – it’s one of the things that I might need to and want to change. I hope you are curious to watch now….