Harvard University to honour Chimamanda with W.E.B Du Bois medal

Award-winning Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, will receive Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal on October 6, 2022.

This marks another return to Harvard for Chimamanda, who was the Harvard College Class Day Speaker in 2018, and was previously a Harvard Radcliffe Institute Fellow (2011-2012).

The W.E.B. Du Bois medal is the highest honour given by Harvard in the field of African and African American studies and is making a return with a new slate of honourees after a nearly three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Past recipients include Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Muhammad Ali, Steven Spielberg, Ava Duvernay and Chinua Achebe.

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 basketball legend, cultural critic and activist, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; groundbreaking actress, Laverne Cox; philanthropist and patron of the arts and education, Agnes Gund; business trailblazer, Raymond J. McGuire; former Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick and pioneering artist and visual storyteller, Betye Saar.

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.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has received global recognition for her work, which has been translated into over 30 languages and won numerous awards and prizes.


She occupies a unique position combining a number of attributes. The New York Times T Magazine in its 2017 ‘Greats’ issue, described her as ‘one of those rarest of people: a celebrated novelist who has also become a leading public intellectual’.

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 among others.

Adichie has received 16 honorary doctorate degrees from some of the world’s leading universities and she is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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