Chimamanda Adichie debunks Anne Giwa-Amu’s claims of plagiarism
Award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has denied claims of plagiarism made against her by another writer Anne Giwa-Amu.
In a Youtube video published on March 14, Giwa-Amu accused Adichie of copying a novel “Sade” which was published in 1996 for her critically acclaimed 2006 novel “Half of a Yellow Sun”.
Giwa-Amu, who is mixed Nigerian and Welsh, stated in the video that she discovered the supposed plagiarism in 2013 when she saw a poster in London advertising the Biyi Bandele film adaptation of Adichie’s novel Half of A Yellow Sun which stars Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and BAFTA Award winner Thandie Newton.
Giwa-Amu claimed that when she discovered that the film’s plot was similar to her own novel (Sade), she purchased Adichie’s novel to further ascertain her suspicions.
In a 54 pages long document published on her blog, Giwa-Amu tabulated her perceived similarities between “Sade” and Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”.
Wylie Agency, which represents Adichie, said in a statement that Giwa-Amu’s claims are “libellous”.
Wylie said a court in the United Kingdom dismissed the plagiarism claims when Giwa-Amu approached it.
The agency said a professional independent reader was appointed by the court to read both “Sade” and “Half of a Yellow Sun”, and “the reader concluded that there was absolutely no basis for Giwa-Amu’s claim and advised that the claim should not be pursued.”
“On 15 February 2019, Anne Giwa-Amu’s claim brought against Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her publishers was struck out by the court. The court determined that her claim was ‘an abuse of the court’s process,” Wiley said in the statement.
It was further revealed that the court-ordered Giwa-Amu to pay Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her publishers the sum of £14,250 (₦6,310,702), which she has failed to pay. She was also ordered to pay the legal costs Adichie incurred in defending her claim.
A source at the agency told The Guardian that Giwa-Amu has not paid the money has ordered by the court and that further legal actions may be taken against her.
The Achebe Link?
In the video, Giwa-Amu spoke about the role of Chinua Achebe in the publication of her novel, Sade. In 1995, she said she sent her manuscripts to Heineman Educational Books in the UK where Chinua Achebe worked with the African Writers Series project as an editor. She eventually self-published as Heinemann Educational Books wrote to her that they could not publish her book due to a drop in demand for books under the African Writers Series.
In 1998, she sent her manuscript to Heinemann Education Books Nigeria where Achebe who sat as one of the board of directors and “decision-maker” approved it for publication. Heinemann Education Books Nigeria published Shade in 1999.
Achebe who is fondly called “the father of African literature” has often been cited as a father-figure and mentor to Adichie. Giwa-Amu also buttressed the relationship between Adichie and Achebe which she insinuated was exploited in the supposed “stealing” of her own work.
But according to the statement, Adichie and her publishers had never heard of Giwa-Amu’s novel until she brought her claim.
The source at Wylie said Adichie acknowledged and gave credits to the books she consulted while working on the book.
“In that book, Chimamanda acknowledged 30 books she consulted during her research.” the source said.