Chimamanda Adichie follows Chinua Achebe, Gani Fawehinmi’s footsteps, rejects Buhari’s national award

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinua Achebe, Gani Fawehinmi, Muhammadu Buhari, national award, national honours
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2

Chimamanda Adichie follows Chinua Achebe, Gani Fawehinmi’s footsteps, rejects Buhari’s national award

Prominent Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, had rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s offer to confer her with national honours which took place last Tuesday.

The author, however, decided to be modest about her rejection of the award, as she did it quietly.

This was revealed by Omawumi Ogbe, a member of Chimamanda’s communications team.

According to Omawunmi, Chimamanda did not accept the award and, as such, did not attend the ceremony. “She (Chimamanda) however, did not want to create undue publicity around it, so her non-acceptance was conveyed privately.”

President Buhari had offered the national honours to Chimamanda, alongside other female recepients like Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, whom he had described as “doing our country proud on the international scene…

“Our dear sisters are a source of inspiration to our young women that through the dint of hard work and dedication, they can achieve greatness,” President Buhari said.

The writer’s disposition was a replica of her kinsman’s in 2004 and 2011.

Fellow writer, late Prof. Chinua Achebe had on two occasions also rejected the national honours awards in 2004 and 2011, citing his dissatisfaction with the way things were being handled by the administrations of presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan respectively.

Renowned human rights activist and lawyer, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, had also rejected the national honour conferred on him in 2008 by the Umaru Yar’Adua administration.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s biography
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born on 15 September 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents, Grace Ifeoma and James Nwoye Adichie.

While the family’s ancestral hometown is Abba in Anambra State, Chimamanda grew up in Nsukka, in the house formerly occupied by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. Chimamanda’s father, who is now retired, worked at the University of Nigeria, located in Nsukka. He was Nigeria’s first professor of statistics, and later became Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University. Her mother was the first female registrar at the same institution.

Chimamanda completed her secondary education at the University’s school, receiving several academic prizes. She went on to study medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. During this period, she edited The Compass, a magazine run by the University’s Catholic medical students.

At the age of nineteen, Chimamanda left for the United States. She gained a scholarship to study communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia for two years, and she went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University, where she also wrote articles for the university journal, the Campus Lantern. While in Connecticut, she stayed with her sister Ijeoma, who runs a medical practice close to the university.

Chimamanda graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001, and then completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

It is during her senior year at Eastern that she started working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was released in October 2003. The book has received wide critical acclaim: it was shortlisted for the Orange Fiction Prize (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005).

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (also the title of one of her short stories), is set before and during the Biafran War. It was published in August 2006 in the United Kingdom and in September 2006 in the United States. Like Purple Hibiscus, it has also been released in Nigeria.

Chimamanda was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic year, and earned an MA in African Studies from Yale University in 2008; her thesis was entitled ‘The Myth of “Culture”: Sketching the History of Igbo Women in Precolonial and Colonial Nigeria’. In 2011-2012, she was awarded a fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, which allowed her to finalize her third novel, Americanah. The book was released to great critical acclaim in 2013.

Chimamanda is married and has a daughter. She divides her time between Nigeria, where she regularly teaches writing workshops, and the United States.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s awards & nominations
Literary Awards
  • BBC Short Story Competition 2002 joint winner, for ‘That Harmattan Morning’
  • O. Henry Prize 2003, for ‘The American Embassy’
  • David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award), for ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’
  • Hurston/Wright Legacy Award 2004 (Best Debut Fiction Category), for Purple Hibiscus
  • Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2005: Best First Book (Africa), for Purple Hibiscus
  • Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2005: Best First Book (overall), for Purple Hibiscus
  • Anisfield-Wolf Book Award 2007 (fiction category), for Half of a Yellow Sun (joint winner with Martha Collins, for Blue Front)
  • PEN ‘Beyond Margins’ Award 2007, for Half of a Yellow Sun (joint winner with Ernest Hardy for his essay collection Blood Beats, Vol. 1, Harryette Mullen for her poetry anthology, Recyclopedia, and Alberto Ríos for his poetry collection, Theater of Night)
  • Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007, for Half of a Yellow Sun
  • 2008 MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grant (along with 24 other winners)
  • 2009 International Nonino Prize
  • 2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize (fiction category), for Americanah
  • Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award 2013 (fiction category), for Americanah
  • Winner of the ‘Best of the Best’ of the second decade of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction), 2015, for Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Mary McCarthy Award, Bard College, USA, 2017
  • Winner of ‘Le Grand Prix de l’héroïne Madame Figaro’ 2017, for the French translation of Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (Chère Ijeawele, ou un manifeste pour une éducation féministe)
  • Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, 2018
  • PEN Pinter Prize, 2018
  • Women’s Prize for Fiction ‘Winner of Winners’ (25 years), for Half of a Yellow Sun, 2020
  • Hurston/Wright Foundation’s North Star Award, 2021
  • ‘Library Lion’, awarded by the New York Public Library, 8 November 2021

Other Awards

  • Future… Award (Young Person of the Year category), 2008
  • Girls Write Now Awards Groundbreaker honoree, 2015
  • Silverbird Special Achievement Award (joint winner with Desmond Majekodunmi and Alistair Soyode), 2016
  • Harper’s Bazaar’s Women of the Year Award, 2017
  • Recipient of the Leadership Award during The Women’s Center’s 32nd Annual Leadership Conference, 2018
  • Global Hope Coalition’s Thought Leadership Award, 2018
  • Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award, 2018
  • Everett M. Rogers Award, 2019
  • UN Foundation Global Leadership Award, 2019
  • Bookcity Milano Prize, 2019
  • Belle van Zuylenring Award, 2020
  • Woman of the Decade Award, ThisDay Nigeria, 2020
  • Africa Freedom Prize 2020 handed out by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, 14 December 2020
Nominations for Literary Awards
  • Shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing 2002, for ‘You in America’
  • Runner-up in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition 2002, for ‘The Tree in Grandma’s Garden’
  • Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2004, for Purple Hibiscus
  • Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2004, for Purple Hibiscus
  • Nominated for the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Best Books for Young Adults Award (2004), for Purple Hibiscus
  • Shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2004/2005, for Purple Hibiscus
  • Nominated for the 33rd Annual National Book Critics Circle Prize (2006), for Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2007: Best Book (Africa), for Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Nominated for the British Book Awards 2007, category ‘Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year’, for Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Nominated for the James Tait Black Memorial prize 2007, for Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Award 2008, for Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Nominated for the Reader’s Digest Author of the Year Award 2008
  • Longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award 2009, for The Thing around Your Neck
  • Shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2009, for The Thing around Your Neck
  • Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2010: Best Book (Africa), for The Thing around Your Neck
  • Nominated for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize 2010, for The Thing around Your Neck (runner-up)
  • Shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Book Prize for Fiction, 2014, for Americanah
  • Nominated for the 2014 Forbes Africa ‘Person of the Year’ Award
  • Nominated for the 2014 YNaija! Person of the Year Award
  • Shortlisted for the International Impac Dublin Award 2015, for Americanah
Nominations for Other Awards
  • Nominated for the 2011 ThisDay Awards, ‘New Champions for an Enduring Culture’ category
  • Nominated for the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards, ‘Personality of the Year’ category
  • Nominated for the 2015 Forbes Africa Person of the Year Awards
  • Nominated for the 2017 New African Woman Awards, Woman of the Year
Other Distinctions
  • Listed among The New Yorker‘s ’20 Under 40’, 2010
  • Listed among the ‘Ten Best Books of 2013’, New York Times Book Review, for Americanah
  • Listed among the ‘Top Ten Books of 2013’, BBC, for Americanah
  • Listed among the ‘100 Most Influential Africans 2013’, New African
  • Listed among the ‘Leading Women of 2014’ by CNN
  • Listed among the ‘100 Most Influential People’ by Time Magazine, 2015
  • Listed among the ‘100 Dynamic Women’ by Arise Magazine, 2015
  • Included in Vanity Fair‘s International Best Dressed List, 2016
  • Winner of the ‘One Book, One New York Programme’, for Americanah, 2017
  • Included in Fortune Magazine’s List of 50 World Leaders, 2017
  • Winner of the ‘One Maryland, One Book’ Programme, for Purple Hibiscus, 2017
  • Contributor to Genius: 100 Visions of the Future, a 3D-printed book celebrating Albert Einstein
  • Listed among the best books of 2017 by NPR Books and Audible, for Dear Ijeawele
  • Selected for ‘One Maryland, One Book’, for Purple Hibiscus, 2017
  • Featured on PBS’s ‘The Great American Read’, for Americanah, 2018
  • Included in Barack Obama’s recommended summer reading list, for Americanah, 2018
  • Listed among the New York Times‘ “15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century”, for Americanah, 2018
  • Listed among the ‘100 Novels That Shaped Our World’ by the BBC, for Half of a Yellow Sun, 2019
  • Listed among Time Magazine‘s ’10 Best Fiction Books of the 2010s’, for Americanah, 2019
  • Listed among the ‘100 Most Influential Africans’, Africa Report (number 4)
  • Listed among the ‘World’s Most Inspiring People in 2019’ by OOOM Magazine
  • Listed among the ’20 Women Who Will Shape Events in Nigeria in 2020′, ThisDay, 2020
  • Listed among the Sunday Times’ Women of the Year, 2020
  • Listed among Forbes Africa‘s ‘100 Icons from Africa’, 2021
  • Listed among the ‘BBC 100 Women’, 2021
  • Listed among the ‘Changemakers: 100 Nigerians Leading Transformational Change’, 2022
  • Listed among 100 leading women in Nigeria by the Nigeria Women Annual, 2022
Honorary Doctorates & Academic Distinctions
  • Honorary doctorate, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Connecticut, USA, 12 May 2015
  • Barnard Medal of Distinction, New York, USA, 17 May 2016
  • Honorary doctorate, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 18 May 2016
  • Elected as a Foreign Honorary Member into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 12 April 2017 (inducted 7 October 2017)
  • Honorary degree, Haverford College, Pennsylvania, USA, 13 May 2017
  • Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 28 August 2017
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Duke University, North Carolina, USA, 13 May 2018
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA, 20 May 2018
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree, Bowdoin College, Maine, USA, 26 May 2018
  • Honorary Doctor of Literature (DLit) degree, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK, 27 July 2018
  • Honorary Degree, American University in Washington DC, USA, 11 May 2019
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA, May 2019
  • Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree, Rhode Island School of Design, USA, 1 June 2019
  • Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, Yale University, USA, 10 June 2019
  • Honorary Degree, Northwestern University, USA, 21 June 2019
  • Honorary Degree, University of Pennsylvania, 18 May 2020
  • Honorary Doctorate, Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 28 April 2022


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