What story from her childhood does Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tell in We Should All Be Feminists?
In We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses growing up in Nigeria. When she was younger, she attended a primary school in Nsukka, a town in southeastern Nigeria. At the beginning of the term, Adichie’s teacher announced that there would be a test for the class. Whoever scored highest on this test would become the class monitor. The class monitor was a coveted position because you were allowed to write down the names of students who were being disruptive and because you were given a cane to hold (though the students were not allowed to actually use it). In short, class monitor was a position of power and it seemed very appealing to young Adichie. After the test, Adichie learned that she had gotten the highest score in the class; however, the coveted class monitor position was given to the second-highest scorer, a boy. When Adichie spoke to the teacher, the teacher explained that the monitor had to be a boy, something she thought was so obvious that she hadn’t bothered to clarify it earlier. Adichie notes that the boy who got the position was nice and mild-mannered and, unlike young Adichie, did not really have any interest in policing his fellow students’ behavior. Even as an adult, the memory of this unfair incident has stuck with Adichie. She uses it to make the point that when we repeat patterns over and over again, we start to think that things have to be this way. As boys were appointed to the class monitor position again and again, Adichie’s teacher began to think that only boys could hold this position.