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Nigerian Author Makes Case For Women In Yale’s Class Day Speech

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Chimamanda Adichie Yale’s Class Day Speech

Chimamanda Adichie, the multiple award-winning novelist was picked for Yale’s Class Day speech. The event held on Sunday, 19th May 2019 at 2:00 p.m. Class Day has become Yale’s tradition that dishes athletic, artistic, and academic prizes to deserving graduating students. Advising the graduating students Adichie said,

“Nurture your ambitions, seek to be successful but keep in mind that there are hollows that success will not fill.”

Majority of the previous Class Day speakers are politicians including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Kerry. Consequently, this makes Adichie a rare addition to the list. Adichie’s Class Day speech was on the eve of Yale’s 318th Commencement. Shuyu Song, a member of the Class Day Planning Committee said Chimamanda Adichie was chosen to deliver the speech because of her ability to deliver thought-provoking and memorable address. Song said,

“The committee cannot imagine a better speaker to commemorate our four years at Yale than Adichie. She is an inspiring global citizen whose words, teaching, and social activism have had an indelible impact on the diaspora and broader contemporary culture.”

Another feather to Chimamanda Adichie’s cap

Chimamanda Adichie is a winner of Orange Prize for Fiction, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. However, she has authored bestselling books like “Americanah” and “We Should All Be Feminists”. In 2017 she was named one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. The prolific writer is also an alumna of Yale. She received her Master of Arts in 2008 from Johns Hopkins University. Consequently, she proceeded to study African history at Yale. Beaming with a smile, Adichie recalled her days at Yale,

“I remember the many clever undergrads I met while at Yale and it’s an honor to know that a class of similarly clever students chose me to speak to them.”

Consequently, Adichie has joined a growing list of prestigious Class Day speakers. She also holds honorary doctorates from Williams College, Haverford College, Duke University, the University of Edinburgh, and Amherst College. Her novel has also been translated to over 30 languages.

Excerpts from the 2019 Class Day speech

Chimamanda Adichie’s Class Day speech cut across a diverse topic including leadership, journalism, and beliefs. However, her speech was not just insightful but full of humor and anecdotes. According to Adichie, it was necessary to keep an open mind to experience the world in a way different from idealized belief. She said,

“To find a way to marry idealism and pragmatism, be open to changing your mind. It is often a sign of growth. [However] be open to the possibility that you might be wrong. Ideology is a good thing, but if you find that you yield unquestioningly to every orthodoxy of the ideology you subscribe to, then maybe it is time for some agility in your thinking.”

'Ideology is a good thing, but if you find that you yield unquestioningly to every orthodoxy of the ideology you subscribe to, then maybe it is time for some agility in your thinking.' - Chimamanda Adichie Click To Tweet

Chimamanda Adichie is never afraid of speaking the truth. However, she is famous for her activism, particularly on gender equality. In her usual manner, she used her speech to make a case for women. She urged the class of 2019 to change the corporate traditions.

“If you’re one day in corporate power, please hire women as executives and not just in human relations. Change corporate culture. Have an on-site day-care. [Consequently] make paid family leave standard and ordinary.”

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