“Actions speak louder than words” is an old saying that goes hand in hand with influential leaders, but it does not exactly cut it for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As one of the most celebrated authors of this century, Adichie uses storytelling to help change the world by empowering men and women everywhere to speak out against inequalities and adversity. For Adichie, her words led her out of oppression and into a position that incites change, even in places where people are most averse to it.
I M A G I N E
Famous for her 2009 Ted Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” Adichie is also in the international spotlight for being one of the Guardian’s top ten influential female writers. She is placed among writers like Toni Morrison and Virginia Woolf for her transformative and honest storytelling about race, ethnicity and feminism.
Her award-winning works include Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah and Dear Ijeawele, all of which have been translated into over thirty languages. She has also written poetry, several short stories and essays, as well as one famous essay titled We Should All Be Feminists. Her essay had so much influence around the world that it was made available to every 16-year-old-high-school student in Sweden in 2015. Sweden’s government prioritizes gender equality and has the world’s first ever “feminist government” .
“I didn’t ever consciously decide to pursue writing. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to spell, and just sitting down and writing made me feel incredibly fulfilled,”Adichie said in a radio interview .
Her imagination and love for writing was not hindered by the oppressive country she was brought up in. She grew up in Nigeria in the 1970s, right after the country had been ravaged by war and riots. Although she grew up in a time of peace in an upper-middle class family, she was deeply affected by the aftereffects of a war-torn nation. A lot of her earlier pieces of writing were influenced by hardships that had affected young Nigerian women, like rape, starvation and death. Although Adichie had never personally experienced these things, she perfectly emulated what young women were facing at the time.
And I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves.
I N S P I R E
Adichie’s story is inspirational; that is unquestionable. Her journey has led her to split her time between Nigeria and the United States, and her work is celebrated around the world. Her essay We Should All Be Feminists was included in Beyonce’s song “Flawless,” and her work inspires those around her to be what she calls “happy feminists.”
Adichie attended Eastern Connecticut State, graduating summa cum laude. She has a master’s degree from John Hopkins for creative writing, and a master’s in African Studies from Yale. She is recognized as an inspirational global voice in African literature .
E M P O W E R
Adichie not only inspires others, she empowers them to take action with her words. In We Should All Be Feminists she writes,“Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.”
In addition to her Ted Talk, which received over four million views, Adichie’s influence spans to classrooms and news publications alike. Her books may have garnered her an acclaimed position in the writing world, but she did not stop there. Adichie founded the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop, a program where Nigerian writers spend a few weeks with Adichie and other international writers developing their creative writing skills.
In 2016, Adichie added “fashion icon” to her resume when she became the face of the makeup brand No7. In an interview with the New York Times Adichie describes how her mother’s love for fashion influenced her greatly growing up. She makes it clear that all women should have the right to choose whether or not to wear makeup, and that she wants to be able to express who she is.
“There’s no such thing as perfection. Originality is a beautiful thing,” Adichie said in her interview with The New York Times .
Adichie is an educated, influential and empowering woman who asks the world to question gender expectations in every society. She asks us to imagine and inspire and empower others to live a freer and more true life. “Chimamanda” literally translates to “my God will not fall down,” and she lives up to that name by building faith in the millions of people around the globe who she inspires through her storytelling. Like any good story, Adichie’s name is passed on, between friends, between grandmothers and mothers and daughters, as the name of the woman every woman should know.