“Zikora” is a short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The narrative revolves around the eponymous character’s pregnancy. When the story starts, Zikora is at the hospital and in labor. Her stern mother is with her. The mother disapproves of Zikora’s decision to get an epidural injection. “I was disgracing her now,” says Zikora, “I was not facing labor with laced-up dignity.”
As she is an esteemed lawyer in Washington DC, Zikora’s life can be compared and contrasted to the life of her mom and her cousin Mmiliaku. All three women have made difficult choices. Mmiliaku marries a boorish man so that she can enter “the world of adults.” Despite owning two private schools in Nigeria, Zikora’s mom tolerates her husband’s second wife. Meanwhile, Zikora opts to have a baby on her own.
Through flashbacks, the reader learns about Zikora’s relationship with the father of her baby, Kwame. They met at a book party on a roof in Washington. Zikora is intrigued by how Kwame departs from the prototypical “single, straight, successful Black men in Washington, DC.” Kwame is caring and open, but he doesn’t want to have a baby.
Kwame and Zikora are complex characters. They have their faults and imperfections, which are displayed through dialogue and text messages. Indeed, technology has a notable role in the story, with Zikora video chatting with her father after the birth.
Another element of the story to analyze is the upward mobility of people from minority groups. Zikora is from Nigeria, Kwame’s father is a Ghanian immigrant, and the doctor is Iranian. All three characters managed to find solid jobs in the United States.