I like to think of myself as a Chimamandian. So imagine the sadness that overwhelmed me when I heard that her father had passed on. It felt so personal. Chimamanda has always talked about her father with a fondness that is hard to miss. I can only imagine how she feels at this time.
He was reported to have died on Wednesday (June 10) night at Chira Memorial Hospital, Awkuzu Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra state.
Prof. J.N. Adichie was born in Abba in 1932, he had his primary education at Nimo Primary School and Awkuzu Primary School and secondary education at Our Lady’s High School Onitsha (1947-48) and Yaba Technical Institute, Lagos (1948-1950). He attended the University College, Ibadan where he studied Mathematics from 1957-60, graduating with honors. He worked at the Central Bank of Nigeria and later at the newly-established Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology in Enugu (now University of Nigeria, Nsukka) before moving to the US where he obtained a Ph.D in Statistics from the University of California, Berkley in 1966. Upon returning to Nigeria, he held various positions at the University of Nigeria, steadily climbing the ranks until he became Nigeria’s first professor of statistics in 1976. He retired from the university in 1997, having once served as Deputy Vice Chancellor. Prof J. N. Adichie is survived by his wife Ifeoma Grace Adichie, six children and many grandchildren.
May his soul rest in peace!
Read these articles she wrote about her father:
1) ‘As a child, I thought my father invincible. I also thought him remote’ – Published in the Guardian, Sunday, 15th June, 2008.
My father repeats stories now. When I tell him that he has told a story before, he glances at me for a moment, says, ‘Ezi okwu, have I really?’ and goes on to tell it anyway. But I still listen, still ask him to explain ornate Igbo proverbs, still imagine the grandfather I never knew who in the late 1930s sold his valuables to pay school fees for his little boy, placed the child on a bicycle every morning and determinedly rode miles to the school in Nimo because a western education was key to succeeding in the new colonial state.
That child, my father, would drop out of secondary school when his family could no longer afford the fees, would work as a sanitary inspector, take his Cambridge exams as a private candidate, study pure mathematics at Ibadan, get a doctorate at Berkeley and become Nigeria’s first professor of statistics; I grew up seeing sheets of paper full of strange-looking equations on the study table. When I took mathematics problems to him, he would look at them, rub his fingers together, tell me the answer, and then struggle to find simple ways to explain it to me.
2) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: My Father’s Kidnapping – Published in The NewYork Times, May, 30th, 2015.
On the morning he was kidnapped, he had a bag of okpa, apples and bottled water that my mother had packed for him. He was in the back seat of his car, his driver at the wheel, on a lonely stretch between Nsukka, the university town where he lives, and Abba, our ancestral hometown. He was going to attend a traditional meeting of men from his age group. A two-hour drive. My mother was planning their late lunch upon his return: pounded yam and a fresh soup. They always called each other when either traveled alone. This time, he didn’t call. She called him and his phone was switched off. They never switched off their phones. Hour after hour, she called and it remained off. Later, her phone rang, and although it was my father’s number calling, a stranger said, “We have your husband.”
There’s a kind of uncertainty hovering around. There’s so much going on in the world. I like to think of this period as being covered by a cloud of darkness. However, in the midst of all the uncertainties and darkness and sadness, this should be a reminder;
May we always be grateful for those we love and those who love us.
May we always ‘hail’ them.