On Monday August 28, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, in recognition of her achievements as an author and public intellectual.
The Honorary Degree was presented by the University’s Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, at the University’s St Cecilia’s Hall, Scotland’s oldest concert hall.
Adichie, born and raised in Nigeria, is one of the world’s most well regarded contemporary writers, with her work having been translated into thirty languages and receiving numerous accolades from multiple publications.
One of Adichie’s most highly renowned novels, Half of a Yellow Sun, was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007.
Revolving around ideas of moral responsibility, the end of colonialism and ethnic allegiances, this novel and Adichie’s wider body of work makes astute comments on themes such as race, class and gender.
A more recent piece, the essay ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, offers a unique definition of feminism in the modern era, inputting Adichie’s own experiences and deep understanding of the often concealed realities of sexual politics.
The Independent have described the book as one that should be “pressed into the hands of girls and boys, as an inspiration for a future world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves.”
A New York Times bestseller, the piece was adapted from the 2012 TEDx talk of the same name and, with more than 1.5 million YouTube views, it has helped spark a worldwide conversation about feminism.
At the ceremony, Adichie spoke and expressed her joy at receiving the degree.
“I’m very grateful for this honour,” she said.
“It’s lovely to be here in this space, which is hallowed.
“To come after so many distinguished people I feel very fortunate to be included among the people who have been honoured with an honorary degree from this university.
“Writing is a thing that I love, fiction is the thing that brings me the greatest joy.”
Dr. Barbara Bompani, Director at the Centre of African Studies at the University’s School of Social and Political Science, spoke to The Student, saying that the Centre proposed Adichie for the Honorary Degree “in recognition of her prolific contribution to African literature and for her public engagement to raise awareness and debate about issues of race, gender, identity and global citizenship”, which are “all extremely important issues at the heart of teaching and research” at the centre and the wider university at large.
“It has been an incredible privilege to host her honorary graduation in Edinburgh and we will forever keep the fond memory of her visit and of the warm speech that she delivered to our students and communities of friends,” Bompani concluded.
Image: The University Of Edinburgh