Multiple award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been named as one of the 100 Most Influential People of African descent by the Africa Report. Adichie is number four on the list, and is the only other Nigerian on in the Top 5 apart from Aliko Dangote who is number one.
She is also the only woman in the Top 5. Adichie is followed on this list by number 5, Trevor Noah, South-African born television personality and comedian who is one of the leading talk show hosts in the US, having taken over from Jon Stewart on the award-winning “Daily Show”.
In a series of articles published on their platform, The Africa Report, a highly credible publication, named the top Africans “who control the levers of power across politics, business and the arts: from billionaire barons to unpredictable peacemakers and soft-power superstars”.
The Africa Report said of Adichie that she “continues her stratospheric ascent and is as often seen behind a mic as in print these days – engaging audiences about racism, sexism and the human condition.” She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including in 2008, a Macarthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Macarthur Genius Award. She also received fellowships at Princeton University and the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University.
Her books have been translated into over 30 languages and are used in school curriculums around the world, including Nigeria. They have won numerous prizes, including the Commonwealth Prize for her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus”. Her second novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun” was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction (subsequently renamed the Baileys’ Prize), which is the worlds’ top award for female writers- and in 2015, “Half of a Yellow Sun” won the “Best of the Best” Prize, awarded to the best of the ten Prize winners over the previous decade.
“Americanah”, among other awards, won the U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award, which is the most prestigious literary award because it is awarded by professional book critics. “Americanah” is now being adapted for TV, and HBO recently commissioned a 10-episode series of “Americanah” to be produced by Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B, in which Nyong’o will star.
Adichie’s TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” is one of the most viewed TED talks of all time. Her other TED talk, “We Should All Be Feminists” started a global conversation about feminism, and was sampled by Beyoncé for her song “Flawless”. It also led to a collaboration with Christian Dior Couture, which launched a limited-edition T-shirt in 2017 inspired by her talk.
In October 2018, she was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize, named in honor of playwright and Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter. With many of these awards, including the Orange Prize, the Macarthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN Pinter Prize, she has the distinction of being the first Nigerian and in fact, the first African, to receive these recognitions.
Adichie is admired by many global leaders and influencers, including Barack and Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey. Barack Obama called her “one of the world’s great contemporary writers”; and Hillary Clinton has written that “she has the rare ability to sum up even the biggest societal problems swiftly and incisively”.
In addition, she has received 14 Honorary Doctorate degrees from leading universities around the world, including from one of her alma maters, Yale University; has spoken at some of the most influential global institutions such as the United Nations General Assembly, and is known for her courageous speaking out against injustice. Adichie’s influence transcends writing, with the New York Times calling her “the rare novelist to become a public intellectual”.
She is also widely seen as a style icon, has been featured on covers and features in numerous top global fashion and style publications, and was included in Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed List in 2016. Later that year, she was named as the face of British beauty brand Boots No7. In May 2017, the author launched her own project, “Wear Nigerian,” to promote Nigerian brands and designers.
Adichie is committed to assisting young aspiring writers, and 11 years ago, founded an Annual Writers Workshop in Nigeria for which applications come from around the world. The late literary titan, Chinua Achebe said of Adichie when she was starting out: “We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers…Adichie came almost fully made”. Her deep love for her people and country is evident in her work and in 2011, the Nigerian Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, awarded her the Global Ambassador Achievement Award.
Also included in The Africa Report’s list are Chief Executive Officer of leading global bank Credit Suisse, Tidjane Thiam (Cote D’Ivoire); Chairman of the largest media group by market capitalization outside the US and China, Koos Bekker (South Africa); and the current Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed. Other Nigerians on the list include General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God Pastor Enoch Adeboye, award-winning artiste and record label executive Davido, leading global banker Adebayo Ogunlesi, and tech entrepreneur Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji.