Abstract

This essay argues that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story “Headstrong Historian” offers a woman’s perspective on the Igbo encounter with European colonialism, a history made famous by Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart who told the story from a male perspective. Through her short story, Adichie enacts the dual-sex system that scholars argue is at the basis of Igbo societies: Adichie does this by telling the story from the perspective of her female protagonists. In the process, Adichie makes two points: firstly, there is not a single story about the Igbo past; secondly, European colonialism had significant negative repercussions for Igbo women. The women in Adichie’s short story—at least the non-Christian ones—are strong and independent individuals that take charge of their own lives. Adichie’s characterization of women in “Headstrong Historian” suggests that the intervention of Christianity and European rule had deleterious effects on Igbo women’s agency.

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