Half of a Yellow Sun – When telling the truth becomes an insult

Half of a Yellow Sun was inspired by the Nigeria Civil War  and more personal to the Igbos called Biafra War. It tells the story from the survivors point of view.

As close as Yoruba were to the Igbos, I did not learn a thing at school about the Biafra War, my mother occasionally would mention the war and talked about what she heard went on at the time. She once talked about a young baby being thrown into a boiling palm oil left to sizzle infront of the mother before she herself was shot. She usually talked about Biafra War whenever she felt my town might end up like the Biafra – well not quite given we are only a tiny fraction of a tribe.

I was not excited to read HOAYS given I have heard a lot about it, but because everyone seems to get slightly different messages, so I decided to give it a go so as to draw my conclusion. I was not disappointed, well about the naked truth of Biafra War – had a few days nightmare though because Adichie did not leave lots for imagination, she did a wonderful job just as Nigerians whether we like it or not needed.

My nightmares were not out of pity for the Igbos for the nearly three million people who were killed in the most horrendous ways possible, I could not pretend that I knew how Ndigbos felt especially when you see your friend being blown up right in front of your eyes or when you see a driver being cajoled to give details of his background to determine which part of the country they are from, only to be shot a minute after because his tribe is the enemy.

What gave me nightmares was the fact that today the issues that caused Biafra War are still unresolved. We play down many of important issues as if they don’t matter hence we have endless bloodshed all over the country. Boko Haram a few hour ago.

We are one country not by our making in any sense, however we can run with what we have and make the best of it by celebrating our uniqueness.

Just finished watching the movie which is very well made, still packed with emotional scenes. Now I can see why HOAYS was a good enough historical movie to be screened in Toronto and London with no problem whatsoever but took three months and endless back and forth on some editorials before it was allowed in Nigeria movie theatres – because in Nigeria telling the truth is insults.

In one of the scenes where Odenigbo and Ms Adebayo were both having serious conversations about the war, Ms Adebayo being a Yoruba took an offence when Odenigbo resented Yoruba Monarchs for sending gratitude notes to the northern Emirs for excluding the Yorubas from the killing spree. Odenigbo’s response to Adebayo was that she was only offended because he was telling the truth. Why is the truth so hard to swallow forty-seven years ago and still today especially when you point to the wrong doings of the royal families?

This is where Nigeria is today – unless we face the bitter truth of our past, we stand no chance of moving forward. Not even if Nigeria becomes a new Mecca/Jerusalem, oh and we adopt Cuba because those guys still worship Obatala/Orisa.

I can only say thank you to Ms Adichie and to the director and the crew of HOAYS the movie. Both provided me with lots of information about my country – the ones that most from outside of the Igbo are not aware of.