“African stories crucial for heritage, development,” says award-winning writer
Nigerian-born and award-winning writer, Chimamanda Adichie, has emphasised the importance of more African stories to preserve the continent’s heritage, history, and development. She spoke at the launch of CANEX Book Factory and Prize for Publishing in Africa during the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) Summit in Cairo, Egypt.
“We need more stories on this continent because we need to reclaim our histories,” Adichie expressed, highlighting the impact of stories on various aspects of development, including psychology, education, and politics. She urged Africans to tell their stories to instil confidence, dignity, and a strong sense of identity.
Adichie underscored the need to introduce African children to stories that reflect their heritage and history. Drawing a parallel between Greek mythology and Igbo mythology, she emphasised the power of storytelling in shaping perception and restoring dignity.
“Telling more African stories would give the people and continent more confidence and dignity in their heritage, shaping politics and perception,” Adichie stated. She emphasised the psychological component of development, noting that a nation without a strong sense of itself cannot thrive.
Adichie shared her experience of people from different parts of the world expressing a changed perception of Nigeria after reading her novels. She stressed the importance of exposing children to storybooks, stating that reading well-written imaginative writing improves cognitive abilities, vocabulary, and communication skills.
“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 River Niger, even though Africans have been living there for generations,” Adichie remarked.
While encouraging Africans to proactively tell their stories, she cautioned against defensiveness and urged the continent to shape its aspirations through storytelling. Adichie concluded by stating that the idea of a nation is about stories and psychology, emphasising the role of stories in helping Africans know themselves.