How I invented the name Chimamanda – award winning writer, Adichie

How I invented the name Chimamanda – award winning writer, Adichie


International award winning writer, Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie, has said that the name Chimamanda was not given her at birth by her parents.

According to Adichie, she invented the name when she travelled to the United States of America because she wanted a unique name to distinguish herself.

In her words: “I made up the name, I invented the name Chimamanda. I created, Chimamanda; my parents did not name me Chimamanda. It is true. The reason I decided to talk about it is because they say that culture does not change. Do you know how many people in Igbo land that are called Chamamanda today?

“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.”

“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.

“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”.

Adichie said that the name Amanda did not seem unique to her anymore the time she travelled to the United States of America,

“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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