Celebrating ten years of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shared at the Southbank why her story of star-crossed lovers caught up in a Nigeria’s civil war still resonates, and why she keeps being drawn back to the theme of love. Her astounding talk was part of the South bank #FestivalofLove that took place from Saturday 9th July – Monday 29 August 2016.
On being asked is she a feminist responded, “I did not get the memo that men and women are not equal. With which ”The audience roared with applause.
During her interview with Ted Hodgkinson, Senior Programmer for Literature and Spoken Word at The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre saw Adichie in her usual sophiscated style give uncompromising answers to questions which both threw shade and wisdom in equal measure which was completely packed out on the night. With fans and feminists alike hanging onto every word Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, cheering her on from the rafters.
Adichie – a Nigerian author and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient – won the Orange Prize for her second novel ‘Half a Yellow Sun’, which was published in 2006 to universal acclaim. In 2014 Half of a Yellow Sun’ set before and during the Biafran War was adapted into a film starring top Hollywood actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and actress Thandie Newton and enjoyed great cinematic success globally.
Adichie has even inspired other contemporary writers and popular culture across the world, including Beyoncé and Zadie Smith. Her TEDx talk in 2012 “We Should All Be Feminists” continues to be a huge success, with Beyonce quoting it on her song Flawless in late 2013, and the Swedish government decreeing that every child should receive a copy of the talk.
Her other novels Purple Hibiscus (2003),a short story collection, The Thing Around your neck and Americanah (2013) focus on social upheavals, from the Biafran war to transatlantic racial politics, all told through true-to-life characters and relationships. Most recently she has written a short story about Donald Trump’s wife Melania, imagining her as an ignored and sexually frustrated figure.
At the tender age of 32 she has accomplished herself as one of Nigeria’s most influential African writers alongside the greats like of Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Ben Okri. One of the most powerful force of her work Her work has been able to articulate both intimate personal relationships and history and the voice of the African woman.
Born in Nigeria in 1977, she grew up in the university town of Nsukka, Enugu State where she attended primary and secondary schools, and briefly studied Medicine and Pharmacy. She then moved to the United States to attend college, graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University with a major in Communication and a minor in Political Science. She holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins and a Masters degree in African Studies from Yale University. She was a 2005-2006 Hodder Fellow at Princeton, where she taught introductory fiction. Chimamanda is the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the 2007 Orange Prize For Fiction; and Purple Hibiscus, which won the 2005 Best First Book Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the 2004 Debut Fiction Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2009, her collection of short stories, The Thing around Your Neck was published. She was named one of the twenty most important fiction writers under 40 years old by The New Yorker and was recently she gave the Commonwealth lecture in 2012. She featured in the April 2012 edition of Time Magazine, celebrated as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She currently divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.