US-based Nigerian novelist and author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has urged youths across the globe to dedicate more time to reading.
Adichie made this known at The Harvard Centrer Honors, Massachusetts, US, where she received W.E.B Du Bois Medal on Thursday.
While delivering her speech after receiving the honour, the 45-year-old Purple Hibiscus author said she fled Nigeria to avoid studying Medicine as wanted by her parents saying “I was made to tell stories.”
Adichie said, “And it’s such an honour for me to be on this stage. It’s such an honour for me to be honoured to get this WEB Du Bois Medal for so many reasons.”
After giving a hint into how she was received by her family in the US who necessitated her remarkable literary career, she then admonished youths to imbibe reading culture.
She said, “The most meaningful thing for me as a writer is to know that I can create something that means something to other people. And so what moves me the most is to hear from people who have read me and who say, your work made me feel seen, your work made me think differently, your work made me feel that I was not alone.
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“And I’m so grateful for this award because again it just makes me feel that what I’m doing matters and it’s a gift to feel what you’re doing matters.
“For the young people who are here, if you care about anything, please care about reading, reading is so important, reading is magical, books are magical.
“And I really think that one of the best ways to counter what seems to me to be a really ugly tsunami of book bannings going around in this country is to read. The only way that we can answer to censorship of books is to read books,” she said.
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Speaking about embracing books at the expense of social media, Adichie said, “And so for you young people, I just want to make a very small suggestion, how about you give up social media for you know, two weeks, three weeks, a month, and read, read, read.”
About W. E. B. Du Bois Medal
The W. E. B. Du Bois Medal is Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African American studies. It is awarded to individuals in the United States and across the globe in recognition of their contributions to African and African American culture and the life of the mind. Recipients have included scholars, artists, writers, journalists, philanthropists, and public servants whose work has bolstered the field of African and African American studies.
The medal had not been awarded to anyone since the beginning of the covid 19 pandemic. It is the highest honor given by Harvard in the field of African and African American studies.
Chimamanda is known for her elegant storytelling and her advocacy for gender equality. She was also a speaker at the Harvard College Class Day in 2018 and was previously a Harvard Radcliffe Institute Fellow between 2011 and 2012.
Other recipients of the award include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Laverne Cox, Agnes Guns, Raymond J McGuire, Deval Patrick, and Betye Saar.
A professor of the university and director of the Hutchins center said in a statement that;
“Whether they’ve distinguished themselves in the arts, civic life, education, athletics, activism, or any combination of the above, these medalists show in all that they do their 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.”
The medal allows her to join the list of trailblazers like 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 medal.