A star is said that to be a person of exceptional talent, charisma and intellect. Who is the ideal Nigerian star? One that can stand out conspicuously, sparkling, even in the midst of a million constellation of other brightly shining stars, is indeed a Nigerian star! This Nigerian star needs no introduction, as she is only a stranger to those who do not know her.
An elegant, intelligent, in-love-with-braids-and-beautifully-patterned-headwraps, a plenipotentiary of African authenticity, an Amazon female literary giant and a remarkable feminist; words are not just enough to describe her. She is no other person but- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Born, 15th September 1977, to the family of Prof. James and Mrs Grace Adichie (of Anambara descent) in the little University town of Nsukka. A town that has strongly influenced writers like Chinua Achebe, Chioma Unigwe and Ifeoma Okoye. To many young Nigerian, and I dare say, African writers like myself, while Achebe taught us to read and relish in the stories if our rich African ancestry, Adichie opened up a new phase in African and global literature. A phase where it is important to dwell on the stories of our past and at the same time broaden our creative horizon, chart a new course and fashion out contemporary stories that reflect on our present. This, in fact, is a new dawn in the face of African literature in particular and global literature in general.
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A rare blend of beauty and brains, that is what she is. One thing that strikes me about Adichie’s personality is its unique way of accentuating her cultural heritage using short stories, novels and speeches. Her debut novel: Purple Hibiscus, struck sensitive notes of emotions around the world. Further proofing to the world that, once again, African literature cannot be relegated to the background. As a novel of high positive acclaim, Purple Hibiscus gallantly garnered numerous international and local awards and recognitions. Half of a Yellow Sun, her second novel; a fearless account of an uncommon love story and the Nigerian civil war also made waves in the literary scene.
Just when some people predicted that Adichie was at her creative wits end, she came up with her third novel- Americannah. Americannah is rated as one of the greatest Immigrant novels of all time and ranked tenth on the BuzzFeed’s list of 21 Books Everybody Needs To Read.
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No doubt, Adichie, through her creative skills of vivid illustrations, lush descriptions, powerful narratives and expertly woven intricate world of words has left indelible footsteps on the sands of our time.
“Stories matter, many stories matter,” Adichie says. This vibrant writer believes that it is imperative for us to tell our stories by ourselves because nobody will tell them for us. Putting words into action, she organizes a yearly writing workshop, sponsored by Farafina Trust and the Nigerian Breweries, where young and creative literary minds are given a voice to dazzle the world with their equivocally powerful write-ups. This, in turn, has improved the reading and writing culture of the younger generation. Recently, Miss Pemi Aguda, once a participant of the writing workshop, won the 2015 Writivism Short Story Contest.
Adichie is also among the league of Africans in the global scene that is poised with the hunger of rebranding the continent. Her TED talk titled: The Danger of a Single Story, is one of the ways in which she condemns the derogatory attitude towards Africa and Africans by the outside world. As beautifully crafted as the speech is, it leaves us with thought pricking elements that can only correct our jaundiced view of seeing a particular people in a monochrome but in a kaleidoscope. As she puts it, “a single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are not true, but they make one story become the only story.”
This Nigerian star has and is still dutifully contributing her quota towards national development. This is achieved through being an Ambassador Extraordinaire to the goodwill and good name of our great country Nigeria. Adichie is also a principal stakeholder in the education sector in both Nigeria and West Africa. Reason for the aforementioned being that her novel Purple Hibiscus is enlisted in the national and regional Senior School Certificate Examinations.
“Feminist; a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” The aforementioned is an excerpt from another of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk; We Should All Be Feminists. To describe this Nigerian star as ardent apostle of feminism is not fibbing with words. Adichie bemoans that women are still regarded as weak, defenseless and vulnerable. Through her works, she offers a ray of hope to women, encouraging them to dream, to aspire and to achieve above any form of gender barrier. This has sparked off widespread reactions as most chauvinists cynically comment; “all these women wey too sabi, she go soon tire.” Truth be told, judging from the never-say-die attitude of preceding feminists like Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Margarete Ekpo, Onyeka Owenu and Buchi Emecheta, the match of feminism is here to stay.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is indeed an inspiration to us all. We still wonder and ask why? Is it because of being one of the few African writers to win the Orange Prize of Fiction? Is it because her works have appeared at the stables of the Pulitzer and Man-Booker literary prize? Is it because she is the first accomplished novelist to be nominated for a Grammy awards? Is because she has been featured in the prominent Times 100 Most Influential Persons? No! It is just because she started out as an ordinary girl, with kinky hair, from the little town of Nsukka and has held the literary world in an irresistibly firm grip. Thus, necessitating Lupita Nyongo saying that; “no matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.”
Continue to shine, even brighter, like a diamond.
FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART