Chimamanda Need Not To Bring Up Her Daughter As A Feminist; Review Of Dear Ijeawele

By Alexander Opicho

Face of feminism as equality between men and women recently enjoyed a global class lift. It happened through literature. It was nothing else but a new book released on 17th March 2017 by Chmimamanda Ngozi Adiche. It was published by Kopf publishers. The book which explores theories of feminism is under the title Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is 80 pages long. It is written by epistolary approach in form of a letter written by Chimamanda to her imaginary child-hood friend Ijeawele.

The book enjoys multiple strengths; written in simple English, wryly funny and vintageosly humourous. It has already enjoyed acclaim in the community of readers in America and Britain. Zoë Greenberg recently described it in the East African as a very good book from the prized author. Its main theme is feminism, feminism theories, and how a mother must bring up a daughter as a feminist. The book reads like a sequel to We shall all be Feminists; a radio talk that she later on converted into a novel that was published last year. Chimamanda now has 17 months old daughter and of course she is bringing her up as a feminist, a social position which calls for intellectual attention. Chimamanda recommends mental training, reading of special books as necessary efforts mothers should do to their daughters in the process to bring them up as feminists. In this book Chimamanda treats feminism as an imperative and compulsory virtue that mothers and fathers must adopt in bringing up the children.

Feminism is a gender conscious approach to life which treats men and women to be equal in all capacities. It is now a movement, a type of activism as well as a political and literary agenda in universities and administrative institutions. Chimamanda a Nigerian Igbo living in America is repulsed by social and economic patriarchy in African societies a vice which strongly derided in Jumping the Monkey Hill only to be recently more pissed off by how American patriarchy harassed Hilary Clinton during the last general elections. During the launch, Chimamanda hinted at Clinton’s recent Political experiences as some of social motivations that made to write Dear Ijeawele.

Chimamanda does not agree to the social position that equality of women to mean is not a reality, it can only be imaginary equality. A position which makes any keen reader of Dear Ijeawele to pose the following questions; must every woman be a feminist? must a daughter of a feminist be a feminist? is feminism the ultimate solution to problem of social exclusion of women from mainstream economic and social processes? What about heterosexism? isn’t auto-sexism a factor in corporate and social success of women. Answers to the above questions will obviously inform Chimamanda that she does not need to bring up her daughter as a feminist. Every person has a right and freedom to the conscience of personal preference.

Dear Ijeawele is a paradox, going by recent experience where Chimamanda said that she is unapologetically Igbo. And yet Igbo values require a woman to be submissive to a man just like Achebe puts it in Things Fall Apart, can a woman lie on the top of a man when they are making children? Conscious literature must not only uphold feminism but instead it must appreciate gender mainstreaming. This is what Chimamanda has also to look at in her writings. However, Chimamanda has to be appreciated for overt concern for education of African girl child and African Lesbian. In fact, in most of her writings she has often presented a girl as the most endangered, oppressed and un-privileged member of the African society. Her incisive portrait of the troubles facing an African girl-child and African lesbian as reported in the Rainbow-online provoked the Swedish Women Lobby organization to translate one of the books, We shall all be Feminists into the Swedish language as Alla Borde Vara Feminister , it was distributed free of charge to the Swedish teenagers.

Conclusively, Chimamanda is somewhat right, her concern is somehow socially perfect. We can all derive some positive lessons from her literary sentiments and rationalities in support of our struggle towards governance that is friendly to the universal culture of inclusivity. From her intellectual position we are bound to be propelled towards a logic that further efforts are needed to engender the literary civilizations to talk for all the minorities. To rename Wole Soyinka’s the Man Died in a new and gender conscious way of naming as The Human Died. What I mean here is very simple, not only politics but also literature can be used as tool for achieving social and political change and transformation.

By; Alexander Opicho
(From Lodwar, Kenya)