Diplomacy/International

Focal points from Chimamanda & Merkel’s conversation in Germany

Two global icons – multiple award-winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and German Federal Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, were guest speakers at a conversation hosted at the Düsseldorf’s Schauspielhaus theater recently.

 

The conversation was moderated by Miriam Meckel and Lea Steinacker – co-founders of Journalism and Digital Education platform.

 

Their discussion focused on wide-ranging topics such as democracy, feminism, race, art, fashion, and social media. In honour of Adichie’s birthday on Thursday, here are six takeaways from their conversation.

 

  1. Adichie believes contemporary governments pay lip service to democracy

 

On the matter of governance, Adichie is of the belief that democracy as it is practiced in Africa especially in Nigeria does not reflect the ideals of the system of government. In Nigeria, she says it is more of a “patronage system.”

 

In her response, Angela Merkel noted that: “In order to preserve democracy, we need more than just politics.” She added that culture and history need to be preserved to keep a society together.

 

The two global icons also discussed cancel culture which has been on the rise in recent times. For them, it prevents any exchange of opinions or experiences, even when that would be appropriate or necessary.

 

  1. Adichie noted that some people on social media, “thrive on conflict. People go on these platforms and the goal is conflict, the goal is to misinform.”

 

Merkel agreed with her and urged people to be more tolerant and open-minded. “We should always try to engage with others and put ourselves in their shoes, and find out why they hold their views” she implored.

 

  1. Angela Merkel is a feminist

 

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The Nigerian author is the famed Feminist and her 2012 TEDx talk which has been viewed more than six million times titled, “We should all be feminists,” started a worldwide conversation about feminism.

 

But at Duesseldorf, the German Chancellor was the one who made headlines for stating publicly for the first time, “Yes, I am a feminist.” and echoed Adichie when she made the famous statement, “we should all be feminists.”

 

  1. Adichie wants people to read more and not just depend on social media for news

 

While acknowledging the role of social media in helping to galvanize social movements such as the 2020 End Sars protests, the famous novelist believes that it should not just be the only source for getting news at it is prone to half-truths and falsehoods.

 

“We need to be a bit more circumspect about how we consume social media in terms of news” she said. “Do not get your news from Tik Tok, read an actual newspaper,” she encouraged.

 

  1. Chimamanda is worried as the charismatic German Chancellor ends her tenure

 

Chimamanda praised Merkel whose tenure as German Chancellor is winding down. For her, the post-Merkel era holds a lot of uncertainty: “If she’s okay with leaving, I’m not okay with her leaving. I’m worried about what will happen to Europe! I’m worried that Europe will fall apart because she will not be there to hold things together.”

 

  1. Chimamanda continues to promote Nigerian fashion

 

Adichie is a true global citizen and travels to speak and lecture around the world. But her commitment to promote Nigeria remain steadfast wherever she travels. She continues to support Nigeria’s talented fashion designers by wearing mostly Nigerian brands for public appearances as her own “Wear Nigerian” project.

 

For the conversation with Merkel in Düsseldorf, Adichie wore a printed outfit that had been repurposed from her mother’s “george” wrapper that was traditionally tied around the waist. She sees fashion as a way to promote the fact that “there is a lot of talent in Nigeria and it needs a platform that’s international.”

 

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