Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Wellesley College, 2015 Commencement Speech

Last Updated: May 16, 2024

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Wellesley College, 2015 Commencement Speech

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Wellesley College, 2015

Introduction: Gratitude and Reflection

Good morning, Wellesley. I am so honored to be here today. Thank you to President Bottomly, the Board of Trustees, the faculty, the staff, and, most importantly, the class of 2015.

Embracing Feminism and Authenticity

When I was a child, I loved to read. I read everything I could find. But I didn’t always see myself in the books I read. I grew up in Nigeria, and most of the characters in the books I loved were not like me. They were white and lived in a place that was very different from my home. This made me feel like people like me didn’t matter, that our stories were not important.

But then I discovered African writers, and my world changed. I began to see myself in the books I read. I realized that people like me could also exist in literature. This was a revelation.

This realization is why I believe it’s so important to tell your own stories, to find your voice, and to embrace who you are. Your story is important. Your voice matters.

The Danger of a Single Story

We live in a world where many stories are told about us, but we must be careful of the danger of a single story. When only one narrative is told, it becomes the definitive story. But the truth is, there is never a single story. Each of us has multiple stories that make up who we are.

I remember when I first came to America to attend college. My roommate was surprised that I spoke English so well. She didn’t know that English is the official language of Nigeria. She had only heard a single story about Africa, and it was one of catastrophe and poverty. This single story limited her understanding of the vastness and diversity of the African continent.

Embrace Multiple Identities

As you graduate today, I urge you to embrace all the stories that make up who you are. Don’t let anyone define you with a single story. Be proud of your heritage, your culture, and your identity. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your own story.

I also want to talk about feminism. When I was growing up, I didn’t know that the word “feminist” existed, but I knew that I didn’t like the way girls were treated differently from boys. When I learned the word “feminist,” I embraced it. I am a feminist because I believe in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

Conclusion: Embrace Your Power

Class of 2015, you are graduating into a world that needs you, your voice, and your stories. Don’t be afraid to embrace your power. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Don’t be afraid to be a feminist.

Congratulations to you all. I cannot wait to see the amazing things you will do. Thank you.

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