I’m sure many of us only recognize the name Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie due to the 2014 Beyoncé song Flawless. I myself was guilty of this, I liked the song and all, very catchy but the hype about the song has faded (except to true Beyoncé fans).
What has stuck though and has become a powerful reminder of how some women have become molded by the world’s ideas over time. ‘Adichie relays it well when she says, ‘”that women should relate everything they do to men” (qtd by Blake). The song is what made me aware of her but it is her message that made me an enthusiast of her work.
The well-known quote used in the Beyoncé song was taken from Adichie’s TED talk, from her book We Should All Be Feminist:
About Adichie’s early years:
She was born on 15 September 1977 into an Igbo family in the university town of Nsukka in Enugu State. During the Nigerian Civil War, the family lost almost everything including maternal and paternal grandfathers. She completed her high school education at University of Nigeria Secondary School, Nsukka and went on to study medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half.
During her time at university she edited a magazine run by the university’s Catholic medical students, called The Compass. From Drexel University she transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University to be near her sister Uche, who had a medical practice in Coventry, Connecticut. There she studied communications and political sciences. (Wikipedia)
Later Years and Literary Works:
When Adichie arrived in America , it was then that she was struck by the reality of being identified by the colour of her skin. A difference that was not apparent growing up in Nigeria as it was being a person of colour in America. And it is in her 2013 novel, Americanah, where she writes about this contrast.
Americanah is told through the eyes of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who immigrates to the United States to attend university. ‘”Ifemelu’s identity crisis as a specific experience– one of a privileged Nigerian whose “blackness,” for the first time in her life, becomes the primary vehicle for how she is perceived. Adichie uses Ifemelu’s internal conflict to convey the novel’s message that lasting contentment is often found in the most conventional places.” (Schumate’s Book Project)
In 2001, Chimamanda received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Connecticut State University. And 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.
During 2005-2006, Adichie was a Princeton University Hodder Fellow. This fellowship is for for Artists and Writers of Exceptional Promise. In 2008 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. This fellowship is awarded to an individual working in any field, who have shown “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction” and are citizens or residents of the United States. (Wikipedia)
She was also awarded a 2011–2012 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. Which is a fellowship designed to support scholars, scientists, artists, and writers of exceptional promise and demonstrated accomplishments who wish to pursue work in academic and professional fields and in the creative arts. (Wikipedia)
“the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [which] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”According to Wikipedia, an excerpt in the Times Literary Supplement
Notable works include
(All her works are notable in my opinion).
Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus. was published in 2003. For this novel she was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in 2005.
Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, was adapted into a 2013 film of the same name. The film stars Chiwetel Ejifor and Thandie Newton as the main characters.
Her third novel Americanah, published in 2013, is an exploration of a young Nigerian encountering race in America and was selected by The New York Times as one of “The 10 Best Books of 2013”.
In 2012, Adichie gave a TEDx talk which was titled, “We should all be feminists” and snippets of this lecture was featured on the Beyoncé song, “Flawless”.
Blake, Liza. “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Speaks Out on Being Featured on Beyonce’s ‘****Flawless'”. Billboard, 10 Oct 2016: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7534428/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-beyonce-flawless-interview/
“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Oct. 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimamanda_Ngozi_Adichie
Post #7: The Message of Americanah”. Shumate’s Book Project. 05 November 2017. https://shumatebookproject.weebly.com/blog/category/all
‘”MacArthur Fellows Program”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Oct. 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacArthur_Fellows_Program
‘”Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 July 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radcliffe_Institute_for_Advanced_Study.
“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.” Digital Image. CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE, Web. 1 Nov. 2020, http://www.chimamanda.com/
Tunca, Daria. Covers of the Books written by Adichie. Digital Image. The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Website. The University of Liège, 9 October 2020. Web. 1 Nov 2020, http://www.cerep.ulg.ac.be/adichie/index.html