Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Michele Obama talks about growing up, relationship with Barack in conversation with Chimamanda Adichie

Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama sat in conversation with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at The Royal Festival Hall, London on December 03.

The conversation covered Obama’s early life and career, her reinvention of the role of First Lady, and her ongoing activities since leaving the White House.

The former First Lady was in London to discuss her memoir, Becoming. Which has become the best-selling book released this year, selling over 2 million copies already.
Mrs Obama was introduced on the stage by Adichie to a soundtrack of Alicia Key’s "Girl on Fire". 
The wit, camaraderie and mutual appreciation that existed between Obama and Adichie made it difficult to believe that these two women had never met before the event.

Michele spoke warmly and candidly about her life growing up in a tiny apartment with her family on the south side of Chicago where she was encouraged by her parents to use her voice: "My parents believed my voice was relevant, that was the gift they gave me. You have to value a girl and let her speak". 

She was also open about her relationship with Barack saying, "He doesn’t play games. That’s a very attractive quality". To which Adichie looked into the audience and said, "See, love doesn’t have to be painful!". 
In a video shown prior to his wife being introduced to the stage, the former president reflected on the early days of trying to woo his wife. "Michelle was a tough customer. I viewed it as a challenge; like Excalibur where only one person can remove the sword. That was me."

There was a tearful moment in the evening when Mrs Obama spoke about the untimely death of her father, "It’s an emptiness I still haven’t gotten over".

The mood was a different type of sober when she addressed the issues women of colour face in society and how she was demonised as an "angry black woman".

"It’s all in chapter 17 of the book. That was the hardest chapter for me to write. People will literally take our voices, they will take the things from us they like – they will take our hips - because all of a sudden it’s in – our style, our swagger, it becomes co-opted but then we are penalised, we are ‘angry’ we are too loud, we are too everything. And I experienced that, just by having an opinion, how dare I have a voice and use it’. It was a ‘don’t reach too high, don’t be too loud.’ You just have to slay the dragon in your own mind."

Credit: Vogue UK

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