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30 Interesting Things About Chimamanda Adichie

Yes, you know she is one of Nigeria’s best writers and she has won a lot of prizes. Love her or hate her, you simply cannot ignore her. But did you also know that:

1. She briefly studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka before leaving to study communications (Eastern Connecticut State University) and creative writing from Johns Hopkins University.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Naijarchives 10
2. She was born on the 15th September, 1977. That makes her 36 years old even though she looks every bit 25! But she doesn’t find that funny all the time, she said: “I know, I look about 18. Actually, it can be a bit irritating. People don’t always take you seriously.” But I guess the world is taking her really serious now.

3. Her dad, James Nwoye Adichie, is Nigeria’s first professor of statistics who later became the deputy vice-chancellor of UNN while her mum, Grace Ifeoma Adichie, is a university registrar, the first female in the institution (UNN). Now, you can see the genes at work. Yelz, her sister is a medical doctor.

4. She was born in Enugu State, the coal state of Nigeria.

5. Her latest book is titled ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’. Her other ones include the Purple Hibiscus and yes, you gerrit, Half of a Yellow Sun.

6. Tah! Don’t go there at all! She is happily married. Even though she once described marriage as a ‘dangerous’ institution for women. Her husband is a doctor based in Maryland, United States. She describes him as a ‘Nigerian, American and British’. She shuttles between the US and Nigeria. How sweet! And obviously, she doesn’t want much noise made about that. But trust Abiyamo to tell you a bit about her husband. He is Dr. Ivara Alistair Esege, MD of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland. He attended the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka.

7. She is the fifth of six children and grew up in a house that was once used by Nigeria’s master writer and one of Africa’s very best writers, Chinua Achebe. I think I need to rent a room in that house too o!

8. Her middle name is Ngozi. It means ‘blessing’. As for ‘Chimamanda’ it means ‘My God is unfailing’ or ‘My God never fails me’.

9. She read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart at the age of 10. Okay, what was I doing at the age of 10 o? Rolling tyres all over the street! By seven, she was already writing. Now, you don’t want to know what I was doing at that age.

10.  She grew up reading Enid Blyton, okay, we share that trait…lol!

11.  Her paternal grandfather died in a refugee camp during the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970. These experiences would later influence her writing style. Her book, Half of a Yellow Sun actually took its name from the Biafran flag.

12.  She says she is always thinking about death, and for her, love and death come hand in hand.

13. She also said: “This may sound slightly mythical, but I sometimes feel as if my writing is something bigger than I am.”

14. Her dad actually dropped out of school when his family could no longer pay his school fees. He did some work as a sanitary inspector and was later able to sponsor himself for private Cambridge exams which he passed.

15. In 2008, she won the MacArthur Genius Grant of $500,000 with 24 other recipients, that’s cool half a million!

16. She’s a Catholic.

  1. Her father hailed from a village called Abba in Anambra State, southeastern Nigeria.
  2. While she was a student at the University of Nigeria, she was the editor of The Compass, a school magazine operated by the campus Catholic medical students.
  3. In 2001, she finished from the Eastern Connecticut State University with the highest honours, after studying communication and political science.
  4. As far back as 1997, she released a collection of poems titled Decisions. The following year, she wrote a play, For Love of Biafra.
  5. In 2011, she was included in the Best American Short Stories. In 2013, New York Timesselected her third novel, Americanah, was named as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013.
  6. In December 2013, her talk on feminists at TEDxEuston (We Should All Be Feminists) in December 2012 was sampled by Beyoncé in her song, Flawless.
  7. She has been nominated as the MTV Africa Music Awards Personality of the Year 2014.
  8. In June 2014, she voiced out against the foreign intervention regarding the missing 200 Chibok girls. She said: “Now we have American drones helping us in this forest and even the French have sent in people – shouldn’t they be fixing their own economy? We can solve our own damn problems. I’m sure that there are hunters in that area who know that forest very well. Why haven’t they been used? Why aren’t we depending on them? What we need is a better equipped military, a better trained military: we don’t need Americans to send people in. This is my Nigerian nationalist rant”.
  1. Her famous quotes:
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‘A man who will be intimated by me is exactly the type of man I will not have interest in.’

 

“Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.”

‘Hair is quite political for black women.’

 

“Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.”

 

“I often make the mistake of thinking that something that is obvious to me is obvious to everyone else.”

 

“Show a people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.’’

 

“Our histories cling to us. We are shaped by where we come from.”

 

“[My college roommate] asked if she could listen to what she called my ‘tribal music,’ and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey.”

 

“His advice to me, and he was shaking his head sadly as he spoke, was that I should never call myself a feminist because feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands.”

 

“A student told me it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had recently read a novel called American Psycho, and that it was a shame that young Americans were serial murderers. “

 

“At some point I was a happy African feminist who does not hate men. And who likes lip gloss. And who wears high heels for herself but not for men.”

 

In an interview in 2003, she said: “I didn’t ever consciously decide to pursue writing. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to spell, and just sitting down and writing made me feel incredibly fulfilled.”

 

“Because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye … I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature.”

 

“About 52% of the world’s population is female. But most of the positions of power and prestige are occupied by men. The late Kenyan Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai put it simply and well when she said ‘The higher you go, the fewer women there are.’”

 

  1. She has a very long string of awards: BBC Short Story Competition Award (2002), David T. Wong International Short Story Prize (PEN America Centre Award, 2002/2003), O. Henry Prize (2003), Hurston-Wright Legacy Award (2004, this prize was the first national award given to Black American writers), Commonwealth Writers Prize (2005), Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (2007 for her Half of a Yellow Sun, given to books that promote the understanding of racism and diversity, Wole Soyinka won this same prize in 1983 for Ake: The Years of Childhood and again in 2012, as the Lifetime Achievement Award, will Adichie become the second Nigerian Nobel Laureate? Other notable winners of this prize were Martin Luther King Jnr in 1959, Oprah Winfrey in 2010 (Lifetime Achievement), Ayaan Hirsi Ali in 2008, Derek Walcott in 2004 (Lifetime Achievement Award), Tony Morrison with Nadine Gordimer in 1988 and Alex Haley in 1966). But is that all to her prizes and awards? No, not at all. She also won the PEN Beyond Margins Award and the Orange Broadband Prize in 2007, the Reader’s Digest Author of the Year Award, Young Person of the Year (Nigeria Future Awards) and the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 2008. In 2013, she clinched the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award. If there is any Nigerian lady to watch out for, it is CNA.
  2. She had her high school education at the University of Nigeria Secondary School and left for the United States of America at the age of 19 “to be closer to my sister”.
  3. She is against Nigeria’s anti-homosexual laws.
  4. She has questioned the very idea of the society thinking a woman who is not married should not be respected.
  5. She has been listed by Forbes as one of the most influential Africans.

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