Bedtime storytelling is not a universally shared experience amongst Nigerians. Many Nigerians weren’t raised to the calming voice of their African parents telling them stories before they go to sleep at night. Those are the portrayals we have only seen in movies. A more relatable experience would be the occasional power outage that would signal that it is time to get to bed. Powerful author, Chimamanda in an Instagram post gave us the chance to experience beautiful storytelling that we might have missed out in as kids.
by Toluwanimi Onakoya
On Tuesday, a simply made-up Chimamanda in a regal head tie and a bright blue outfit took to Instagram to share the introduction she wrote for the book titled “Africa; The Future of Football.” The book featured a series of vibrant photographs, detailing football in Africa. The wide, attractive book collected photographs by Pall Stefansson, with a foreword by the African footballer, Didier Drogba. She starts the video reminiscing on how she had almost forgotten that she wrote the introduction and upon discovering it, she decided to share it with the audience.
The introduction begins by telling the captivating story of Chimamanda’s sister and the caustic relationship she had with her neighbour. It highlights that the only time they ceased fire was when Nigeria won the gold medal in the 1996 summer Olympics. It pens down the togetherness that Nigeria’s national football team, Super Eagles had brought in her household.
She took the viewer on the journey of how they went from cautious expectations to jubilant celebration when Super Eagles beat Brazil and then Argentina at the finals, joyfully carrying the medal. She comments on how wary she is of nationalism, but could not in any way resist being pulled in at that moment. Going further to describe the excitement she has any time she sees Nigeria playing in an important football match. She comments on how this sense of nationalism extended past Nigeria and eased into other African teams.
An instance of this was when she and her sister referred to the Ghanian team as “our boys” when they played and beat the United States of America in the 2010 World Cup. The introduction closes by saying despite there being so many things wrong with the state of the continent, these wins made Africans feel like “ at least we can achieve this”. And it made Africans wonder what they would be able to achieve, if only “we all had shoes”.
Chimamanda not only shows off her talent as a beautiful writer but also as a magnificent orator. She switches intonations, pitches and “voices” to make a more realistic reading. She carries the audience along, causing the viewer to pause when she pauses and smile when she smiles. She pushed the audience to feel the varying emotions she experienced when going through those situations. So many comments by Nigerians reflected how calming the experience was for them, praising her voice as powerful and soothing.
Not many wield the power to not only write a moving story but to tell it in such an enthralling manner. It’s an enjoyable experience to listen to Chimamanda, an expert in both. With nothing much in most people’s schedules during this period, it is with much eagerness that one hopes Adichie continues to grace us with her reading over the following weeks.