Chimamanda will give historic BBC Reith lecture

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning writer, will deliver BBC Reith’s landmark first lecture for 2022.

The iconic Reith Lectures were introduced by the BBC in 1948, to mark the historic contribution made to public service broadcasting by Sir John (later Lord) Reith, the society’s first chief executive. Lord Reith believed that broadcasting should be a public service that enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the world. To maintain this tradition, the BBC selects a prominent personality each year to give a series of lectures. According to the BBC, since their inauguration, over the years the Reith Lectures have provided insight “into the work of some of the world’s greatest thinkers”.

Past Reith lecturers include various Nobel laureates such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung Sung Su Kyi and Nobel Literature laureates Bertrand Russell and Professor Wole Soyinka. Other distinguished personalities include world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking; and former Governor of the Bank of England and Bank of Canada, Mark Carney.

Adichie’s selection to give the prestigious lecture represents yet another distinction. The writer has received worldwide recognition for his work, which has been translated into more than thirty languages ​​and has won numerous prizes and awards.

Adichie has consistently produced thought-provoking articles and delivered captivating talks to audiences around the world: including two landmark TED Talks, “The Danger of One Story” (2009), which has become one of most-watched TED talks in history; and “We Should All Be Feminists” (2012) – which was later released in book form due to popular demand.

2022 is a landmark year for the BBC, as it is the 100th anniversary of its creation. To mark the centenary, the BBC has chosen to have a special series of lectures on freedom, by four eminent personalities, based on a speech by former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

BBC Radio 4 Controller Mohit Bakaya said: “In this centenary year of the BBC, I wanted to seek four perspectives on this complex idea based on FDR’s famous Four Freedoms Speech – a speech delivered in 1941 to a such a precarious time for the world. I am thrilled that these four brilliant thinkers have agreed to explore freedom with their knowledge and expertise.

Adichie will deliver a lecture on freedom of speech, with the other lectures (on freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear respectively), being delivered by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams; Darren McGarvey, award-winning author and musical artist; and Dr. Fiona Hill, foreign affairs expert and former adviser to US Presidents George W. Bush, Donald Trump and Barack Obama.

The conference will be recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC News Broadcasting House in London on October 31 and broadcast on BBC Radio from November 30, 2022.


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Angela C. Hale