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Chimamanda Adichie to be Honoured with Harvard University’s W.E.B Du Bois Medal

Award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been listed among the honorees recognised by Harvard University this year for their contributions to Black history and culture.

The W.E.B Du Bois medal which has not been awarded to anyone since the beginning of the pandemic is the highest honour given by Harvard in the field of African and African American studies. The medal is named after William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, the first Black student to earn a doctorate from Harvard in 1895.

Harvard made the announcement via their Twitter handle. Also, The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research announced in The Harvard Gazette that Chimamanda, alongside six other honourees, will receive the medal as people “who embody the values of commitment and resolve that are fundamental to the Black experience in America”. 

Other honourees include activist and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, award-winning actress Laverne Cox, Patron of Arts and Education Agnes Gund.

The medal will be presented on the 6th of October, 2022.

University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the Hutchins Center, in an official statement, said this year’s honourees represent “unyielding commitment to pushing the boundaries of representation and creating opportunities for advancement and participation for people who have been too often shut out from the great promise of our times.” 

With this award, Adichie joins an exclusive list of trailblazers, including Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Ava Duvernay, Dave Chappelle, Queen Latifah, Nasir “Nas” Jones, John Lewis, Steven Spielberg, athlete-activist Colin Kaepernick, and others who are past recipients of the iconic medal.

Over the years, Adichie has received global recognition for her work and won numerous awards and prizes.

Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Her second, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), won the Orange Prize for Fiction (subsequently the Bailey’s Prize and now the Women’s Prize for Fiction) – the world’s most prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman. Half of a Yellow Sun subsequently received the Bailey’s ‘Best of the Best’ award out of the 10 winners of the prize during its second decade.

Chimamanda is also a fashion and beauty icon and continuously promotes Nigerian designers, including through her ‘Wear Nigerian’ initiative. She was selected as the face of beauty brand Boots No7, and has been featured in numerous style publications including Vanity Fair’s ‘International Best-Dressed List’; and on the covers of British Vogue and Marie Claire Brazil amongst others. 

She has received 16 honorary PhD’s and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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