Chimamanda thrills Lagos with a reading from “Notes on Grief” – Toni Kan

When it comes to sheer literary star power, no one shines as bright as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and that wattage was in full display at the Alliance Francaise on Saturday January 15, 2021 when the multiple award winning and best selling author read from her extended essay, “Notes on Grief.”

The event was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, the business community, literary aficionados and dilletantes as well as the media. Emmanuelle Blatmann, Ambassadrice of France was on hand to welcome guests to the event which she described as the first salvo in their 2022 culture calendar.

Cross section of guests at the reading

Dressed in a black and red dress, Chimamanda who was introduced by Dr. Eghosa Imasuen of Narrative Landscape Press, her Nigerian publishers, said “I have not done a thing for a while in Lagos” before reading for about 30 minutes during which she detailed her father’s passing beginning a few days before his demise on June 10, 2020 and then continuing well past his burial and her mother’s passing almost a year later on March 1, 2021, her father’s birthday.

Direct, gut wrenching and sometimes angry, her essay is a daughter’s long tribute to a father she called Odelu-Ora Abba (One who writes for our community) or more cheekily DOS shorthand for Defender of Spouse.

Chimamanda on stage

The essay is a paean and love story told by an accomplished daughter about an equally accomplished father, Professor James Nwoye and her mother Mrs. Grace Adichie and in regaling her audience with her story of loss and of coming to terms with grief, Chimamanda made the point over and over again that there is no accepted protocol for mourning.

“Grief is a cruel kind of education. You learn how ungentle mourning can be, how full of anger.”

Photo credit – Eghosa Imasuen

And in laying her pain and loss bare, she helped many in her audience who had lost parents and loved ones engage with their pain with the Q & A session turning into a mini grief therapy session as many shared similar stories of navigating loss beginning with denial and then acceptance.

Group photo with Chimamanda

Reading over, the audience moved to the amphitheatre where the author spent over two hours signing autographs and posing for photos with appreciative fans many of whom could not find space inside.

Fans waiting for autographs

“I hope Chimamanda will hold another reading in a much bigger space,” a delighted fan said as she stuffed her signed copy into her bag.

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