Books·Black History Month

Why Now or Never host Ify Chiwetelu admires Chimamanda Adichie

The CBC Radio host has a personal connection with the award-winning author of novels such as Americanah.
Ify Chiwetelu is co-host of CBC Radio's Now or Never. (CBC)

It's Black History Month. Throughout February, CBC Books is asking CBC hosts to recommend a Black author or book written by a Black writer that is meaningful to them.

Ify Chiwetelu, host of CBC Radio's Now or Never, admires Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the novel Americanah and the essay We Should All Be Feminists.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer of novels, short stories and nonfiction. (Joe Ryan)

"Chimamanda Adichie means the world to me. I read a lot as a kid, devouring any book that I could find and in the process, imagining myself in characters that didn't look like me with lives that were wildly different. It wasn't apparent to me just how much I missed being able to see myself in the books I was reading until I read Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie.

"For the first time, I saw dialogue that danced between English and Igbo, like my family conversations. There were characters with names that were familiar, even a character with my own name, Ifeoma! Chimamanda brought a kind of justice to the years I debated which Sweet Valley High sister I was more like or tried to identify with the lone Black babysitter in the Babysitters Club.

"I soon read Half of a Yellow Sun, and was dropped into life during Nigeria's civil war, a war that both my parents lived through but rarely spoke about. Her most recent novel, Americanah, is my story in so many ways. The characters battle and celebrate their identities, finding balance between being Nigerian and American, in a way that is painfully familiar.

"I could talk more about her powerful TED Talks, or her essays on feminism, but she is most special to me for beautifully articulating stories that resonate so deeply, that sometimes I forget they aren't my own."

Ify Chiwetelu hosts Now or Never, heard nationally Saturdays on CBC Radio One. A Nigerian-born, former Calgarian, Ify quit a job in the energy sector to pursue her creativity. She has written articles for CBC Comedy and is a contributing writer for the upcoming season two of CBC's hit television show Baroness von Sketch Show.


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