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The Africa Freedom Speech and Award, 2020

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom awarded Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie the Africa Freedom Prize for 2020 in a virtual event on 14 December 2020.

In her award-winning works, Adichie relentlessly addresses the central social grievances and political challenges of our time. As one of the most important intellectual champions of women’s rights, she inspires people around the world in their pursuit of freedom.

Professor Karl-Heinz Paqué, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, explains: “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the long-lost, undogmatic voice of liberal feminism in the 21st century. She represents the success and self-image of a new generation of African women writers who are increasingly making their voices heard on the world literary stage. In her fight for freedom and self-determination for women, Adichie contributes to the consolidation of liberal values ​​and goals – not only in Africa, but all over the world.”

“I very much appreciate the honour of the Africa Freedom Prize. It is always gratifying to be recognised, and particularly so in this case, to join the good company of others who share my commitment to our beloved continent,” said Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her reply.

In her acceptance speech, “What if we raised the bar for men?”, Adichie focused primarily on the issue of male violence towards women.

“All over the world today, women are beaten, raped and murdered by men. These women would not suffer this kind of violence if they were not women. Yes, men suffer violence, but it is overwhelmingly women who suffer from the violence.” 

Adichie went on to make reference to the language used in describing violence towards women by men.

“Terms such as gender-based violence, violence by whom?” she asked, noting a recent United Nations statistic according to which, on average, 137 women are killed by a family member daily. “What this doesn’t say is that the perpetrator is often a male family member. It is no longer enough to criticise, it is time to think about alternatives and possibilities. There is a lot of focus on women who are the victims but there isn’t enough time focused on the perpetrators of the crimes. And so, what if we raised the bar for men?

Together with the host of the event, South African journalist and media personality Redi Tlhabi, Adichie explored issues including how toxic masculinity is showing its true face in the Western political space, how the languages of culture and the practices of tradition undermine the female anatomy, and why African political leaders often choose quiet diplomacy when society calls for change in specific countries.

The event recording is available online on all the FNF Africa digital media platforms and includes a special musical performance by Zolani Mahola.

More about the laureate: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in 1977 as the fifth of six children in the Nigerian university town of Nsukka. At the age of 19, she moved to the United States to study communications and political science, where she graduated from Princeton University and Yale University. Today Adichie is one of the great voices in world literature. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Hermann Hesse Prize. Her lectures “We should all be feminists” and “The danger of a single story” are among the most watched TED talks. Adichie’s work has been translated into 37 languages. She lives in Lagos and the USA.

More about the Africa Freedom Prize: The Africa Freedom Prize, inaugurated by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in 2016, honours outstanding personalities who provide decisive impulses for the development of liberal civil society in African countries. The previous winners are Mmusi Maimane, Bobi Wine, Gareth Cliff and Hakainde Hichilema. DM


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