On ‘Americanah’– ” I do think “Americanah” is serious. I think that race is a very serious subject, but I also wanted to poke fun at it. I wanted to poke fun at so many things, so many ideas, one of which is the idea of self-censorship in this country and the way you’re supposed to talk about certain things and the things you’re not supposed to say. And so I think there’s a bluntness about the way that the character writes about race that I felt might make people uncomfortable.”
On her essay challenging Nigeria’s anti gay law– “I wrote it because I was angry. I was upset. I just – it was very personal, my reaction to it. And, you know, I mean, it’s easy to say I have people I love who are gay, which is true. But if I didn’t, I would still have been outraged by it because I just felt it was deeply unjust. And I recognize that I have a voice now in Nigeria. And so I wanted to write it and I wanted to write it specifically for a Nigerian audience, to say let’s actually think about this, let’s talk about this.
And the responses I got – I wasn’t surprised to get, you know. People telling me that I was possessed by the devil and that kind of thing. But also for every 10 people who said, you know, why did you write this – there were people who actually sent text messages to my family members saying ask her to shut up, this is very sensitive and she’s going to lose her status as a Nigerian role model blah, blah, blah. And people who said I used to love you but now that I know you support gays, I no longer love you. And when somebody told me this, that this is what her cousin had said, I said tell your cousin I don’t want her love if that’s the condition for her love.”
On being a smart woman and loving fashion- “I have a number of photographs. These things hopefully will be burned. But, you know, I’ve met women who, since I wrote that piece, have said the same thing to be, which is I actually like dressing up but I feel uncomfortable because I don’t know what people will think and say. And then I it’s a shame.
You know, I think if women want to dress up, they should bloody dress up and not imagine that one is going to ascribe all kinds of meanings to the fact that you like to wear a dress that’s fitted and high heels. And I think also that there’s something disturbing about the idea that somehow you do it for men, which I think is one of the reasons that certain feminists don’t like the idea of a woman caring about her appearance. And for me there’s something very un-feminist about that because I don’t do it for men, I do it for myself. And actually most men don’t even get it.”
On being sampled by Beyonce and Feminism- ” I think that anything that gets young people talking about feminism is a very good thing. I also think that I have a problem with the idea of feminism as being some sort of exclusive party that someone gets to decide whether you can come. And also the idea that somehow a woman who’s comfortable with her sexuality, that there’s something wrong with that. I have a problem with that. I think that, you know, a woman who, as long as it’s her choice, you know – so that we’re taking away sex work that’s coerced out of this – but a woman who has the choice, why have we decided that somehow a woman celebrating her sexuality somehow is something bad?
Maybe it’s that slightly Puritan idea. It’s also the idea that sex is something a woman gives a man and she loses something when she does that, which again, for me, is nonsense. I mean, I want us to raise girls differently, where boys and girls start to see sexuality as something that they own rather than something that a boy takes from a girl.”
Listen/Read the rest of the interview here