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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Biography and Net Worth 2024

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Chimamanda Adichie
Written by Robin Okwanma

In the world of literature, there are exceptional giants of the pen. They write or rewrite stories (whether history, current narratives, or fiction) that open the imagination to see objects and concepts clearly. They lead people to learn from history. Such writers inspire the real-life and make-believe actors of human life. And they have the power to induce action – whether ethical or otherwise. There is a golden place for literary giants in human civilization, who stir up the very soul of man. One of them is Chimamanda Adichie – the exceptional critic and Nigerian storyteller of the 21st Century.

 

Perhaps the spirit of literary genius, late Chinua Achebe, has chosen to pass the baton to this uncommon woman. Her literary prowess and critique are deserving of a true product of historical scars, borne out of the Biafran War. 

She questions the morality of human society, as well as the unequal yoke of gender, race, and religion with thought-provoking words. She openly calls the typical Nigerian to order, and to self-responsibility. And she is not ashamed to be a feminist and non-conformist. Indeed we need more thought leaders of her kind in this nation. Join us as we highlight the journey and achievements of Chimamanda Adichie, an authentic Igbo-born Nigerian writer of global acclaim. An amazon who is attempting to use her words to move the world forward – one step at a time.      

Chimamanda Adichie: Where It All Began

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an Enugu-born indigene of Abba, Anambra state in southeast Nigeria. She was born in September 1977, the fifth out of six children of James Nwoye Adichie and Grace Ifeoma Adichie. Both her parents were staff of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). They are now both late.

Her father, James (1932–2020) was a professor of Statistics at the UNN. While her mother, Grace (1942–2021) was the first female registrar of the same university. The entire family reportedly occupied the same house that globally-renowned writer, Chinua Achebe once lived in. And curiously enough, Chimamanda became addicted to Chinua Achebe’s written works – especially the novel Things Fall Apart

Quite unfortunately, her family lost almost everything they had during the Nigerian Civil War (which occurred before she was born). Both their maternal and paternal grandfathers also died during the war; in fact one of them died in a refugee camp. The experience remained a prominent feature in some of her best written works.  

Chimamanda Adichie completed both her primary and secondary education at the University of Nigeria Staff School (Nsukka). She proceeded to enroll for a degree course in Medicine and Pharmacy at the same university. But the course of her life changed permanently, on discovering her strong flair for creative writing and literature. Chimamanda became an editor for the UNN’s magazine namely ‘Compass’. Apparently, her stint as an editor woke up the desire to pursue writing as a profession. 

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By the time she turned 19, Chimamanda left the UNN to further her studies in the United States. She enrolled at Drexel University, Philadelphia to study Communications and Political Science. She later switched schools to the Eastern Connecticut State University to complete her undergraduate studies. This was in a bid to stay close to her sister living in Connecticut. Chimamanda graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in 2001.      

Not stopping there, Chimamanda Adichie proceeded to John Hopkins University (2003) and later Yale University (2008) to obtain Masters degrees. While at Yale University, Chimamanda was a fellow at Princeton University (from 2005 to 2006). Again in 2008, she obtained a MacArthur Fellowship. And in 2011 to 2012, she was a fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Chimamanda Adichie’s Writing Career

Chimamanda began writing at the age of 20. Her first publication was a collection of poems titled Decision, which was published in 1997. She published her play, For Love of Biafra in 1998 (which centered on the Nigerian Civil War). Then she went ahead to publish her short story titled You in America. The story earned such international recognition that it was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. Her story, That Harmattan Morning was chosen as a joint winner of the 2002 BBC World Service Short Story Awards

Chimamanda’s debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, was published in 2003; it attained global fame. Her next novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (which narrated a fictional story based on the Biafran War) was released in 2006. It was also a successful publication. Half of a Yellow Sun was later adapted into a movie of the same name released in 2013. She published her third fictional novel titled Americanah in 2013. Americanah revolves around the experience of a young Nigerian in the USA, who had to deal with racism. In all, Chimamanda Adichie’s written works are a collection of novels, poems, short stories, a memoir, and book-length essays which include: 

  • Decisions
  • For Love of Biafra
  • Purple Hibiscus
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
  • The Thing Around Your Neck
  • Americanah
  • We Should All Be Feminists
  • Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
  • Sierra Leone, 1997
  • Notes on Grief
  • You in America
  • That Harmattan Morning

Some of her books have also been translated into other languages to make them available to a larger audience. Many of her readers are in the USA, which happens to be her second home (as she shuttles between Nigeria and the USA). 

Chimamanda Adichie: Public Speaking Roles

Chimamanda Adichie is also a skilled orator. She is a renowned public speaker who has delivered at several notable events. 

She delivered a keynote address at the 2012 Commonwealth Lecture titled ‘Connecting Cultures’.  The same year, she delivered another lecture at the TEDxEuston titled ‘We should all be Feminists’. The famous speech was later published as a book which sold an estimated 750,000 copies in the USA. International singer, Beyonce, was also inspired to feature part of the speech in her song ‘Flawless’. Again, she delivered another TED lecture in 2019 titled ‘The Danger of a Single Story’, and the lecture gained about 27 million Youtube views

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Back in Nigeria, Chimamanda Adichie delivered a keynote address at the Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association in August 2022. In her speech, she stated that young Nigerian citizens were finding it difficult to have mentors and heroes. She further charged Nigerians to wake up to responsibility, and desist from blaming the government for the inherent ills in the system. According to her, 

There’s need for resurrection. We cannot avoid self-criticism but criticize the government. We cannot hide our own institutional failure while demanding transparency from the government.’

Chimamanda Adichie: Net Worth (2024)

Chimamanda’s net worth (as claimed by certain sources) is estimated to be around 50,000 US Dollars (as of 2024). 

Chimamanda Adichie’s Personal Life

The skilled writer and orator is currently married to a medical doctor, Dr Ivara Esege. They are blessed with a daughter, born in 2016.

Chimamanda Adichie: Notable Awards 

The skilled writer is a recipient of so many literary and honorary awards, honorary degrees, and international recognitions. Notable amongst them are the following (the list is not exhaustive):

Literary Awards 

  • 2002 BBC Short Story Competition joint winner (for the story ‘That Harmattan Morning’)
  • 2003 O. Henry Prize (for the story ‘The American Embassy’)
  • 2002/2003 David T. Wong International Short Story Prize (PEN Center Award)
  • 2004 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (Best Debut Fiction Category)
  • 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book (Africa); Best First Book (Overall)
  • 2007 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (fiction category),
  • 2007 PEN Award (for ‘Beyond Margins’)
  • 2007 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction
  • 2008 MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Grant
  • 2009 International Nonino Prize
  • 2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize (fiction category)
  • 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award (fiction category)
  • 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
  • Mary McCarthy Award, Bard College
  • ‘Le Grand Prix de l’héroïne Madame Figaro’ (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 Award
  • 2018 PEN Pinter Prize

Other Humanitarian/Social Awards

  • Future Award: Young Person of the Year category
  • Girls Write Now Awards: Groundbreaker honoree
  • Silverbird Special Achievement Award
  • Harper’s Bazaar’s Women of the Year Award
  • The Women’s Center’s 32nd Annual Leadership Conference: Recipient of the Leadership Award
  • Global Hope Coalition’s Thought Leadership Award
  • Action Against Hunger: Humanitarian Award
  • Everett M. Rogers Award
  • UN Foundation Global Leadership Award
  • Belle van Zuylen Ring Award
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Other Recognitions

  • New Yorker’s ’Top 20 Under 40′ for 2010
  • ‘Ten Best Books of 2013′: New York Times Book Review, for Americanah
  • ‘Top Ten Books of 2013′: BBC for Americanah
  • Top 100 Most Influential Africans
  • ‘100 Most Influential People’ by Time Magazine
  • ‘100 Dynamic Women’ by Arise Magazine
  • Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed List
  • ‘One Book, One New York Programme’ for Americanah
  • Fortune Magazine’s ‘List of 50 World Leaders’
  • ‘One Maryland, One Book’ Programme for Purple Hibiscus
  • Contributor to Genius: 100 Visions of the Future
  • Best books of 2017 by NPR Books and Audible, for Dear Ijeawele
  • PBS’s ‘The Great American Read’ for Americanah
  • Ex-US President Barack Obama’s recommended summer reading list for Americanah (2018)
  • New York Times: ‘15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st Century’ for Americanah
  • Honorary Degrees and Academic Distinctions
  • Honorary Doctorate, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Connecticut, USA (May 2015)
  • Barnard Medal of Distinction, New York, USA (May 2016)
  • Honorary Doctorate, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (May 2016)
  • Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (April 2017)
  • Honorary degree, Haverford College, Pennsylvania, USA (May 2017)
  • Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, University of Edinburgh, Scotland  (2017)
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Duke University, North Carolina, USA (May 2018)
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA (May 2018)
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree, Bowdoin College, Maine, USA (May 2018)
  • Honorary Doctor of Literature (DLit) degree, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK (July 2018)
  • Honorary Degree, American University, Washington DC, USA (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 (June 2019)
  • Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, Yale University, USA (June 2019)
  • Honorary Degree, Northwestern University, USA (June 2019)
  • Honorary Degree, University of Pennsylvania (May 2020)

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About the author

Robin Okwanma

Hi, I'm Robin Okwanma. Software Engineer || Django, Python || React, React Native || Blogger. Technical Writer.