Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah and Half a Yellow Sun, and a prominent feminist whose work has been sampled by Beyoncé, has accused Akwaeke Emezi, a younger writer, who was once her pupil, of being an opportunist, who tried to capitalise on their former teacher’s celebrity status.
Emezi, a non-binary person, responds by claiming that Adichie “hates trans people” and is attempting to subjugate the LGBT community through her platforms.
You have to go back a few years to grasp their current struggle, and it takes some untangling to understand their interactions. Emezi rehashed their critiques of Adichie’s comments to BBC Channel 4 in 2017. Meanwhile, Adichie has championed LGBTQ rights in Nigeria, where it is still illegal to be LGBTQ, and anti-LGBTQ violence is frequent.
A reminder that several of your favorite cishet African women writers share similar opinions on trans people as She Who Must Not Be Named ?
— akwaeke emezi (they/them) (@azemezi) November 12, 2020
Adichie was asked about feminism and trans women by a BBC interviewer. “I have the impression that trans ladies are trans women,” she remarked. “I find it difficult to accept that if you’ve lived in the world as a man, with the privileges that the world bestows on men, and then change gender, we can then compare your experience to that of a woman who has lived in the world as a woman from the beginning, without the privileges that men enjoy.”
Emezi accused Adichie of having no concern or compassion for the trans community in a lengthy Twitter discussion earlier that month.
Adichie published a lengthy essay titled “It Is Obscene” on her own website on Tuesday, 15 June 2021, in which she attempted to refocus the conversation on specific issues she’s had with Emezi and another young, unnamed writer from her workshop — not over Emezi’s gender identity, but over what she believes to be the younger authors’ personal flaws — in scorched-earth language.
In the piece, Adichie accuses Emezi of using her identity without permission to advance their own career — in advertising materials, on their book cover, and even when applying for a visa to the United States.
Adichie had requested that her name be removed from Emezi’s bio and promotional materials after the release of their first novel “Freshwater” in November 2017, according to Emezi’s Twitter thread.
This was ostensibly due to Adichie’s comments about trans women. “I was fine with that since, to be honest, I agreed that my link to her shouldn’t be utilized to market my work,” they wrote. “We don’t share the same values. I didn’t want her name on my books, and I still don’t want it on my books.”
Emezi responded to Adichie’s piece via their Instagram Story and a lengthy IGTV video on Wednesday. In one Story, Emezi writes, “She produced an explosive post that she knew would attract hundreds of transphobic and homophobic people to our social media accounts, crowding our conversations with violent remarks.
“What do you suppose her intention was when she did that? It’s no surprise that she’s going for queer and trans writers.”
The feud is still ongoing and has prompted many Nigerians to give opinions and pick sides.
See some reactions:
Chimamanda has the right to express rage and disappointment at people she thought were friends who used and deeply hurt her. Trans women also have the right to be outraged and defend themselves against being targeted by her malicious politics she tries to pass off as benevolence.
— Uju Anya (@UjuAnya) June 16, 2021
the chimamanda essay is essential reading but this part just absolutely nails everything that is wrong with this generation pic.twitter.com/5wW1pn3SlJ
— axaxaxas lmaö (@demarionunn) June 17, 2021
This doesn’t seem like it’s written by Chimamanda. She is beyond brilliant. But this piece is shallow, repetitive and tedious I find
— Yellow ? (@chicachula5000) June 18, 2021
I see Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has decided to occupy the Vampire’s Castle today, from which vantage, unfortunately, every light looks like a flaming brand.
— Elvis Buñuelo (@Mr_Considerate) June 16, 2021
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