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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - One of Africa’s Greatest Modern Writers

Dec 07, 2020 08:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
chimamanda ngozi

Born in Enugu, Nigeria on September 15, 1977, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and grew up as the fifth of six children in an Igbo family. Sadly, her family lost almost everything during the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s. She grew up a very avid reader and found Things Fall Apart by novelist and fellow Igbo Chinua Achebe transformative. Although, her family's ancestral hometown is Abba, Adichie grew up in Nsukka where her father worked at the University of Nigeria as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and her mother was the first female registrar at the same institution.

Adichie went on to study medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria and then at 19 years old, she left for the United States to study communications at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Adichie went on to pursue a degree in communications and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University, where she graduated summa cum laude and before completing a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. Coming from an academically strong family, Adichie has certainly made her family proud having received honorary degrees from The University of Edinburgh, Haverford College, and Université de Fribourg, Switzerland, in 2019.


It was during her last year at Eastern Connecticut State University that she began working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was released in October 2003. The book has received wide critical acclaim and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (Overall) and Best First Book (Africa). Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun was published in 2006 and named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra. It is set before and during the Nigerian Civil War and received the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. This was her first novel to be adapted into a 2014 film and starred British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award-winner Chiwetel Ejiofor and BAFTA winner Thandie Newton.

Adichie was listed among the authors of The New Yorker's ‘20 Under 40’ Fiction Issue and her third novel Americanah, was selected by The New York Times as one of ‘The 10 Best Books of 2013’. Since her first novel, Adiche has grown in popularity and was invited to give a TED Talk in 2009. ‘The Danger of a Single Story’  is one of the most-viewed TED Talks of all time. In this TED Talk, Adichie expressed her concern for the underrepresentation of various cultures and explained that as a young child, she had often read American and British stories where the characters were primarily of Caucasian origin. "Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination and opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature,” said Adichie.

Adichie’s non-fiction work includes We Should All Be Feminists, an essay published that she later adapted into a speech she gave at TEDxEuston in 2012. This speech was famously featured in multi-award-winning singer Beyoncé’s song ‘Flawless.’ “For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed,” said Adichie in an interview with The Guardian. As a  recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Adichie divides her time between the United States and Nigeria, where she regularly teaches writing workshops.



Chimamanda Adichie

The Heroine Collective

The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Website


 Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies.  

She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.