5 Times Chimamanda Was A Cultural Icon

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been a prolific name for decades due to her impact in the literary and feminist landscape. Her rise began as a result of the success of her critically acclaimed book Purple Hibiscus which amassed multiple awards including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2005 for Best First Book (Africa) and that year’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (overall). Since her debut into the literary scene in 2004, Chimamanda has stayed at the forefront of the industry with award winning novels like The Thing Around Your Neck, Americanah, and Half Of A Yellow Sun which was adapted into film. Adichie, being one of the critical voices of Africa, has consistently told stories specific to the Nigerian experience, especially perspectives that are often sidestepped in literature.

Aside from her impact in literature, Adichie is a feminist advocate. She has contributed to the feminist discourse through her books We Should All Be Feminist published in 2014 and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions published in 2017, both of which explore feminism in the 21st century through her personal experiences.

Over the years, her contribution to society has allowed her to dominate rooms occupied by other influential people. She has been a key speaker in numerous Universities and panels, TED talks, including the 2022 Youth & Leaders Summit , sharing indispensable advice and insight. Chimamanda has also amassed multiple accolades distinct from awards given to her novels. She holds more than 15 honorary degrees from multiple universities across the world, including Yale University, the University of Edinburgh and Johns Hopkins University. Her desire to impart  knowledge has also been expressed through her writing workshop, The Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing, which has nurtured and ushered in the next generation of African authors. 

In celebration of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s birthday, we bring you 5 exemplary instances of her icon status.  


When She Was Featured in Beyonce’s ***Flawless 

American megastar musician and performer, Beyoncé sampled an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2017 TED Talk We Should All Be Feminists in her song Flawless, a track from her self-titled fifth album Beyonce. The feature was a seamless addition to the Beyoncé track. In tandem, it highlighted the hypocritical manner society treats women in comparison to men, and it also served as a women empowerment anthem, encouraging women to see themselves as flawless creation. This collaboration between the two powerhouses was met with praise and celebration around the world. 



When She Owned A French Journalist

In 2018, Chimamanda was invited by France’s foreign ministry to appear as a guest of honor at the Institut Francais’cultural event La Nuit des Idées. During an interview conducted by French journalist Caroline Broué, Adichie was asked if there were bookshops in Nigeria. In response, the writer commented on the stereotypical way African countries are perceived and how poorly it reflected on the French people that such questions were asked. Clips from this interaction have made multiple rounds on social media over the years. It summed up the unimaginative way Africans are perceived and the general displeasure Africans have towards that kind of ignorance.



When She Gave Us Her Lament, Notes On Grief

Following the passing of her beloved father, Adichie wrote a series of notes chronicling the moment she received word of his death and fondly recounting his robust life experience. The writer tapped into her grief to create one of the most compelling pieces of literature on the subject. Grief is generally a topic that is shrouded in discomfort because of its rawness and the vulnerability it emits from people. However, Adichie, through love and mediation portrayed all the aspects of grief. It sparked a nationwide conversation on the sensitivity of grief and the general reservations in exploring it.

When She Featured in a Dior Campaign 

To add to the writer’s many accolades, Adichie has made strides in the fashion industry, becoming the first woman to represent the Dior Lady 95.22 bag. The bag is a reinvention of the Dior 1995 Lady bag, as such it was named after its year or creation and year of reinvention (2022). Such an iconic piece of fashion, being represented  by a literary icon was a befitting collaboration.


When She Wrote A Kiddie’s Book 

Adichie’s most recent accomplishment is the release of her children’s book,  Mama’s Sleeping Scarf. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, the author narrates the inspiration behind her book, referencing a sweet moment where her daughter pulls a scarf off her head. In the book, the author celebrated the seemingly ordinary yet beautiful aspects of the mother-daughter relationship. Adichie delves into the world of children’s stories, exploring the depths of her creativity and an  ability to switch from solemn literature themes to more cheerful ones.