Catholic University Belgium Honours Chimamanda

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As author speaks on fragility of truth

World-renowned author and feminist icon, Chimamanda  Adiche, has received an honorary doctorate degree from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

The degree which is her 16th honorary doctorate was conferred on her at the main campus of the University in Louvain-la-Neuve, 20 kilometers from Brussels, Belgium.

Rector of the institution, Vincent Blondel, said the writer, “develops a discourse on gender equality rooted in singular experience and is universal in scope. She focuses on the experience of differences and makes us feel the fragility of what we sometimes hold to be true without having questioned it.”

Giving their good words about the award-winning writer, Professor of English Literature at the UCL, Daria Tunica described Chimamanda as one of her generation’s most gifted writers, who is very frank in her writings and also in her views. “Adiche’s work is filled with love and warmth, so it shows us our good sides, but also confronts us with our darker sides”, she added.

Soraya Amrani, former cultural columnist on arte Belgium noted that whether it’s about the relations on the African continent or the questions of feminism, Chimamanda has anticipated all the major questions that have arisen since the mid-2010s on an international scale. Melissa Diantete, Literary Instagrammer said “It feels good to read Chimamanda in that, as a young black woman, I can finally identify with stories that resemble mine. She talks with a new perspective about the diversity of profiles, the African diaspora, and her experience in the US”.

In her acceptance speech, Chimamanda thanked the university and the management for the honour. Speaking on the theme of the ceremony, “The Fragility of Truth,” she said, “There is mounting disinformation all over the world with severe consequences for all of us, and today it is easy to dress up a lie so nicely that it starts to take on the glow of the truth. It is time for us to seek truth and to insist on measures that make it possible for truth to prevail”.

Calling for people to embrace truth in all they do, Chimamanda said that ‘what matters is that we reject the unending paralysis of waiting for the perfect conditions before we do what is right. But the truth is not fragile only with other people. We are complicit, and we must look inwards and examine ourselves. This is a time for all of us, to tell the truth, the full truth. When we choose to censor ourselves because of the consequences of telling the truth, we make truth fragile, when we participate in the algorithm-driven machine outrage of social media without looking first at primary sources, without looking at the full context, without having a full understanding, we make truth fragile”. “This is a time to look inwards, to examine ourselves”, she added.

Founded by Pope Martin V in 1425, the Catholic University of Louvain, often abbreviated as UCLouvain, is one of the oldest Catholic universities in Europe and the biggest French-speaking university in Belgium. With campuses spread around six locations in Belgium, playing host to 15 schools and faculties, the university boasts of famous alumni including mathematician Vitold Belevich and Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

Asides from Chimamanda, two notable persons were also conferred with honorary doctorate degrees. Michael Mann, an American climatologist and geophysicist for his contributions to the study of climate change, and Florence Aubenas, a French journalist, writer, and reporter for her contributions to the reporting world through in-depth reporting, field investigations, and works of fiction.

This is Chimamanda’s 16th honorary doctorate. She has received honorary degrees from some of the world’s best universities, including Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Edinburgh, Duke University,  Georgetown University, and Johns Hopkins University.

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