Why Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie rejected national honours by Buhari

Award-winning Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has said that her non-appearance at Tuesday’s conferment of national honours by President Muhammadu Buhari was a rejection of the award.

Adichie was recently decorated with Harvard University’s iconic W.E.B. Du Bois Medal.

A member of Chimamanda’s communications team, Omawumi Ogbe, told The Guardian that the author declined the honour. 

Ogbe said in a statement: “Following the recent conferment of national awards by the President, there have been conflicting reports about one of the announced recipients, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Some social media users say the award-winning writer rejected the award, while others say she accepted it.

“The author did not accept the award and, as such, did not attend the ceremony. She, however, did not want to create undue publicity around it, so her non-acceptance was conveyed privately,” Ogbe said.

While conferring the award on 450 Nigerians and foreigners, President Buhari had justified the honours, saying the awardees had distinguished themselves in the service of the nation and humanity.

“We have among the recipients today, Amb. Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who are doing our country proud on the international scene,” Buhari said. “Our dear sisters are a source of inspiration to our young women that through the dint of hard work and dedication, they can achieve greatness.”

This is not the first time an honouree will turn down a national honour from a Nigerian president.

Late Prof. Chinua Achebe, the world-acclaimed Nigerian literary giant and author of Things Fall Apart, rejected the national honours award in 2004 and 2011, leading to an uproar at that time.

Achebe said he rejected the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) award because he was dissatisfied with the handling of the country’s affairs by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. 

Also, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, foremost human rights activist and lawyer, had while called for the award, turned it down.


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