Award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie will become the first black woman to deliver a speech at the University of Pennsylvania.
The last woman to deliver the commencement speech was the then Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Patricia Harris in 1978.
“In May 2020, Chimamanda Adichie will become the first black woman since 1978 to deliver a commencement speech…” a message from African Facts Zone read.
Students at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the 8 Ivy League universities in the US erupted in celebration as Chimamanda was announced the speaker for the 2020 Commencement Day.
According to reports, the author of Americanah will also be honoured with the ‘Doctor of Humane Letter’ (LHD) at the event which is scheduled for May 2020.
The Doctor of Humane Letter is only reserved for those who have excelled in their chosen professions which, according to the President of the University of Pennsylvania, is the institution’s highest degree.
In a statement, the institution noted that Chimamanda’s works are compelling narratives and fascinating commentary which touch on complex cultural issues, elevating the power of the individual voice.
The Daily Pennsylvanian, a student newspaper of the institution, reported on the buzz and praise from students and staff of the institution. College senior Maria Curry noted that Chimamanda Adichie’s status as an author adds variety to University’s past commencement speakers which featured politicians and entertainers.
Undergraduate Assembly President Natasha Menon had only praise for Chimamanda’s TED talk saying “the way she’s able to tell stories and talk about really pressing issues is pretty extraordinary.”
A year ago, the Nigerian was hosted by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show where she touched on chivalry and shocked many people when she pointed out that opening doors should not be gender-based.
‘’I think gestures like holding the door shouldn’t be gender-based. I think it’s a lovely thing to hold the door but we should hold the door for everyone.
“Like, I hold the door for men and women. And so I think the idea of someone holding the door for a woman because she’s a woman…I have trouble with it.
“Because chivalry is really about the idea that women are somehow weak and need protection. But we know that really, there are many women who are stronger than many men,’’ said Chimamanda.