Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chimamanda Inspired...

Happy New Year everyone …I hope the year started out well for you like it did for me. It’s been a good year so far, can see the hand of God already. It’s going to be the year of the greater Light!, Amen.

I just saw Chimamanda Adichie’s talk on the danger of a single story & I was totally blown. Sheeez!, that girl is good. I love her diction, her composure, the passion with which she spoke & she’s sooo down to earth (or so it seems). She narrated how she grew up reading British & American story books and how those books influenced character choices in her early writing. I would say that was my case as well. I grew up reading Enid Blyton books (Mallory Towers, Famous Five, Secret Seven, St Claires, e.t.c.), Sweet Valley High, Keepsakes, Babysitter’s club, e.t.c. Those books formed my thinking, my mindset, my paradigm. For Chimamanda, it was just her writing style but for me, it was my life. I wanted to eat strawberry, I wanted to eat cupcake & scones, I wanted to own a dog, I wanted to be popular in school, I wanted to have a best friend, I wanted to live the kind of life I read in the books. I remember my first story book, it was about a nineth grader named Thomas Thrackery, he was the finest boy in Wellington High school, all the girls had a crush on him, Yes, I had never left the shores of Naija but I knew enough to write a story about an imaginary High School in Los Angeles…LOL

TV did not help matters either because I watched a lot of it, I fantasized about being a “Huxtable”- (The Cosby show), had a huge crush on David (The wonder Years), wished to be Laura (Family Matters) and wished that uncle Phil was my uncle (Fresh Prince of Bel Air), I wanted to live like them….I just couldn’t understand why my parents made me do house chores. On TV and in the books I read, children didn’t have to do house work, they got hugs & kisses and had bedtime stories read to them, children were not flogged, they only got grounded when they misbehaved. I fantasized about my sweet sixteen birthday, how my parents will throw a big party for me, Aha!, only in my dreams, in Nigeria such things never happen (or maybe was just my family). I spent my sixteenth birthday at home doing normal house chores. I wanted to have a room all to myself because all the characters in the books I read had nice pretty rooms all to themselves but ofcourse I didn’t get any of that because I had sisters who needed shelter as well.

TV, books, (The western media) affected my childhood a lot, I spent most of my childhood with my head pretty much in some faraway dreamland than on planet earth. I have long come to terms with reality though but I wouldn’t deny that those books helped me get past most of the tough times in my life, those times my elder sisters were mean to me (not that they are wicked …they just loved bullying me), those times when my parents punished me (for a good cause ofcourse becos I was naughty), those times when I was just sad (happened once in a while), I’d lose myself in the world of those imaginations and nothing else will matter anymore.

What led to all of this rambling sef??...Chimamanda’s danger of a Single Story!, great speech.


Olufunke said...

Long time
You are right, I can feel you.
We are products of what we grow up reading, watching, and adoring.
Very interesting post!
Please dont let the posts this year be so far and in between.

Myne Whitman said...

That talk was a great one, on so many levels. I also read a lot of foreign books but they were balanced by the African writers series, pacesetters and the Eze goes to school type. And yeah, books are always a refuge.

Enkay said...

I am rocking some books by some of naija's finest writers and i'm having a ball!

Chimamanda inspires me too, so watch out for my book coming out soon!

I hope you'll do better in blogville this year?

Femme Lounge said...

saw her talk too. an age long story powerfully told in today's words.she is good.


She did an excellent job explaining things, didn't she?

Hope all is well.


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