Clearly, award-winning Nigerian-American novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, was destined for a career path in literature. While her interest in writing was sparked during her early days in Nigeria, the seed of her feminism drive was also sown at this time.
Even her success was somewhat predictable. Everything from her childhood prepared this young African glamour for the life she now enjoys. Chimamanda’s assertive and stylish nature, plus her outspoken disposition on social-cultural issues, began manifesting all through her adolescent years in Nigeria.
Described as a child who would never shut up, she was raised by academic parents. Her father, James Nwoye Adichie was a renowned professor of statistics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her mother, Grace Adichie, was the university’s first female registrar.
In Nigeria, perhaps elsewhere too, kids who grow up in this type of family environments are historically academics and bookworms. Chimamanda was no different. She was a voracious reader, and at age six, she had started writing. At 10, she would distance herself from her peers and escape into a quiet place so she could write.
“I remember looking forward to when I could go up to my father’s study and be alone and write,” Chimamanda recalls during an interview with Image journal. “It was considered something odd for me to want to do that when it was sunny outside. Now, as an adult, I realize it’s what I care about. It gives me a sense that this is what I am meant to be doing.”
Interestingly, at some point in Chimamanda’s early years in Nsukka, she lived in a house once occupied by her idol and biggest influence in literature, Chinua Achebe, the renowned Nigerian novelist and author regarded as the father of African literature.
‘Things Fall Apart’, ‘Arrow of God’ – the works of Achebe, whom Chimamanda said she met only twice in her entire life, greatly shaped her writing career and had a significant influence on her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus. The book launched Chimamanda into global consciousness and recognition…
Read Chimanda’s full story and more exclusives like this in our latest issue below. Find it on page 30.
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