Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in September 15, 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria. She is the fifth of six children. She was raised in Nsukka near the University of Nigeria. Her father, James Nwoye Adichie, was a professor of the statistics and later became the deputy vice-chancellor of the University. Her mother, Ifeoma Adichie, became the first female registrar at the University. She is of Igbo descent and her ancestral home is in Abba, Anambra state Nigeria.
Adichie studied medicine and pharmacy at the university of Nigeria for a year and a half just to satisfy her father. Irrespective of the fact that she wasn’t voluntarily studying medicine, she was still an A student who often butted heads with her teachers. Despite her reputation, she received several academic awards. She soon dropped out to pursue her dream of the becoming a writer. When she was 19, she left Nigeria on a schorlarship to Drexel University in Philadephia. She studied communication at Drexel and earned a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University. She graduated Summa cum Laude in 2001. In 2003, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University. She was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University during the 200-06 academic year. In 2008 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She has also been awarded a 2011-2012 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.
Adichie published a collection of poems in 1997 (Decisions) and a play (for love of Biafra) in 1998. She was shortlisted in 2002 for the Caine Prize for her short story ‘You in America.’ In 2003, her story ‘That Harmattan Morning’ was selected as a joint winner of the BBC short Awards, and she won the O. Henry Prize for ‘The American Embassy’. Her first novel, Purble Hibiscus (2003), received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and was awarded the commonwealth writer’s prize for Best First Book (2005)
Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Half of a yellow Sun has been adapted into a film of the same title directed by Biyi Bandele, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandi Newton. It was released in 2014. Her third book, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of short stories. In 2013, she published her third novel, Americanah which was selected by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of 2013. Chimamanda’s 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.
Adichie credits Chinua Achebe, the late Igbo author of Nigerian masterwork ‘Things fall apart’ with her literary success. After reading his book at 10 years old, she realized that people who looked like her could exist in books. Her desire to write was sparked by his work. Adichie tries to combat the image of Africans as portrayed by western media. Choosing to write first from her experience as an affluent and educated Nigerian, she was often criticized for shying away from the ‘real’ Africa. As reflected in her writing voice, Adichie is a staunch feminist and uses her work as a way to work through the misogyny and condescension she has faced as an African woman in the global literary community.
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 world view must somehow be part of my work.
She spoke on ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ for TED in 2009 which was absolutely amazing. It’s a talk I would definitely recommend you listen to and maybe I will post it soon. In December 2012, she spoke about being a feminist on TEDXEuston entitled ‘We should all be feminists’. In that speech, she shared her experiences of being an African Feminist, and her views on gender construction and sexuality. She believes the problem with gender is that it shapes who we are’. In 2013, her speech was sampled by Beyonce, in her song ‘Flawless’.
My junior sister Oyinda, after reading Purple Hibiscus told me she realized something: ‘Unlike most writers, young writers atleast, Chimamanda did not start as an amateur’ and I could not have agreed more. I first heard about her in JJS3 when I read ‘Purble Hibiscus’, a book I found to be brilliant as topics such as abuse that we don’t really talk about as Africans was talked about in the book. It also read well and I wondered how many books this fierceless writer had written. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that was her first book. A book that evoked strong emotions and spoke fiercelessly about things we have been taught to keep quiet about, a book that challenged some of our beliefs as Africans and I would go on to anticipate the release of her other books, books that I found to be equally brilliant. Although my best work by her yet is Americannah! That novel is ….. WOW! I read it and I fell in love and I couldn’t help but write a review, my first book review ever.
Chimamanda 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’ but she had to obviously groom herself before she could be recognized by the world. Darling, whatever talent you have, start working on it now. Don’t compare yourself to others but only work on being better than yourself. Did you know for her first novel, purple Hibiscus, the manuscript was rejected by many agents as they told her nobody cared about Nigeria but she persisted. Same way you should persist and make sure your dream comes through.2