97+ Best Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Quotes

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer whose works range from novels to short stories to nonfiction. Profoundly inspirational Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes will make you look at life differently and help you live a meaningful life.

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Famous Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Quotes

Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Why did people ask What is it about? as if a novel had to be about only one thing. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I often make the mistake of thinking that something that is obvious to me is obvious to everyone else. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Greatness depends on where you are coming from. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There are people who think that we cannot rule ourselves because the few times we tried, we failed, as if all the others who rule themselves today got it right the first time. It is like telling a crawling baby who tries to walk, and then falls back on his buttocks, to stay there. As if the adults walking past him did not crawl, once – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I am drawn, as a reader, to detail-drenched stories about human lives affected as much by the internal as by the external, the kind of fiction that Jane Smiley nicely describes as ‘first and foremost about how individuals fit, or don’t fit, into their social worlds.’ – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It is easy to romanticize poverty, to see poor people as inherently lacking agency and will. It is easy to strip them of human dignity, to reduce them to objects of pity. This has never been clearer than in the view of Africa from the American media, in which we are shown poverty and conflicts without any context. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Perhaps it is time to debate culture. The common story is that in real African culture, before it was tainted by the west, gender roles were rigid, and women were contentedly oppressed. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When it comes to dressing well, American culture is so self-fulfilled that it has not only disregarded this courtesy of self-presentation but has turned that disregard into a virtue. We are too superior/busy/cool/not-uptight to bother about how we look to other people, and so we can wear pajamas to school and underwear to the mall. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When the writing is going well, I’m obsessive. I don’t shower, I don’t take phone calls, I hardly respond to text messages, I don’t do email. I take breaks only to read, and usually I read poetry. When it’s not going well, I just lie in bed and eat chocolate. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends, but our daughters’ boyfriends? God forbid. But of course, when the time is right, we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husband. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

And it’s wrong of you to think that love leaves room for nothing else. It’s possible to love something and still condescend to it. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Is love this misguided need to have you beside me most of the time? Is love this safety I feel in our silences? Is it this belonging, this completeness? – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Richard exhaled. It was like somebody sprinkling pepper on his wound: Thousands of Biafrans were dead, and this man wanted to know if there was anything new about one dead white man. Richard would write about this, the rule of Western journalism: One hundred dead black people equal to one dead white person. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The best novels are those that are important without being like medicine; they have something to say, are expansive and intelligent but never forget to be entertaining and to have character and emotion at their center. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

You can have ambition but not too much You should aim to be successful but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanaian. America doesn’t care. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Being defiant can be a good thing sometimes, Aunty Ifeoma said. Defiance is like marijuana – it is not a bad thing when it is used right. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The real tragedy of our postcolonial world is not that the majority of people had no say in whether or not they wanted this new world; rather, it is that the majority have not been given the tools to negotiate this new world. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If I had not grown up in Nigeria- and if all I knew of Africa were of popular images- I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals and incomprehensible people fighting sensless wars, dying of poverty and aids- unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind white foreigner. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I can write with authority only about what I know well, which means that I end up using surface details of my own life in my fiction. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I write from real life. I am an unrepentant eavesdropper and a collector of stories. I record bits of overheard dialogue. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

That her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I was stained by failure. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Our histories cling to us. We are shaped by where we come from. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I think human beings exist in a social world. I write realistic fiction, and so it isn’t that surprising that the social realities of their existence would be part of the story. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In America, racism exists but racists are all gone. Racists belong to the past. Racists are the thin-lipped mean white people in the movies about the civil rights era. Here’s the thing: the manifestation of racism has changed but the language has not. So if you haven’t lynched somebody then you can’t be called a racist. If you’re not a bloodsucking monster, then you can’t be called a racist. Somebody has to be able to say that racists are not monsters. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

He was making her feel small and absurdly petulant and, worse yet, she suspected he was right. She always suspected he was right. For a brief irrational moment, she wished she could walk away from him. Then she wished, more rationally, that she could love him without needing him. Need gave him power without his trying; need was the choicelessness she often felt around him. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

To choose to write is to reject silence. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

People have crushes on priests all the time, you know. It’s exciting to have to deal with God as a rival. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I recently spoke at a university where a student told me it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had recently read a novel called American Psycho,and that it was a shame that young Americans were serial murderers. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye … I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

All over the world, girls are raised to be make themselves likeable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people. Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the North, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of a yellow sun stood for the glorious future. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

You Americans, always peering under people’s beds to look for communism. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There are some things that are so unforgivable that they make other things easily forgivable. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Relaxing your hair is like being in prison. You’re caged in. Your hair rules you. You didn’t go running with Curt today because you don’t want to sweat out this straightness. You’re always battling to make your hair do what it wasn’t meant to do. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There’s something very lazy about the way you have loved him blindly for so long without ever criticizing him. You’ve never even accepted that the man is ugly,’ Kainene said. There was a small smile on her face and then she was laughing, and Olanna could not help but laugh too, because it was not what she had wanted to hear and because hearing it had made her feel better. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There are people who dislike you because you do not dislike yourself. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If you start thinking about being likable you are not going to tell your story honestly. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The educated ones leave, the ones with the potential to right the wrongs. They leave the weak behind. The tyrants continue to reign because the weak cannot resist. Do you not see that it is a cycle? Who will break that cycle? – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Why must we always talk about race anyway? Can’t we just be human beings? And Professor Hunk replied – that is exactly what white privilege is, that you can say that. Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I am a strong believer in the ability of human beings to change for the better. I am a strong believer in trying to change what we are dissatisfied with. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I didn’t want to be apologetic about my love story, and I think to be willing to write about love you have to be willing to sound foolish. I wanted to write about foolish and goofy love and different relationships. I wanted to write about interracial relationships in a way that does not pretend as if race does not exist. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The only reason race matters is because of racism. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

He was already looking at their relationship through the lens of the past tense. It puzzled her, the ability of romantic love to mutate, how quickly a loved one could become a stranger. Where did the love go? Perhaps real love was familial, somehow, linked to blood, since love for children did not die as romantic love did. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Our society teaches a woman at a certain age who is unmarried to see it as a deep personal failure. While a man at a certain age who is unmarried has not quite come around to making his pick. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have many problems in my life, but I don’t think that identity is one of them. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I think my first general rule is that most of my experiences are not that interesting. It’s usually other people’s experiences. It’s not that entirely conscious. Somebody tells me a story or, you know, repeats an anecdote that somebody else told them and I just feel like I have to write it down so I don’t forget that means for me, something made it fiction-worthy. Interesting things never happen to me, so maybe two or three times when they do, I have to use them, so I write them down. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Because I am female, I’m expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I’m in a good mood I like to cook. But I don’t like saying it in public because I find myself being resentful of the idea; Now you will make a good wife. You can cook, right? So, when people ask me I go, No, I don’t like cooking! – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Lasting love has to be built on mutual regard and respect. It is about seeing the other person. I am very interested in relationships and, when I watch couples, sometimes I can sense a blindness has set in. They have stopped seeing each other. It is not easy to see another person. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Of course, I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Some people ask: Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that? Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general-but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We teach girls shame; close your legs, cover yourself, we make them feel as though by being born female they’re already guilty of something. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

You can’t write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?’ Aunty Ifeka said. ‘Your life belongs to you and you alone. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

She could not complain about not having shoes when the person she was talking to had no legs. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size… It seemed so natural, to talk to him about odd things. She had never done that before. The trust, so sudden and yet so complete, and the intimacy, frightened her… But now she could think only of all the things she yet wanted to tell him, wanted to do with him. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

She wanted to ask him why they were all strangers who shared the same last name. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Culture does not make people. People make culture. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

How stories are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told — are really dependent on power. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The novels I love, the ones I remember, the ones I re-read, have an empathetic human quality, or ’emotional truth’. This quality is difficult to fully define, but I always recognize it when I see it: it is different from honesty and more resilient than fact, something that exists not in the kind of fiction that explains but in the kind that shows. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The idea that sex is something a woman gives a man, and she loses something when she does that, which again for me is nonsense. I want us to raise girls differently where boys and girls start to see sexuality as something that they own, rather than something that a boy takes from a girl. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem acknowledge that. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Show a people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Death would be a complete knowingness, but what frightened him was this: not knowing beforehand what it was he would know. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I am a bit of a fundamentalist when it comes to black women’s hair. Hair is hair – yet also about larger questions: self-acceptance, insecurity and what the world tells you is beautiful. For many black women, the idea of wearing their hair naturally is unbearable. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I am interested in challenging the mainstream ideas of what is beautiful and what is acceptable. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you will threaten the man.’ Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices, always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now, marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Your life belongs to you and you alone. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

You deserve to take up space. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Privilege blinds, because it’s in its nature to blind. Don’t let it blind you too often. Sometimes you will need to push it aside in order to see clearly. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

At some point I was a Happy African Feminist who does not hate men. And who likes lip gloss and who wears high heels for herself but not for men. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’m very feminist in the way I look at the world, and that worldview must somehow be part of my work. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We do not just risk repeating history if we sweep it under the carpet, we also risk being myopic about our present. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming. I am deeply dissatisfied – about so many things, about injustice, about the way the world works – and in some ways, my dissatisfaction drives my storytelling. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If the government doesn’t fund education, which they often don’t, students are going to stay home and not go to school. It affects them directly. But I’m really not interested in writing explicitly about that. I’m really interested in human beings, and in love, and in family. Somehow, politics comes in. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Papa sat down at the table and poured his tea from the china tea set with pink flowers on the edges. I waited for him to ask Jaja and me to take a sip, as he always did. A love sip, he called it, because you shared the little things you loved with the people you love. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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