Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: An African Immigrant Champion


By Dale Vernor, African Warrior Contributor

News coming from sub-Saharan Africa are mostly about poverty, political disturbance, war, or famine. According to an article published in the LA Times, this is mainly the reason why most Americans think that immigrants from Africa coming to their country are also poor, aggressive, and miserable.

This is also the impression left by US President Donald Trump’s comments to Congress when he strongly disagreed with accepting immigrants coming from “shithole countries” such as Africa and anywhere else.

Then again, research tells otherwise.

Though there are many refugees, the majority of the recipients of the “diversity visa program” focused on boosting the number of immigrants from underrepresented countries. Immigrants from Africa, on the average, are better educated compared to the people born in the US or to the total population of immigrants.

According to Jeanne Batalova, the Senior Policy Analyst of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington and also one of the authors of the report on the Sub-Saharan African Immigrants in the United States, African immigrants is a population which has a very diverse economic profile, educational background, and English language proficiency.

According to the New American Economy report, the number of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa rose from more than 723,000 in 2010 to almost 2 million in 2015. However, this number shows that they make up only 0.50% of the total US population.

Regardless of the discrimination felt and experienced by these African immigrants, most of them worked hard and paved their own way to success in the US. One of the most successful African immigrants in the US is the author named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her Influence in Literature

Chimamanda was born in Enugu, Nigeria on September 15, 1977. Her works centered primarily on the Biafran war in Nigeria in the late 1960’s.

From a young age, Chimamanda is already a voracious reader. She found the work of fellow Igbo Chinua Achebe, “Things Fall Apart,” as truly powerful and trans formative. She studied medicine in Nsukka for a time, however, she felt that it was not her calling so she left for the United States in 1997. In the US, she studied Political Science and Communication at the Eastern Connecticut State University. Traveling back and forth to Nigeria and the US, she also worked hard and earned a Creative Writing Master’s degree from the prestigious John Hopkins University. Later on, she also went and studied African history at Yale.

Chimamanda Adichie’s play entitled “For Love of Biafra” was printed in Nigeria in 1998 but she remarked that this particular play as appallingly“melodramatic.” In this play, she explored the repercussions of the 1960 Nigeria and Biafra war. Later on, she wrote stories picturing the conflicts in that same war. In 2006, she wrote her highly-successful novel “Half of a Sun,” still drawing inspiration from the said Biafran and Nigerian war.

Her first novel entitled “Purple Hibiscus” was written and published in 2003 when she was still a student at the Eastern Connecticut State University. The novel talks about the coming-of-age of a 15-year-old girl named Kambili. Although they are rich, her father was a religious fanatic which causes a lot of problems. This novel won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2005 for Best First Book written by an African category and also won the 2005’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book for all categories. Furthermore, the said novel was short-listed for the 2004 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Chimamanda Adichie received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2008. In 2009, she then released her collection of short stories called “The Thing Around Your Neck.” In 2013, she released “Americanah,” a novel which tells the story of a young Nigerian woman learning and blogging about ethnicity and race in the US.

Truly, the story of Chimamanda Adichie’s success is the perfect example of how one can turn discrimination against one’s color and cultural background into their very own platform for success.

Bio : Dale is a writer and researcher in the fields of mental health, politics and culture. When not writing Dale enjoy new movies, exploring new music and having conversations with people from all walks of life.