After a terrible 2020, 2021 seems to have kicked off on a great note with revered Nigerian author and foremost feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie blessing us with an interview.
Hosted by her friend and TV personality Ebuka Obi-Uchendu on his Black Box Interview series on Bounce Radio, Chimamanda spoke at length on a slew of issues.
From how she came up with her name, to religion, her personal life, dealing with deaths in her family, feminism and the #EndSARS movement.
It was also probably the most personal, revealing and relaxed interview you would ever see from Chimamanda.
It would be no surprise as both Ebuka and Chimamanda have been close friends for years.
The interview on Bounce Radio Live Youtube page is in two parts, and together it’s over two and a half hours.
Have no time to watch? Pulse in this article summarizes the interview with these 15 talking points.
1. She invented the ‘Chimamanda’ herself
Chimamanda Adichie says she invented the name ‘Chimamanda’ herself (mannyjeffersonMakeup)
In the most shocking revelation of the interview, Chimamanda revealed that she invented her popular name herself.
Due to her success and impact., the name ‘Chimamanda’ has become popular, especially among millennial moms. Many of them will be shocked to find out that the author came up with the name herself.
The author revealed that she was born Ngozi-Grace-the latter after her mother, but she felt that Ngozi was ubiquitous while Grace was more of her mother.
During her Confirmation (it’s a Catholic thing) she chose the name ‘Amanda’ but found it also common when she went to the United States to study.
Before her first book was published, she added ‘Chim’ to ‘Amanda’ to come up with ‘Chimamanda;.
2. Music she listens to and TV shows she enjoys
When she was asked about the type of music she listens to, Chimamanda revealed that she’s not a music person.
She, however, mentioned a host of artists she likes. Flavour, Phyno, Onyeka Onyewu, Umu Obiligbo and Florence + the Machine are some of the artists she likes.
Asked about what she watches, the author revealed that she loves European TV shows. She is, however, not a fan of American comedy.
She hardly ever watches Nollywood, although she is grateful that the industry exists. She has a problem with dialogues and some basic things, but she watched Living in Bondage and liked it.
4. Growing up in ‘Achebe’s house.
There’s a link that people love to establish between legendary writer Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda. Top amongst them is that the author grew up in Achebe’s house.
But that is not exactly how it happened. Chimamanda revealed that she grew up in her family’s house at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. That family house happened to be where the Achebes lived before they relocated to the United States of America.
Ebuka asked Chimamanda about her dating history, and after a little hesitancy, the author spilt a few backstories.
Her first crush was a guy called Oke in Primary school. Her first proper relationship was in Junior Secondary School (JSS) 1 with her brother’s friend. She didn’t mention her name because she doesn’t want his wife to be upset. The crush started in JSS 1, but it was in Senior Secondary School (SS) 1 that they started dating. She broke her heart because she met someone else.
7. Catholic church
Chimamanda grew up in Catholic, but her relationship with the church has changed. She still considers herself Catholic in a ‘cultural’ way not ‘religiously’.
She said Catholicism, especially in Nigeria’s Igbo region, is too much about money, fundraising, and thanksgiving. However, she still finds mass beautiful, but there are also a lot of things about the Catholic Church that she does not like.
8. Half of a Yellow Sun
They talked about one of Chimamanda’s most famous works’ Half of a Yellow Sun’, a novel that tells the Biafran War story through a host of characters’ perspective.
She said she is not pressured to do a fellow-up and refused to discuss what happened to one of the characters, Kainene, a fearless woman who ran a refugee camp during the war. At the end of the novel, she trades with the enemy, putting her life at risk, but the story ends without clarifying what happened to her.
Speculations about what happened Kainen’s are popular among book enthusiasts, but Chimamanda refused to enter that conversation.
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ has also been adapted into a movie, but Chimamanda revealed that she has little problems with it. One of them is Ugwu, a main character in the book, not getting enough looks
Ebuka asked Chimamanda about her husband, but the author refused to give out any details about how they met.
The author has been very private with her marriage and the nuclear family. Because she believes that if she gives a little, people will feel entitled for more. Her husband is also very private, and she wants to keep it that way.
11. Raising her daughter
However, she spoke about her daughter and said she is raising her to be able to speak Igbo and Pidgin English.
12. Honorary Degree
During the interview, Ebuka revealed that Chimamanda has 16 Honorary Degrees from foreign universities but none from a Nigerian institution including the University of Nigeria, where she studied Medicine for a year.
She said not having an Honorary Degree from Nigeria has been deliberate from her. She added that she had been offered one from the University of Nigeria, but it never worked because of timing and schedules.
13. Deaths in her family
2020 was a challenging year for everyone, including Chimamanda, who revealed that she lost three close family members, including her dad and sister during the year.
“It really changed me, I’m still in mourning,” she said about the deaths.
Chimamanda was dealing with her father’s death during the #EndSARS protest, but she took out time to write a powerful Op-ed in the New York Times to support the movement.
She said she felt a type of admiration for Nigerian youths and it gave her a lot of hope.
They also discussed Nigeria during the interview, and when asked if she is proud to be a Nigerian, she said; “if I said yes, it would be a lie if I said no, it would be a lie.”
“Nigeria deeply frustrates me,” she also said.
She revealed that she only has her Nigerian passport and made a choice not to become an American citizen. It’s a choice she said she had regretted several times.
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