Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The world has to know the truth of what is happening because they simply cannot remain silent while we die. - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Adichie's novel illuminates the reality and disintegration of Nigerian life in wartime during the 1960s. The Biafran war waged between 1967-70 was Nigeria's politically and ethnically charged battle of North vs South, specifically the southeastern region, where the unsuccessful fight for secession left 1 million civilians dead. Half of a yellow sun describes the Biafran flag; it symbolized the struggle of its people for independence and a brighter tomorrow.


Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the North, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of a yellow sun stood for the glorious future.


The novel features the daily lives of Igbo people of different social levels from the well educated and bourgeois to illiterate country peasants. Adichie's characters are strongly defined individuals whose personal lives and interrelationships go through fragmentation and change, their rise and fall in violent tandem with the country's horrific civil war.


There are some things that are so unforgivable that they make other things easily forgivable..


Although the story centers on the love-hate conflict between twin sisters Olanna and Kianene, moving from jealousy, betrayal, and distrust, the more compelling tale belonged to Ugwu - the good natured, loyal houseboy - who rose up through better education, but miserably fell when, conscripted in the army, his vicious regrettable action would leave him self-loathing, morally decayed and damaged forever.


This was the most visceral war novel I've read in a while, on a region not well known to me. Adichie's voice is powerful, genuine, resonant in the narrative of Biafra's painful victory and defeat; in the story of the resulting broken lives, and a country's blood -soaked odyssey.


For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it must always be heard. - James Baldwin





I had no interest in writing a polemic. I was aware that the book would in the end reflect my world view--it would be a book concerned with the ordinary person, a book with unapologetic Biafran sympathies, but also a book that would absolutely refuse to romanticize the war. I wanted to avoid making Biafra a utopia -in -retrospect, which would have been disingenuous-- it would have sullied the memories of all those who died.
African Authenticity" and the Biafran Experience by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Transition, No. 99 (2008)