"The world was silent when we died”
During the late 1960s, Nigeria witnessed a gruesome civil war that led to the persecution of Igbo people across the state. The demand for an independent Biafra initiated violent altercations amongst the local tribes which had been living peacefully since ages in the area. Like all other civil wars, the worst hit were the local people, women and children including, caught in the state of affairs in which their mere survival was at risk. A lot has been written about one of the bloodiest civil wars in the world history since then. Adichie’s book, Half of a Yellow Sun, first published in 2006 is considered one of the most lucid fictions based on the past that still haunts the people of Nigeria.
War knows no religion, race, gender or social status. It destroys everything and everybody with equal tenacity. When Olanna and her sister Kaneine are caught in the war, they find themselves completely helpless. In spite of their sound social and economic status and education, their plight seems no different from the uneducated houseboy Ugwu who has seen nothing but abject poverty all his life. As all of them face the brutalities of war with all their might, they struggle to maintain their sanity despite the gory violence being shed upon their friends, families and community.
Odenigbo, Ugwu’s master and Olanna’s life partner, sees Biafra as a new beginning and believes in the future that it promises for the state. However, he fails to fathom the cost of it. They lose their comfortable abode overnight and are forced to live as refugees, running for cover every time an air-bomber shells their neighborhood. Richard, Kaneine’s English boyfriend, continues to face ridicule and resistance. But he finds himself more connected to the country of his residence than his roots of the past.
Adichie’s book is a masterpiece. It takes you along the journey of ups and downs; of pleasures and absolute dejections; of feeling completely helpless to finding the strength within. The transformation of a naïve village boy who found pleasure in cooking for his master to a soldier of the civil war who raped girls and killed people cold-heartedly, is heartbreaking. The bond between sisters which was lost in the times of abundance revives in tough times and brings them together.
Half of a Yellow Sun takes a plunge into emotions, predicaments, redemptions and pain. There is a reasonable yet sensitive human angle to issues, personal and social. Some portions are worth reading twice, just to devour the beauty of writing. This is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read.
About the Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book; and Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013. Ms. Adichie is also the author of the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. Ms. Adichie has been invited to speak around the world. Her 2009 TED Talk, The Danger of A Single Story, is now one of the most-viewed TED Talks of all time. Her 2012 talk We Should All Be Feminists has a started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014. Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017. A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Ms. Adichie divides her time between the United States and Nigeria. (Source: https://www.chimamanda.com/)