From the BBC:
Thousands of people across social media have been posting about Nigeria’s literary heritage after a journalist asked acclaimed writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie if there were any bookshops in her country.
Journalist Caroline Broue asked Adichie if people read her books in Nigeria. Adichie replied, “They do, shockingly.”
Broue then asked: “Are there any bookshops in Nigeria?”
The author of Americanah and Purple Hibiscus replied: “I think it reflects very poorly on French people that you have to ask me that question.
I’m not sure why it should reflect poorly on French people that a solitary journalist asked if there were bookshops in a country where the traffic lights barely work and you can’t drink the tapwater.
I confess, I don’t recall seeing any bookshops in Nigeria, but I daresay they exist. The closest I got to one was a book stall in the corner of the waiting area of Port Harcourt airport, which was stocked in its entirety with religious books, self-help manuals, and combinations of the two. Titles like God and Your Business and Success Through Worship were typical, and something the expats noticed was if you saw someone reading a book it was a good bet that it was the bible.
Some wished to remind people of Nigeria’s literary heritage, by citing writers and poets such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Ben Orki.
I don’t see why French people should know these authors any more than a Nigerian should know of Johnny Hallyday. Perhaps a journalist should have known better, but then…well, she’s a journalist, isn’t she?
But the question ‘are there bookshops in Nigeria’ was not about that. It was about giving legitimacy to a deliberate, entitled, tiresome, sweeping, base ignorance about Africa. And I do not have the patience for that.
One solution is to stay well clear of ignorant foreigners, particularly those invited to ask questions at cultural evenings hosted by the French government. I don’t suppose anyone forced her to attend.