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'And Above All Else, Don't Lie:' Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Urges Harvard's Class of 2018 to Live In Truth

The author was open and honest in her Class Day address at Harvard University on Wednesday.

Prolific Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was the Class Day Speaker yesterday at Harvard University, where she delivered a forthright address about the power of living in truth.

The writer told a memorable anecdote about the time she met a famous writer and stretched the truth by saying she was a fan of his work, though she hadn't read it. His wife immediately responded by asking Adichie which of his works was her favorite. She was then forced to make up an answer: "The one about the man discovering himself?," she said.

The experience left her acutely aware of why the truth matters and impressed by his wife's ability to detect disingenuousness. She urged graduates to recognize that both qualities are important. "I'm not asking you to tell the truth because it will always work out," she said, "But because you will sleep well at night."

"So have a good bullshit detector. If you don't have it now, work on it," she added.


She also spoke about the political decline of the United States, largely brought on by Trump's presidency. "America always felt aspirational — but today the political discourse in America is from the land of the absurd," she said, urging graduates to use truth and courage as a means of challenging political ills.

"Sometimes, especially in politicized spaces, telling the truth will be an act of courage. Be courageous. Never set out to provoke for the sake of provoking, but never silence yourself out of fear that a truth you speak might provoke. Be courageous."

Watch Adichie's full Harvard Class Day 2018 speech below, starting at the 1:31:10 mark.

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