African women—women from Africa, women expected to speak for and as Africa, women invited to events to be African—face the daunting burden of speaking, but not too well; understanding, but not too fluently; responding, but not too abrasively; knowing, but not too comprehensively. And always, always, upholding their dignity as African women. U.S.-based institutions invite African women to be African women: we want colorful head dressings so we can ooh and aah, appropriately chunky jewelry that socially conscious students can emulate, and down-home wisdom rendered in proverbs and riddles, references to ancient wisdom and secret knowledge.
Chimamanda Adichie visited the University of Maryland to participate in the Dean’s Lecture Series, and she said “fuck, fuck.”
It happened early during her session. And here’s the context. She described walking near her ancestral home, on the way to visit a favorite uncle. A woman who was walking ahead of her slipped and…
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