Author Spotlight On Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Perhaps the most celebrated African writer on the continent today, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a woman whose wealth of talent has not gone unnoticed. From her success in the publishing industry to her strides in the field of public speaking, she has made a name for herself. She is known all over the world for her unmatched achievements. However, not many can claim much knowledge about the woman behind all the acclaim. Hence, the need for us to shine a spotlight on the parts of her life which some might not be too familiar with.


Born on the 15th of September in Enugu, Nigeria as the fifth of six children, Adichie was raised by two high-ranking members of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Growing up in a family which held literacy in such high esteem, she was easily drawn to the allure of books. However, this did not necessarily translate to a desire for a career in writing as she opted to study Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Nigeria. This did not last for long though; at age 19, after less than two years of study, she moved to the United States, where she enrolled in Drexel University, Philadelphia for a degree in communications. She graduated summa cum laude in 2001. During this time, she had published two little-known books: a play and a poetry collection. She also got nominated for the Caine Prize which was still in its nascent years.

Chinua Achebe

Photo accessed via Daily Time NG

Adichie’s Rise to Fame

After bagging a master’s degree in creative writing from the John Hopkins University in 2003, her literary pursuit was kicked into high gear. That year, her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus was released to overwhelmingly positive acclaim, bagging numerous international awards. This was followed by the two novels which are often points of debate as to which is her magnum opus – Half of A Yellow Sun and Americanah.
Half of A Yellow Sun is a painful recollection of the events of the Biafran War, humanized by the simple stories of everyday characters whose lives are complicated by the senseless genocides and displacement rampant during such wars. The novel was hailed by many as the modern equivalent of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for its eloquent prose and immersive storytelling. It was made into a movie starring Oscar nominee, Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Americanah came seven years later in 2013 as the bold, fierce meditation on race and class relations in post-9/11 America. Its unwavering voice and deft technique earned it a global attention. It was recently chosen by book readers all over New York and Maryland as their favourite book to be recommended for all readers, from a long list of several internationally-acclaimed books from numerous nationalities. The novel is being made into a movie by Brad Pitt, with Oscar-winner, Lupita Nyong’o set to play the lead role.


“The Danger of a Single Story”

In less than three years after Adiche published her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, she had a grand entrance into global relevance with an engaging speech at TED. She exposed the precariousness associated with believing a single story about a person, a country, and a continent. The talk went viral in 2009 and has raked over 3 million views on YouTube as at the time of publishing this piece. She told the story of how she found her authentic voice while reading the works of other great writers. Adichie made the world see Africa in a new light and shattered the partition of misunderstanding existing between African literature and the Western world.


“We Should All Be Feminists”

In 2012, Adichie gave a talk at a TEDx event, discussing gender and appropriation in the African cultural landscape. The speech was a reverberating discourse on the way society easily pigeonholes individuals based on predefined gender constraints. The speech gained additional attention after multi-Grammy-winning American pop star, Beyoncé used samples of the speech in her feminist song, Flawless. The speech is considered today to be a starting-point for many discussions on feminism.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Photograph accessed via Flickr

The speech gained additional attention after multi-Grammy-winning American pop star, Beyoncé used samples of the speech in her feminist song, Flawless.


Adichie’s international relevance elevates her to the point of almost being unequalled in the past few years. But she does have a number of contemporaries whose work exist within the same calibre as hers: Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, Teju Cole, Camara Laye and so on.


Adichie has won over 20 international literary prizes; including the Henry O. Prize, Commonwealth Writers Award: First Book, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, American National Book Critics Circle Award and so on.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Photograph accessed via Flickr

Published Works


  • Purple Hibiscus – 2003
  • Half of A Yellow Sun – 2006
  • Americanah – 2013

Short Stories

  • Checking Out – 2013
  • Apollo – 2015
  • Arrangers of Marriage – 2016


  • We Should All Be Feminists – 2014
  • Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

As we conclude, it is worthy to note that Adichie recently turned 40 in September but her excellent strides on and off the page within 15 years of active writing speaks volume. Her gigantic profile cannot be fully captured in this article but this is a summary of her unique sojourn in the world of letters.

Now, it’s your turn to share your thoughts. What is it that inspires you about the Adichie? Let us know in the comments section below.


Kanyinsola Olorunnisola is a poet, essayist and writer of fiction. He is the Managing Editor of Kreative Diadem. He writes from Ibadan, Nigeria. His writings border on the themes of unease, racism, colonialism, terror and all things familiar to the black folk. He describes his art as that specialized literary alchemy which aims to extract beauty from the frail commonplaceness of words.
His experimental works have appeared or are forthcoming on such platforms as Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, Bombay Review, Lunaris Review, African Writer,, Authorpedia, Kreative Diadem, Parousia Magazine and Sampad International Journal. He was the 2016 recipient of the Albert Jungers Poetry Prize.


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