Here is the full text and summary of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech titled “Above all else, do not lie.” Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie addressed Harvard’s Class of 2018 on Class Day, May 23, 2018. We produce here the full verbatim transcript of the speech for everyone.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a writer of short stories, and nonfiction. She has written the novels Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun and many others.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Good afternoon. Harvard Class of 2018, hello.
Thank you so much for asking me to be here today. It meant a lot to me, to know that you, the students, select the class day speaker. Thank you.
Congratulations to you and to all your loved ones who are here.
I spent a wonderful year at the Radcliffe Institute here at Harvard, doing a fellowship in 2011 and I fell in love with Cambridge and so it’s very good to be back.
My name is Chimamanda; in Igbo, it means my personal spirit will never be broken. I’m not sure why but some people find it difficult to pronounce.
A few years ago, I spoke at an event in London. The English woman who was to introduce me had written my name phonetically on a piece of paper. And backstage she held on tightly to this paper while repeating the pronunciation over and over. I could tell, she was very eager to get it right.