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.

Categories: A Yoruba Monarch, Nigeria

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39 replies

    I enjoyed how the comments touched on other areas too.

    I see you had a comment from the son of a Kabiyesi sef!

    Such a PITY that his reasoning still lingers with that of his great-grand father’s generation. His father must have been quite the progressive sort because he ‘saved’ Igbos. I worry that if God forbid. the same situation comes about today, with the venom he made his comment here with & the direction of his reasoning, I worry that he would most likely not follow in his father’s footsteps. I have always thanked my stars that I was not born into a royal family, this guy has given me another reason to be doubly thankful I am not of royal blood.

    My father told me stories of the ‘ARABA’ (Divide) reprisals killings that took place in the north after the Col. Nzeogu Kaduna band killed mainly northern political leaders in the 1966 coup. He always wept when he did. He refused to join the war efforts then because of what he saw. What he described was like the Rwanda experienced. It was the northerners that wanted the country to split then. My Hausa brothers where led to believe the solution to all the problems in the world was to kill the Igbos & drive them into the sea. HOAYS captured the period from an Igbo perspective. I hope to do something about the perpetrators end, based on my dad’s tales in the future. Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of Chimamanda’s recent works (after HOAYS I felt shortchanged when I read one of her other work) But truth be said, HOAYS was a masterpiece. IT DOCUMENTED THE TRUTH… Watered down considerably. Most Nigerians don’t know half of it.

    We are just cruel in our nature, most people are. The Arabs & Europeans displayed worse with their slave trade, roasted & gassed Jews, the Americas did worse to the Indians they massacred, Arabs & Africans are still at it. God, I wonder when this madness will end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Yasniger for shedding more lights into this, Nigeria needs you to write that book from the Northerners perspective, w’ll thank you for it.

      You are right on the last paragraph, Africa is still at it and mostly our victims are own kind just because that is the way our great-grand fathers lived their lives – very sad.

      Liked by 1 person


    Liked by 1 person

    • Adenle S.A – First of, thank you for stopping by and for the somewhat provocative comment.

      I read and watched HOAYS as a Nigerian rather than a Yoruba. Although I was not around during Biafra, however, it is not difficult to relate with the story (might just be stretched truth) because everything in that movie is not too different from the reality of today’s Nigeria.

      As a Yoruba I have plenty to say about our kings that is not the usual given praises for the undeserved royal families. I don’t want to be rude to my elders and god forbid to my king, however, when my king has the mentality that could only be associated with dark ages, they do not deserve the respect we give them.

      For me, HOAYS is a metaphor to all problems we have within Nigeria if we can only look beyond differences in ethnicity a bit.

      Take for example Obama just announced news about immigrants, hundreds of which you can bet are Nigerians and in Yorubaland of today Our Premier king of Ile Ife, the cradle of Yoruba still grabbing lands from Modakekes, the land they have occupied for over 300 years – this is the point of view in which my review of HOAYS was based.

      Glad you are a prince. Peace.


  3. I read the book a couple of month ago and I must say that it was well written. The sad thing about the issue is realizing that it is non-fiction, meaning that people were literally made to go through such an ordeal. Ms. Adichie captured lucidly each detail of this reckless part of history. I’m very certain that the movie lives up to its billing. I knew obviously that there will be delays in Nigeria before its allowed in theatres, because the movie tells a blunt truth about the recent-past. No lesson has been learnt from what transpired in the past and the earlier minute issues are discussed and adequate solutions are found, the earlier innocent lives will be saved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree, that is the saddest part – Knowing it is the truth of our nation that left untold also that in todays Nigeria, there is mini Biafra going on, Boko Haram a good example, although with religious fanatics the reason it’s been left for too long is because the victims is mainly the Northerners.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sister Folakemi, first and foremost, peace be with you, now and forever more, as for your post, quite interesting, as you know my views are based on an understanding grounded (somewhat naively) on an American knowledge base and as such carries not the appreciation of your own. Now, that said (primarily for those who know me not) let me “go off” the peoples of Nigeria may not all be from the same tribal background, nor do they share in fact a common goal for the country, yet in spite of this they seek a valued and collective future even if leadership (hello Goodluck) is shaky and in the pockets of monied interests from afar. The fighting between the people and the threats and destruction carried out by Boko Harem and Al Qaeda et al, none withstanding, will not be the demise of the country (way too much mineral wealth for Britain to allow that) the film is a good illustration of what can happen when people listen to ‘so-called’ leaders, isn’t that why all “civil wars” start? No one can equate justice in that manner: from the barrel of a gun, really? Justice, really? Ignorance of history (the Biafra conflict) is a sure way to witness it once more. I firmly believe you are not alone in that regard – 47 years is not that long – people do what they feel is in their best interest, irregardless of the consequences to others, that’s called life. As for the people who seem to think back i the day, the slave trade was something Nigerians should be ashamed of, get real, grow up and move on. The treatment of Africans in America can not and should not be traced back to that sorry episode in history. Hell, people in this country didn’t need that ‘crutch’ to mistreat black folk, read the freaking constitution and the bill of rights and all the other documents written for the men (emphasis on the word men) of privilege who wrote the damn thing. Forget about the stupidity of the laws of the time that allowed run-way slaves to be picked up and returned (even if you were a “free-born” man of color as was one of my ancestors) to a plantation owner as his ‘property’ the book/movie 12 years a slave ring a bell, not a flipping Nigerian in sight, so put that B.S. someplace dark, dank and funky. Black people in this country have been put upon forever and yet we survive and thrive and some of us actually turn around, extend a hand and help our brothers along the way (and blame not one – Nigerian – ancestor for our plight) yes, we have problems appreciating those of us (black folk are all one) on the mother continent and yes it primarily is down to where we get/got our information and thru what filter said information was feed us. Sister Folakemi is a welcomed fount of information and insight on Nigeria and Africa in her own right and I appreciate her (even if she has a disdain for my “bff”) forthrightness, strength and courage

    Liked by 1 person

    • Been waiting for sometime now, you did not disappoint, thank you!

      Wish enough of balanced narrative on the past events will eventually be made available for all to read now that people are interested in knowing, well in my case, I am doing well lumping all together.

      Ha ha, you do know what gets my blood boiling, if your bff knows a little bit of Nigeria history, he’d have left Jerusalem Wailing Wall in peace.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Riddle me this: why the hell was he there – at the wall – anyway? Just what visiting politicians do when they go to Jerusalem so he did as well, or was he (lord knows I hate saying this) serious?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Isn’t he your bff? – ask him man!

          Okay, I am a good girl so would ‘muddle’ it up like I know best. Most Nigerians loved to be seen as religious, so Mecca and Jerusalem have huge chunk of our national budget yearly. The more we visit the worse be become religious -wise. GEJ is desperate for the 2nd term, his way of proving holiness is by visiting the Wailing Wall with bunch of other religious leaders to show Nigerians he’s the ‘chosen’ one because God spoken to them while at the wall.

          No kidding you will be amazed how simple it is to gain popularity in Nigeria – But my thing is – this is 2014, let’s find our own very wall to pray to in Nigeria at least we wouldn’t have to waste limited resources along the way.

          And the Muslim brethren a few months back just finished their own trip, in which half of the time was spent taking selfies in Mecca, no kidding. My own state sponsored 189 people – we have 36 states, do the maths – I am mad at God for a reason LOL

          Liked by 2 people

    • Dark, dank and even funky has its place and its relevance. Accountability, ownership, truth not blame is what I speak of, if you want to call it BS so be it, sorry history-it may be-as you call it- but it’s still history, it’s your story so I will let you tell it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I read the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and all the other beautifully written decrees written by white men for their own rights and privileges. I’m confused about why we are confused about who we are dealing with!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Duh!!!!! And really now, “we” are not confused as to whom we’re dealing with (nor for that matter is the ‘media’) the multitudes of the (shall we say) less informed citizenry are easily led and conspicuously fed the ignorant pablum so eagerly digested: “all men are created equal” etc. plus the (seeming) ignorance of the Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon and company of the (ESPN) world continue to speak of the “problem” in the “black community” being the fault of the “black community” and the communities embrace of stupidity (education and proper usage of the “queens” language is for ‘others’ not us) and those of “us” who have ‘made it’ are the “victims of their jealousy” – say hello to the ‘pound cake’ man for me Bill – folk out here striving to survive will never be allowed to ‘make it’ to quote Bush the first: “wouldn’t be prudent” for that to occur. Listen people in ‘power’ will always be there as well their minions of ‘colour’ yearning to get a ‘decent tee-time’ allowing themselves to be used in the name of “progress” “we the people” my mahogany black arse!

        Liked by 1 person

        • It is sad though that people who knew better allowed themselves to be used.

          But please don’t be mad at me: I think President Obama has a very heavy weight on his shoulders – being the first black president, a lot is expected of him and even Africans on the continent and around the globe look up to him, can he ever do enough to satisfy everyone re race issue?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh please!!!!! Personally, I am so over the “Obama effect” dude simply refused to “lead”! Why, heaven only knows, perhaps when I get there (and yes ma’am, I’ll get there; just not anytime soon) I’ll find out. Unlike Goodluck, Barack offered so much and delivered so little, his temerity is astonishing in it’s obviousness. To often, ‘politicians’ think only of their reelection and not of the promises (unkept, always unkept) made to get them elected in the first place. Poor and minority peoples – in this wretched country at any rate – are always “pimped” by politicians with the audacity of “hope” and the language of “change” when in reality all they’re (or to put it in perspective: we’re) given is the same-old-same-old! Don’t get me wrong, Obama had his heart (I think) in the right place, whether or not his “soul” was there with it, I’ll/we’ll never really know: given the stated and obvious opposition he faced from day one, only history can judge. – poor guy – but sharing his skin-colour and (to some degree) heritage I appreciate fully his dogged (fingers crossed as I say this) determination to actually move the needle and get something done for the betterment of “us”. Nothing against “them”, but when they realize that both the ‘repugnant’ party and the ‘demigod’ party care as much for them as they “do” for us, well perhaps they’ll change their bizarrely odd hatred for him as well and begin to appreciate what a heavy burden he has lifting that damn ‘declaration of independence’ and ‘constitution’ as for Africa and the rest of the world placing their hope/desires upon his shoulders as well, damn ya’ll, his name is Barack, not Jesus! Yeah, the, uh, “Obama effect” and myself gone our separate ways, somewhere in the din of the noise heard loud and clear along Florrisant Avenue in Ferguson Missouri, or was it at the Fruitvale Station, or on any corner in Brooklyn, Cleaveland, or Los Angeles or hell, any place where black folk happen to encounter “John law” in America. Peace be with you my sister and please damnnit be safe over there as well – black folk killing black folk is just as dangerous as white cops killing black folks: either way, you’re just as dead –

            Liked by 1 person

            • I hear you loud and clear. And thank you for the objevtive viewpoints.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I was waiting for you to finally get to the point….” black folk killing black folk is just as dangerous as white cops killing black folks: either way, you’re just as dead. The proverbial….” what foot do you want cut of your left or your right?”

              Liked by 1 person

              • Listen, having lived through a time and in a place when simply by the colour of my skin I was viewed not as a man but a potential criminal, something to be watched and followed and if I did not ‘perform’ to the satisfaction of the observer, have my mere presence reported to the authorities – despite having been guilty of nothing more than walking down the street I happen to own a home on – the thought of a policeman questioning anyone for ‘walking’ I find repugnant and personally have no problem with said person acting “indignant” yet, as more information emerges from the farce that occurred in the grand jury room in Ferguson, I’m beginning to appreciate even more the hostility of the populace. Realize, when I speak of the emergence of the dissection of the transcripts and witness testimony, I speak not of what the “media” dictates, but the ACTUAL facts of the encounter, the verbiage used in describing his thoughts and actions by the policeman and the countless – discounted by the district attorney’s staff – witnesses to the same, coupled with the absolute lack of guidance provided by the D.A. I realize that in that place, the lives of young black men has no value, in theory and in concrete fact. How anyone – I’m talking to all the apologist wearing the same skin color as young mr. Brown – can think differently is quite frankly appalling. The recurring current theme of “black-on-black” crime is in reality a pathetic smoke screen. Before you criticize that opinion, look it up. Brown-on-Brown, White-on-White, White-on-Brown, White-on-Black, all the statistics in point of fact dispute that hoary chestnut, but is not as ‘damning’ an indictment. Black folk kill white folk, true enough, but then white folk kill white folk as well (perhaps the preponderance of non-black school and other mass killing shooters escape notice, not sure but believe they exist) so stop with the nonsense of black folk killing black folk as the basis for stating the policeman was right in shooting “unarmed, with his hands raised” mike brown. As for the foot I want to “cut off” neither, I’d rather walk with my eyes wide shut and my mind and reason firmly affixed to the reality of life as a black man in a country of naivety and mass-produce misconception and fear. It doesn’t matter where you live or who you allow to “refer” to you as friend, the person who knows not your “current” life situation will think no more of you than he/she/they think of me: “just another uppity niggah, better put that bastard back in his place” time to move on people, even in Nigeria

                Liked by 1 person

                • Thank you Mr Johnson for this. I think this recent case of Mike Brown is truly sad. Even, if he was not innocent, the incidence leading to his death was pathetic enough to make any black person think twice about dealing with non-black police. Shoot to kill then find out why you killed in the first place.

                  Yes, not only American problem but all black race and more so if you happen to be or want to live in America.

                  Nigerians, in this case have long way to go and must learn to love and appreciate one another if truly we ant others to see us in different, positive lights.


                  • AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!! Folakemi, Folakemi, Folakemi!!!! “Even if he was innocent”!!!!!! Et Tu Brute????? Oh my
                    Lord, no


                  • Now then, still can not comprehend you thinking that (not you) he was anything but your typical young black man, with a bit of a ‘tude fair enough, but to be gunned down and LEFT to bleed and die in the street for HOURS because of it? Oye Vay, what’s this world coming to? This is America, this is God-Damn America and this crap is not “supposed” to happen here – allegedly – yet and this is the significant part of this screed: the desecration of this kid’s character by the district attorney’s office, the police department of St Louis County and the news-media (sadly even the so-called ‘left leaning’ outlets) plus the condescending and coalescence of certain “black celebrities” who really should either know better or shut the HELL up (Charles – fat ass – Barkley) regardless of their totally unmasked contempt for their race, this shit (killing of unarmed black men) has gone on way to long in this country, always cowed in the guise of “keeping public order” this is America, not The Ukraine, not Syria, not Iraq, not South Africa or The Congo, not The CAR, not Nigeria, but damnnit this is “God Bless America” and young illiterate, itinerant, ignorant, dumb, stupid and black kids have been here for f’king 300 years! Hello!! Time to wake up and realize it is not a crime to be big, slow-witted, stubborn and black! No matter what your own misconceptions, preconceived, naive notions/thoughts and prejudices may, MAY, convince you. This kid – based just on WHY he was stopped – did not deserve to be shot 6-9 times! period end of sentence. My hands are up, don’t shoot!!


                    • Sorry about that, watching the morning news – why I don’t know – some white people are just undeniably pathetic in their ignorance! I still love you my sister, even if you consider me an “elder”!! (Must be my smile)

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Please don’t be sorry. The world needed people to show their emotions on issues like this to help us especially those who haven’t been at the receiving end of the stick first hand to have a feel of what it’s like.

                      Apologies if what I said brought about emotions but I was not in anyway making light of Mike Brown verdicts, it is event that everyone should feel uncomfortable about, understandably for black people around the world.

                      However, I do know that African continent have a role to play and indeed Nigeria by finding ways to take responsibility for our actions.
                      In the book/movie Half of a Yellow Sun, it is ‘us’ against ourselves and yet today, the country still suffer from the same problem as 50 years ago – not much learned.

                      Of course you love me, that’s a must! If my monarch rejected me as one of his kind, what hope do I have if not for a brother far away like you to comfort me 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Hello young lady (one of these days, you’re gonna slap me for those words) currently awaiting yet another grand jury to give a verdict of not guilty to yet another policeman in the death of another unarmed black man – this time in Brooklyn New York – will respond to you later. By the by, no need to apologize, I was not offended

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha, the jokes on “us”, yet another non indictment ruling!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Just seeing the video clip of the NY guy…heartbreaking. Now, forgive me Baba, can see your points. Not that I doubted you before. Just too many of these you must have seeing in your lifetime! Very sad, makes one powerless. The guy’s head held tightly + choked on the pavement for selling illegal cigarettes!

                      Long way to go reverse this believe and thank God for the social media at least the whole world can see.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Pity that there are people who “wear” my skin colour who concur and even defend these practices, simply because they want to (and probably, pathetically actually belief) see themselves as white folk with a slightly darker tan, therefore what happens to those people who are darker than they, who wear their pants lower, who speak a – somewhat – broken dialect of the English language, that live in those filthy, “scary” neighborhoods by choice (circumstances be damned) they really must be protected from themselves, poor souls. so if the police want to patrol there in armored personnel carriers, carrying grenade launchers and mr15’s and fully protected in body armor, hey, let ’em, “our brave protectors of public order” must be vigilant, vigorous, valiant and vainglorious in keeping the ‘dark’ menace at bay! And if a couple of them criminal bastards die by their hands, well they obviously deserved it, or why else would they be there? Niggah Please!!!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Saw the FULL video of Garner this morning – heartbreaking! From the police approaching him to how it quickly esclated to him being choked. Sadly the preference for light skinned is curse even on the continent. People gets complimented hence the skin bleaching Co (mostly non African) making mints and yet we refused to see the mockery

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • it really is disheartening to see this happen repeatedly and to listen to the apologist (some seriously unintended) for the police actions, but hey, “if they only did what the police asked of them it never would have happened” sad enough it happens here (as always, it’s natural for it to happen on the African continent) but for it to be accepted, that is the headache i have with it. by the way, do not take my earlier comments as an acknowledgement of homophobia being not only acceptable but approved as it is definitely not! Nor is it misunderstood, it’s understood just not approved

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for saying this. The refusal of both African-Americans and Africans from the continent to accept and hold accountable that Africans sold each other into chattel slavery in America, yet both often want to ignore this truth and treat it as an insult and solely continue to wholely blame White folks for the trauma and terrorism blacks have endured……. can anyone say, “Bagdary Slave Port in Nigeria!”…… I’m just sayn

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing, Your “telling the truth” comment resonated with me. Because in America for years our civil rights leaders have been pushing to have an “open discussion about race” to address a variety of African-Americans’ concerns. Instead whenever RACE is raised as an issue, so many resist and the accusation is that the RACE CARD is being played. The RACE CARD, as seen by those who use it, is blaming White America for the trials and tribulations faced by African Americans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Madam for reading and for candid comment.
      You are right, people blame WA because it is easier when in fact the same decendants of royal families that were responsible for exchanging a selected group of their people considered inferior for whisky and cash are still alive today dragging their tails shamelessly in Africa. Oh they do visit America in numbers too making up stories.

      People tell me it’s complicated, my answer always it is very simple, we just need to tell the truth so we can chanel our fraustrations in the right directions.

      Africans especially the royal families of affected African nations owe African-Americans big time. When we accept our wrong doings, others are more likely to reason.



  1. Half of a Yellow Sun – history repeating itself | Ori Yeye nii Mogun

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