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By: Adaobi Iwenofu
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Giving Life To The Serpentine Galleries Bridge - Audio Walks

It is easy to spout superlatives to define the positive attributes of the literary genius that is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. But unfortunately the ease with which it can be done, can so easily be defeated-as no one word from the list can best describe the beautiful innate gifts of oratory and writing that she possesses. A renowned and acclaimed writer both at home and internationally, Adichie has come to personify the definition of tapping into ones full potential, living your dream and consistently growing from the passion that you have for your craft.

Her most famous offering Half Of A Yellow Sun blew the literary world, her off-springs and those of a lesser predisposition towards reading away. The book in question has now been adapted into a feature length movie with key roles played by successful African diasporans’ residing in the West, who have conquered in their own chosen fields. Roll call: BAFTA Award winners and OSCAR nominees Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anika Noni Rose. And in Nigeria Genevieve Nnaji and Onyeka Onwuenu. The movie was directed by Biyi Bandele, whom also co-wrote the screen play.


Chimamanda’s gift has indeed made her a literary darling of our time. Her body of work has inspired and will leave a footprint that would inspire generations to come. Not one to shy away from addressing issues on the perception of her motherland through the global lens, or even bite the bait and share her well-rounded views on feminism if questioned/irked on matters that relate to or affect Africans and African women (see video below) Adichie is one of the emerging voices of the ‘aware’ Africans. Onye eme-na agu aka na-odu, ma odi ndu, ma onwulu-anwu (do not touch the lions tail, in sleep or death).


For her contribution to the Serpentine Gallery Bridge Commission Audio Walks, Chimamanda explored the female psyche by unearthing a deeper and desolate dark insight into the struggles and challenges faced by women in society. As the cornerstones of societies and matriachs within families, our realities were laid bare and no stone left unturned. Showing vulnerability, self-doubt and almost paradoxically a sense of self-awareness of the situation, one experiences an immediate recognisable sense of own self in her short story.  A line in the audio states: “In the mirror she looked at a person she could not see clearly, blurred features and shadowy movements of limbs”. The inability to see clearly through the fog reaches into the depths of one subconciousness-the 'knowing' that there is a better and magnificent you in there, and that in reality some areas of your life may be suffering from a lack which ignites the fire to want the best. A happy self seeks the constant quest to suck up the moisture in the air as nature does with the harmattan season, do not revel in proud desolation.

Our sometimes ready acceptance of what society dictates to be the status quo was apparent in another line, “she ate what was on the plate, it had to be beans–because it was always beans”. In helping to challenge the definition of the status quo-the sometimes demoralising effects of its enforcement on the female psyche, we need to tap into our subconscious to stir and boldly deal with the cards dealt by the hand that is life and question decisions made by society on our behalf. In reality, it is up to us to define who we are, what we are, our achievements and enjoyment of life, it does not rest on society and its doctrines. “She walked to the door, there was a haze in the air, the morning whitened, harmattan had come”. At points in life we need an epiphany – a time of reckoning and fight of the fittest which is you – woman.  

The short story was a contribution by Adichie to  the Serpentine Gallery Bridge Commission Audio Walks. To celebrate International Women’s Month. I dare you to have a listen and say that you are not WOMAN. Thank you Chimamanda, dalu* for the beautiful gift that you have and so willingly and graciously shared.



Foot Note*

Serpentine Galleries Bridge Commission Audio Walks

“Twelve writers have been invited to take part in the Serpentine Galleries’ new Bridge Commission, including the award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah.

 This is a literary journey into the fertile imagination of some of the world’s most compelling fiction writers, the commission explores the five-minute walk over the bridge between the Serpentine Gallery and its stunning new addition, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

 Each month, visitors will be able to download a new text onto their mobile phones, which lasts the duration of the walk from the Serpentine Gallery, through Kensington Gardens and over the Serpentine Bridge to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

The fourth Bridge Commission Audio Walk is written by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) and Americanah (2013). It is read by the author.



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