On October 27, 2020, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie released her first work of fiction since Americanah breaking the internet and creating an anticipation like never before.
Zikora is a 35-page short story about the eponymous character, a Washington DC’s lawyer from Nigeria who is abandoned by her lover when she discovers she is pregnant.
Zikora is many things in those thirty-five pages. It discusses the fear of black women in maternity, the concerns of an unmarried man when his partner tells him she’s pregnant, the misunderstandings that occur because we assume in relationships, what men don’t know or understand about women’s bodies, the lingering desire for a male child, marriage, how mothers hold great expectations for their daughters, the problems of polygamy and many other issues in a typical Nigerian’s life. Even though Zikora is a successful lawyer in America, she is not protected from the high expectations of her Nigerian mother and family.
Zikora discusses many things in a short read of thirty-five pages. While this is good, as the read flows and we see our characters and how their lives intertwine, it ends up being a pot of soup with too many ingredients. We have to see this theme and that theme and then that theme, all in a short time. The good in this is that as alwaysAdichie gives us excellent storytelling in that we are not bored even if we can see through that the piece is a propaganda even when it tries to conceal that fact.
While we are charmed by Kwame and Zikora’s relationship before it goes south, we are also made to realise that not all that glitters is gold and nothing really lasts forever. We can and can’t fault Kwame all at the same time and same goes for Zikora. This makes us understand the importance of communication in a relationship.
Like most of Adichie’s works, we are opened to the life of women through Zikora, her cousin Mmiliaku, her mother, and her stepmother, Aunty Nwanneka, as we follow their different journeys. Zikora feels a lot like Americanah in some way. The Nigerian woman living in America. The love story. The black woman wanting to live on her own terms. However, even with these similarities, Zikora owns its space and its own message.
Yet, even with the awesome storytelling, at the end of these thirty-five pages, nothing really stays. You feel you’ve just read something beautiful and followed the life of an independent black woman struggling to find her footing with single parenthood, but that’s about that. In the end, it feels like it’s lacking something, not because of its cliffhanger ending (a CNA’s typical ending) but because something stays missing and you are not satisfied. Like a meal with every ingredient but salt. You end with the feeling of “Hey, I see what you did there, CNA” and that’s about that.
Zikora, as well as its audio version, is available on Amazon.