On March 1, 2021, the posthumous birthday of Prof. James Adichie (Chimamanda Adichie’s father), his wife, Mrs. Ifeoma Grace Adichie, passed on. My heartfelt condolences to Chimamanda and her siblings in these trying times. This is about five months after Prof. Adichie left this world. And now, Chimamanda’s mother….
Sometime in 2012, I sat for the very first time in Prof. Adichie’s sitting room at Nsukka, listening to him. His wife, Mrs. Grace Adichie, came in smiling. She placed a can of malt by my side. I was awed by the simplicity of the Adichies. There were no airs about the importance their name possessed. By this time, Mrs. Grace Adichie had already retired as the first female Registrar of the University of Nigeria and her husband was the first professor of Statistics in Nigeria. Their daughter, Chimamanda Adichie, was already a household name in literary circles. I had met her earlier for the first time in 2007. I visited the Adichies several times before I co-authored the biography of Prof. James Adichie, which was published and launched in 2013. Memories….
With a winsome smile and a prim and proper demeanor, Mrs. Grace Adichie was the quintessential Igbo mother who supported the focus of her husband and children. The last time I spoke to her on phone, her sense of decorum was ever abiding. Memories….
Mrs. Adichie, Grace Ifeoma J.P. (nee Odigwe) was born on November 29, 1942. She attended the Rosary High School, Enugu from 1956 to 1958, and the Queen of the Rosary College, Onitsha from 1959 to 1960, obtaining the West African School Certificate Div. II in 1960. She proceeded to Merit College, Oakland California, USA in 1964 and was there until 1967 when the civil war in Nigeria broke out. After the war, she gained admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka to complete her undergraduate programme. She was in the University from 1970 to 1972. She obtained her B.Sc Hons (Sociology/Anthropology) Second Class Honours (Upper Division) (Nigeria) in 1972.
Mrs. Adichie worked as Assistant Secretary IV. In the Cabinet Office Enugu (Oct. 1972-Jun. 1973); Assistant Divisional Officer, Nsukka Urban (July 1973-Nov. 1973).
At the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, she worked as Administrative Officer II (Dec. 1973-Sept. 1975); Administrative Officer I (Oct. 1975-Sept. 1977); Assistant Registrar (Oct. 1977-Sept. 1979); Senior Assistant Registrar (Oct. 1979-Sept. 1981); Principal Assistant Registrar (Oct. 1981-Sept. 1985); Deputy Registrar (Oct. 1985-Oct. 1995); Acting Registrar (Nov. 1995-Jan. 2001) and then Registrar (The First Female Registrar, University of Nigeria, Nsukka) from February 2001 to November 2002.
As Registrar of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Mrs. Adichie served as Secretary to: The Governing Council and its various committees; The Senate and its many committees; The Convocation, and, The Congregation.
Mrs. Adichie represented the University of Nigeria in the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) from 2000 to 2002; Member, Governing Council, Anambra State University, Uli Dec. 2005 to April 2006 etc. Her career in the University was service to humanity.
She was a member of the Catholic Women Organization; and, member of the ladies of St. Mulumba, Nigeria. She put in active participation in the affairs of the two bodies.
Mrs. Adichie was awarded with the Merit Award of Distinguished Administrator, Motivator and Mother by Medico Esposa, Nsukka 2002; University of Nigeria, Nsukka Best Administrator 2002; Nominated for the PSR Development, in Nigeria Women Merit; Award (Education Category) March, 2003; Igbo Women Role Model Leadership Award, 2006; she was nominated for the LEFODEC women of integrity, selflessness and Excellence (WISE) Award 2007.
She attended the following seminars in her pursuit for better understanding of ways to serve humanity: Seminar on “Influence of Organizational climate on Productivity” organized by The Nigerian Institute of Management and held at Enugu in October 1985; “Women in Management: Challenges of the Nineties.“ Organized by the NIM and held at Hotel Presidential, Enugu; “Women in Management in the African Diaspora” held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1992; and, Senior Management Course in Higher Education held at Oxford University/University of Warwick, July 1997.
As part of her philosophy in life, she had a strong belief in God the Creator of the Universe and a strong belief also in the Golden rule. She fought for equal opportunities for men and women.
She married the foremost professor of Statistics, Prof. James N. Adichie on April 15, 1963 and they are blessed with six lovely children, including the award-winning author, Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie.
Jeff Unaegbu is a Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka