Wednesday, May 25, 2022

My Parents Did Not Name Me Chimamanda – Author Adichie

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Multiple award-winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie has revealed that she was not christened with the name, Chimamanda, instead, she created it.

In an interview with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu for Bounce Radio Live, the prolific writer stated that she was born Ngozi Adichie but she changed her name after she was baptized.
She said, “I made up the name, I invented the name Chimamanda. I created, Chimamanda; my parents did not name me Chimamanda. It is true…It happened shortly before my first novel was published. I was born Ngozi Grace, my mother is Grace. Growing up, I always felt that I was not Grace, that was my mother and Ngozi felt too common to me. In primary school, I was Ngozi.”

The author went further to say; “Being Catholic, one of the joys of Catholicism is that you get to choose a name when you get confirmed. I thought of a name I could choose but the priest said it had to be the name of a saint. People were choosing ridiculous names like Bernadette. I read a novel and there was a character called Amanda, so, I choose the name, Amanda. The priest said it was not a saint’s name but I told the father that it was the name I wanted.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“I pushed, so, they let me. I was Amanda at confirmation. I was Amanda from secondary school till my first year at the University at Nsukka when I was studying medicine…Then, I went to the US. About a month into my time in the US, I was in class as an undergraduate and there were about five people with that name, Amanda. It was not unique anymore and the way it was pronounced put me off. I felt that was not me. I started thinking about how I could change the name; remember that I had already changed my name from Ngozi to Amanda.”

“For a while, I will merge both. I will call myself, Amanda-Ngozi because I really wanted them to know that I am not Amanda (one of them). It was also a learning experience for me because what you think is cool in Nigeria, suddenly I thought, this is nonsense, wanting an English name,” she said.
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The Half of a Yellow Sun writer said that she longed for an Igbo name shortly before her first novel was published and after much thought, the name came to her. Due to the fact that the name Amanda was on most of her document, she had to think deep of an Igbo name that had ‘Amanda’ in it, hence, the name Chimamanda came to fore.

“I remember just lying there and it just came to me, Chimamanda. By the way, when I was thinking of a name, I could have just picked an Igbo name but I wanted a name that had Amanda in it so that I would not have to change my passport. I already had this identity; I had a passport, driver’s license, bank account with that name. So, it was really about how I could hold on to that name but make it Igbo.”
Photo Credit: Getty

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