Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist, non-fiction writer, short story writer and actress. As a seasoned Nigerian writer, she has been called “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors that is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”. She has been making Nigeria proud in the global scene with her various achievements of rare quality. You must have heard about this lady of substance but I bet there are a lot of things you never know about her. They’re right here with you and you can’t afford to miss them!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born on 15 September 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria. She is the fifth of six children to Igbo parents, Grace Ifeoma and James Nwoye Adichie. While the family’s ancestral hometown is Abba in Anambra State, Chimamanda grew up in Nsukka, in the house formerly occupied by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. Chimamanda’s father, who is now retired, worked at the University of Nigeria, located in Nsukka. He was Nigeria’s first professor of statistics, and later became Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University. Her mother was the first female registrar at the same institution.
Chimamanda completed her secondary education at the University of Nigeria’s secondary school, receiving several academic prizes. After this, she went on to study medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria but ran the program for just a year and six months. During this period, she edited The Compass, a magazine run by the university’s Catholic medical students. At age 19, she bagged a scholarship to study communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA. After a while, she transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University to be near her sister, who had a medical practice in Coventry. She received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Connecticut, with the distinction of summa cum laude in 2001, and in 2003, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University.
Later in 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University.
HER SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
Chimamanda’s original and initial inspiration came from Chinua Achebe. After reading late Prof. Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart,” at the age of 10, Adichie was inspired by seeing her own life represented in the pages. She once said, “I realized that people who looked like me could live in books.” Using that inspiration, Adichie has been writing about the Nigerian experience throughout her career.
As mentioned earlier, she grew up in the house where the great icon and author, Chinua Achebe once lived. This may have also contributed to her motivation and passion to write.
COLLECTIONS AND AWARDS
She is the author of three novels, Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013). She also wrote a short story collection, The Thing around Your Neck (2009). Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope. Her novel, Purple Hibiscus, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review, Best Book of the Year. Her latest novel Americanah, was published around the world in 2013, and has received numerous accolades, including winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction; and being named one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year.
She has received numerous awards and distinctions. Apart from the ones mentioned above, she was honoured with a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2008. In 2011/2012, Chimamanda was as well awarded a fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.
She consciously metamorphosed into a fashion icon
Adichie’s mother was always very concerned about her daughter’s appearance, and instilled the same value in her children. When Adichie first burst onto the writing scene in the U.S, she tried to dress more subdued in an attempt to be taken seriously, but soon realized that her personal style had the right to shine through. She once implied that life in America made her make conscious efforts to create an identity which reflected well in her fashion sense.
She insists everyone should be a Feminist
Adichie says on feminism and writing, “I think of myself as a storyteller, but I would not mind at all if someone were to think of me as a feminist writer… I’m very feminist in the way I look at the world, and that worldview must somehow be part of my work. It was in one of her renowned lectures delivered in 2012 that she made the statement, “We should all be feminists”.
She is married but prefers to be addressed as “Miss”
It does not cross the mind of a lot of people that this great woman is married. This may be attributed to the strange fact that she never dropped her maiden name, neither did she attach her husband’s name to it. Chimamanda is actually married to a US based Doctor husband, Dr. Ivara Esegee, whom she describes as Nigerian, American and British. More strangely, she never goes by the title “Mrs” and would never want to be addressed as such. She openly warned journalists sometime against that, stressing that it is western culture for a woman to abandon her name for her husband’s.
This could however be linked to her feminist nature and perception.
She was once called, “Conjurer of Character”
With a critical analysis of her works, it was discovered that the greatest power and skill she utilities is her ability to create characters. She is in fact a creator of characters who struggle profoundly to understand their place in the world.
Her novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” derives its name from the Biafran flag and has a film adaptation
The novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” is set before and during the Biafran war, and its title reflects the flag of the short-lived independent nation.
The film adaptation directed by Biyi Bandele, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”) and Thandie Newton.
She lives in Lagos and the U.S
Adichie loves Lagos, and that is why spends half her time there and the rest in the US. She loves the culture and the spirit of the city, the resilience and initiative of its people. This is what she said about Lagos:
‘People-watching is one of my favourite things. And the best people-watching happens in Lagos. I love to sit in traffic when I’m in a good mood and watch everyone. There’s a lot of hustling, a striving spirit in people, from the drivers and mechanics to the doctors and lawyers.”