Chimamanda Adichie, award-winning novelist, says more African stories need to be told to preserve the heritage, history and development of the continent.

Adichie said that stories are important for development as they underline the existence of people and their worldviews.

Speaking on Thursday in Egypt at the launch of CANEX book factory and prize for publishing in Africa, she said it has become imperative to reclaim the history of African because the continent has been sidelined for far too long.

“We need more stories on this continent because we need to reclaim our histories. We need stories because stories are very much part of development,” Adichie said

“Our continent has so often been sidelined and maligned, and while there has been some change, there is still altogether too much patronising and too much pity directed at this continent.

“And it must be said that there are also a few Africans who by their actions, enable the state of affairs.

“If we reclaim our histories, it will give us the confidence that comes from knowing who we are. We need more stories so that we can turn our myths into memory.”

Adichie said African children attend elite boarding schools in different parts of the world, and they learn about Greek mythology, with little or nothing taught on African culture.

“But what is the difference between Persephone, the Greek goddess of planting seeds; and Ala, the Igbo goddess of land?” she queried.

“It is only that one story has been told well, and the other story has not.”

The writer added that telling more of these African stories would give more confidence and dignity to the people and as well shape their political perception.


“There is a clear psychological component to development, a nation without a strong sense of itself, a strong psychological sense of itself, cannot thrive,” she said.

“Stories can take away dignity and stories can also restore dignity.

“Stories shape politics and perception.

“I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by people in different parts of the world, that after reading my novels, they started to see Nigeria differently.”

Adichie suggested that children at their early age be exposed to reading storybooks as it would improve their cognitive abilities and communication skills.

“We need more African literature, because no matter what your discipline is, reading well written imaginative writing will teach you how to think in creative and complex ways and we need to start early with our children,” she said.

“When children read storybooks consistently, they’re learning without even knowing that they’re learning. Their vocabulary, their communication skills, their thinking abilities are all improving.

“We need more stories so that future generations of Africans will find it hilarious that there was indeed a time when Africans went to school to learn that a European discovered Victoria Falls, and a European discovered River Niger, even though Africans have been living there for generations.

“I’m reminded of a conversation I once had with a Nigerian who was complaining that a European had said that Africans have built so few skyscrapers in Africa.

“And this Nigerian then went on to argue about, that no, there are skyscrapers in Nigeria and skyscrapers in South Africa.

“And what I was struck by was, it seems to me that the problem really was that, we have somehow accepted that skyscraper should be the basis on which to measure our growth.

“Sometimes it feels to me that even our aspirations as Africans, are shaped by others.

“Stories can give us the confidence to own our own aspirations and to become more confident in our storytelling.”

She advised that Africans should maintain a proactive approach to storytelling rather than a defensive one, as this would help them do more stories and reclaim the unique and rich histories of Africa.

“A nation is not geography. A nation is psychology. A continent is psychology. And so we need stories in order to know ourselves,” Adichie said.


By TheInterviewsNigeria

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