Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the fifth of six children, was born 15 Sept 1977, in the symbolic Nigerian city of Enugu. She was raised in the university town of Nsukka. While she was growing up, her father, James Nwoye Adichie (1932–2020), worked as a professor of statistics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Her mother, Grace Ifeoma (1942–2021), was the university’s first female registrar. They lived in a house on campus previously occupied by Chinua Achebe. The family lost almost everything during the Nigerian civil war, including her maternal and paternal grand parents. Her family’s ancestral village is Abba in Anambra State.
Adichie initially was studying medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. During this period, she edited, The Compass, a magazine run by the university’s catholic medical students.
At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria for the United States to study communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) to be near her sister Uche, who had a medical practice in Coventry, Connecticut.
She received a bachelor’s degree from ECSU, summa cum laude, in 2001. In 2003, Adichie completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. Adichie was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005–2006 academic year. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University. Also in 2008, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She received a 2011– 2012 fellowship by Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and In 2018, Duke University in the United States awarded her an honourary degree.
In May 2021, Adichie released a memoir based on her father’s death titled Notes on Grief, based on an essay of the same title published in The New Yorker in September, 2020. As described by the reviewer for The Independent, “Her words put a welcome, authentic voice to this most universal of emotions, which are also one of the most universally avoided.”
Later that year, open, Country Mag, noted in a cover story about Adichie’s legacy: “Every one of her novels, in expanding her subject matter, broke down a wall in publishing. Purple Hibiscus proved that there was an international market for African realist fiction post- Chinua Achebe. Half of a Yellow Sun showed that this particular market could care about African histories. The novels say, we can be specific in storytelling.
In April 2022, Adiche’s first children’s book, titled “Mama’s Sleeping Scarf”, dedicated to her daughter, was announced for release in autumn 2023. In 2009, Adichie married Ivara Esege, a Nigerian doctor. They have one daughter, who was born in 2016.
In 2019, the award-winning author joined the short list of receipiants, honoured by the prestigious Yale University as she was conferred with the Doctors of Letters, Honoris Causa.
It didn’t end there, she went on to speak at the school as part of the 2019 class. Chimamanda Adichie keeps adding more feathers to her already overflowing cap and we can’t but admire her passion and zeal in
The 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi took to his X platform (formerly Twitter), on Friday to praise Adichie on her birthday.
Obi wrote: “My very dear sister and Internationally renowned author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, @ChimamandaReal, I rejoice with and congratulate you today on your birthday anniversary. I celebrate the many achievements you have made on the global stage, and especially, for following the path of sincerity and integrity in your life’s journey. Your courageous voice of truth has continued to resonate in our nation and beyond.”
Her writing ability, like her mentor, is yet to be equaled. Among her publications include 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” and her story “That Harmattan Morning” was selected as a joint winner of the 2002 BBC World Service Short Story Awards. In 2003, she won the O. Henry Award for “The American Embassy”, and the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award). Her stories were also published in Zoetrope: All-Story, and Topic Magazine.
Adichie has also written so many interesting works which includes; Half of a yellow sun, Purple hibiscus, The thing around your neck, Americana, We should all be feminists, Dear Ijeawele and many others.
As a pride to Igbos, Nigerians and Africans in general, as a rare gift to humanity and this generation in particular, ioiNEWS joins the rest of the world in celebrating her as she turns 46 years young, wishing her many luminous years ahead
IMAGE: Calvin centre for faith and writing