Skip to main content

Chetachi Igbokwe: What it Means to Attend Chimamanda Adichie’s Writing Workshop

Chetachi Igbokwe is a final year student of English and Literary Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is the current editor of the University of Nigeria’s student journal, The Muse, a journal of creative and critical writing, founded by Chinua Achebe in 1963. He is a 2019 alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop, facilitated by the Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

What was it like having to be taught by the amazing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Was it your first time of applying? 

CHETACHI IGBOKWE: Thanks to Black Boy Review for affording me this platform. I respect Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and being taught by her was a great deal for me. Having read everything she has published thus far, starting from her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was a tour de force, it is evident that every generation must feel blessed to be graced with a writer like her. Originally, I knew about the workshop from close friends. I also knew how very competitive it was but I never applied because I despised competitions—especially as regards the arts where I think there cannot be any proper scale for judging the best.

In 2018, I applied because Onyeka Nwelue, a writer and filmmaker whom I respect, sent me the link and in my mind, I said, “Onyeka thinks I can get in.” I didn’t get an acceptance that year, but I got a ‘blurbable’ message from Adichie: Yours was among the most promising entries I read.” When I applied for the 2019 workshop, I didn’t hope to get in; I only applied to also get another beautiful blurb from Her Majesty. But I was elated when I received the acceptance mail.

What were the highlights of your classes? What major things did you go home with? Would you want to repeat a class like this?

CHETACHI IGBOKWEThe highlights of the classes include writing exercises as well as readings and discussions on fictional and non-fictional stories. We read short stories by which Eghosa Imaseun exposed us to different forms of writings on people and on places. 
I particularly loved that Adichie read all the stories submitted by the participants and discussed each person’s writing, pointing out strengths and weaknesses. She was honest with her responses and this heightened my adoration of her. Largely, this is because not every mentor can give constructive criticisms on a mentee's craft.  She was also very open to answering questions, even the most personal or informal ones. In all, I went home with the validation that I am a writer.

Indeed, I must say that I look up to other classes, but then again it would definitely not be the Purple Hibiscus Workshop, and this is because other writers need to get in there too if they must hone their skills appropriately.

Tell us about other extra activities aside the class as well as your best moments with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie?

CHETACHI IGBOKWE: I met new people and had important conversations with them. We shared our stories, built a network. Lola Shoneyin taught us a game I think she called ‘Devil’s Murderer,’ where a silent killer uses eye blinks to kill.  Shoneyin gave so much life to the workshop. 

My best moment with Adichie was the time she was giving feedback to my story, The Thing that Comes. Let me brag a little here: CNA affirmed that I am a beautiful storyteller because I appropriated something she calls ‘Righteous Anger.’ According to her, though, righteous anger when not well-managed can block us from seeing the humane parts of the characters in our stories. In her words, “Sometimes, one needs to put one's righteous anger aside in order to create art.”

What has changed after the class? Are you working on new projects? Let us know what can propel more young people to apply the next time.

I now see stories with a new lens. I learned that the little things we ignore are the things that even make great stories and that we can include them through keen observation and patience. 

I am currently the editor of the University of Nigeria student’s journal, The Muse. It’s a journal of creative and critical writing:an annual publication of the Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka which was founded by Chinua Achebe in 1963. I hope to work hard with other associate editors on the board to give the very best. 

More so, I am revisiting my old short stories and writing new ones too. I have written a play that I so much love. Whenever I pick it up to reread, I don’t get bored. Perhaps, I will publish it first. I am not so happy that attention is not being paid to the dramatic genre of literature. Publishers are hardly interested in plays; there are little or no prizes and even audiences. But because a story teaches us how to write them, that story came to me as a play, and I have written it as such. I also have a blog,, where I publish my thoughts on politics, literature, theatre, film, painting, and music. 

I hope that every young writer gets into the Purple Hibiscus Class. Chimamanda knows how to help you find both your voice and feet and I am grateful for what she is doing for young creatives in Africa.  


Popular posts from this blog

The Mark of the Lost: A Review of Chetachi Igbokwe’s Stage Play -Homecoming

In a time when theatres face a dearth of good pieces and theatrical performances gradually fade into plain text, the need for a homecoming of the art form, its representation of the dramatic, becomes important. Homecoming is an unpublished play that brings to the fore, the old craft of tragic dramatic art. Written by Chetachi Igbokwe and directed by Ugochukwu Victor Ugwu. The play premiered at the New Arts Theatre, University of Nigeria, Nsukka under the auspices of the Maestro Theatre. The play, which more beautifully, is a debut, brings you closer to African art, draws you in to fear, pity, myth, and of course plunges you afresh into a communion of tragedy; that man is born broken, for he lives by mending his brokenness, and only his chi becomes his death or salvation. The play is an Act on three characters: Nwakibe, Adannaya, his wife, and Nebeolisa, a lost son who appears to us as just Mr. Johnson; a writer from Moldova who becomes a neighbor to Nwakibe, whom he rents a room o

MEMORY'S INESCAPABILITY: A review of IFÉSINÀCHI NWÁDIKÈ'S How Morning Remembers The Night by Ikechukwu Iwuagwu

Author: Ifésinàchi Nwádikè' Publisher: Winepress Publishing & Griots Lounge Publishing Year: 2020 Pagination: 66 Reviewer: Ikechukwu Iwuagwu The inextricability of literature and reality is a standard which gives literary pieces varying degrees of quality. Grief, sorrow, regret, joy and happiness amongst others are fabrics or components which lace our memories. Ifesinachi Nwadike's 33 poem collection titled How Morning Remembers the Night bares relentlessly the colour and mien of memories as regard to the poet, and by extension his immediate society. Ushering us in with an introit which in my view, is a painting with words which gives us a nutshell of this literary master piece, more or less a foreshadow, Nwadike shows his proclivity for activism and concern for ones nation:   Grief came knocking on my heart's door... Grief of a comrade, in a hurry, No goodbyes...    Of activists, nationalists, patriots whose bloods, their nation's root sprout in

Dalu's Diary by Ogechi Ezeji : Children's Literature in Nigeria is Coming Back

I felt like a child once again, after reading Ogechi Ezeji’s Dalu’s Diary , a book of fiction for children and adults alike.The feeling I got from reading this work is akin to the one I got from reading Chinua Achebe’s Chike and the River , Onuora Nzekwu’s Eze Goes to School, Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Drummer Boy and all other great children fictions of Nigeria’s literary golden age, so many years ago. In the story, little Chukwudalu Aniche is obsessed with his diary, which he kept and wrote in at every turn of an important event that moves him to write. He initially lived in Owerri with his parents, Mr and Mrs Aniche and his beloved uncle Akachi, before his accountant father was transferred to Abuja, on account of his honesty and determination towards his job. Through Dalu’s diary, we are able to understand the inner workings of the young boy’s mind, his family, his closeness with his uncle, his view of his maternal aunt and her erratic daughter and most of all, his percept