Anyone who knows me knows that I am a strict Chimamanda fan. I agree with 95% of the things she says. I love her writing so much that I pause everything to read whenever I come across anything she has written.
So, it was with great sadness that I announced on Sunday, September 16th that I had come across a particular poster inviting the public to an evening of conversations with Chimamanda. Apparently, she would be in Lagos on the 22nd of September and I would not be able to go. Why? You ask. After all, the first chapter was me singing her praises.
No, both my legs weren’t broken, I wasn’t stuck in a hospital, I wasn’t suffering from a horrible disease (that I know of) and none of my family members died (Alhamdulillah). The first three wouldn’t have been enough reason to miss it though. It was sadly because the event was sold out.
I was so sad. I was in a bus on my way back from Ibadan for a friend’s wedding and I could feel tears threatening behind my lids. You see, I have wanted to meet her for so long. To ask what was going through her mind when she decided to ditch an entire medicine and surgery and study humanities instead. I wanted to ask what her parents thought of her decision, how she got so good at writing, and could she please teach me.
I thought she wouldn’t do the Farafina writing classes anymore but more news on that later. This was like the only way I thought I could see her. So, I crossed my fingers and hoped. And then one day, I was surfing the internet and I saw a giveaway on Bella Naija’s blog. I entered for the giveaway and to my utter surprise, I was one of the winners.
From the way I was screaming, it was obvious that I was more than excited. My father stared at me with an emotion I could not identify. He knows writing is my first love but he didn’t understand why I was so excited about meeting Chimamanda.
My brother was the demon on my shoulder. I hadn’t received an email and they’d posted the list of winners since early afternoon. He was laughing and saying it might not be me.
My mother was the typical Nigerian mother — as my brother fueled my doubts, she prayed that by God’s grace, they would send the email, by God’s grace, it was me. Her prayers were answered, or maybe the prayers weren’t needed. They were still appreciated.
I told everyone, I announced it excitedly. I was finally going to meet this brilliant woman who I had wanted to meet for so long.
On my way to the venue, I almost got lost. No one knew where I was going and I had to rely on Google Maps, which was a total lifesaver. I got there late but the show didn’t start early. I wasn’t anxious, I simply brought out my copy of An Abundance of Scorpions and continued from where I’d stopped. I’d have read one of Chimamanda’s books but I’ve read them all.
Finally, Chimamanda showed up about an hour after the show was supposed to start (by 3pm). Let me tell you, the pictures do not do her justice. She is a very beautiful woman and the way she sat in that raised chair, you could tell that she is a woman who is satisfied with the choices she has made in life.
She spoke about feminism, about writing, about Americanah being adapted into a series, on her own marriage and several other things. I was in awe, I am still in awe. Apparently, her Farafina creative writing class isn’t dead yet, it will be making a comeback, keep your eye out for the news.
Chimamanda is brilliant, in case you were wondering. I don’t know how she does it but she doesn’t even stumble over her words, she doesn’t stutter, and she especially knows how to put people in their place without hurting their feelings.
One thing I didn’t expect but I pleasantly found out no less, is the fact that Chimamanda is hilarious! She had the entire room laughing uproariously at her jokes. If writing and public speaking doesn’t work out, she can always turn to stand up comedy.
I wanted to ask a question that has always been on my mind but the person beside me also wanted to ask a question and I decided to let her. Her question was quite beneficial to me too. She asked what three tips Chimamanda would give to aspiring authors and Chimamanda gave four.
Read, Read, Read,
Look for someone who loves you and loves to read,
Be willing to accept sometimes that your work isn’t good,
Don’t stop trying, writing.
By the time the event was over, I was floating on a cloud. I also recorded the whole thing for future use. I mean, I might need the giddiness I found on that day sometime next week, or next month, or next year.
Also, I am convinced that a lot of the times she trends on social media, she’s usually misinterpreted. Actually, she doesn’t care much, she’s not on social media anyway.