Adichie won the Orange Prize some months ago for her book "Half a Yellow Sun," and here she speaks to the Guardian for her first major interview since winning the prize.
I think people are starting to do so in a more realistic way with the popularization of fiction like Adichie's, that shows a different view of Africa. Just the fact that people are reading novels written by Africans is a huge leap - not white people coming to Africa writing novels about their time but Africans as they experience Africa. And Africans are getting recognition for it too. Not just in prizes, but in book sales as well.
Adichie resists stereotypical views of Africa. "We have a long history of Africa being seen in ways that are not very complimentary, and in America [where she has been studying for the past 10 years] being seen as an African writer comes with baggage that we don't necessarily care for. Americans think African writers will write about the exotic, about wildlife, poverty, maybe Aids. They come to Africa and African books with certain expectations. I was told by a professor at Johns Hopkins University that he didn't believe my first book [Purple Hibiscus, published in 2003] because it was too familiar to him. In other words, I was writing about middle-class Africans who had cars and who weren't starving to death, and therefore to him it wasn't authentically African."
She is determined to show an Africa that isn't one huge refugee camp - a continent with many diverse stories, not a single story of suffering and dependency. "People forget that Africa is a place in which class exists," she says. "It's as if Africans are not allowed to have class, that somehow authenticity is synonymous with poverty and demands your pity and your sympathy. Africa is seen as the place where the westerner goes to sort out his morality issues. We see it in films and in lots of books about Africa, and it's very troubling to me."
She is sceptical about the impact of western celebrities who embrace Africa. "What I find problematic is the suggestion that when, say, Madonna adopts an African child, she is saving Africa. It's not that simple. You have to do more than go there and adopt a child or show us pictures of children with flies in their eyes. That simplifies Africa. If you followed the media you'd think that everybody in Africa was starving to death, and that's not the case; so it's important to engage with the other Africa."
And the part I like, personally, is that the women are leading the pack with the men lagging behind. It's not that I think men aren't writing the books, but it's nice for ONCE to see women advancing when there's been so many fields in which they can't advance.