Historical Materials and Fictional Verities in Half of a Yellow Sun – A Review
Silver Abhulimhen OJIESON
School of Postgraduate Studies
Department of Creative Arts
University of Lagos, Akoka-Lagos
The foremost pieces of Hubert Ogunde were adapted theatrical enactments. Obotunde Ijimere's Everyman towed the paths of biblical myths as well as Ola Rotimi's adaptation of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. Following the attainment of political independence, the viability of shows greatly affected the way in which text and historical sources were treated. Biyi Bandele's film on Chimamanda Adichie's novel of the same title – Half of a Yellow Sun – incorporates historical materials into a production that post dates the Nigerian civil war without betraying the significance of how the production elements culminated in a motion picture. Worthy of mention is the BBC's documentary files on Biafra and Odumegwu Ojukwu’s personality which formed an integral part of the film as well as Chimamanda's narrative which births the source of the screenplay. History and fiction have always had a smooth romance in terms of dramatic subject matters. In this study, attention is paid to the critical subject matters history recorded as well as the resultant effect of Chimamanda's literary creation on the final cut of Biyi Bandele's effort seen in the saga between the East and the rest of Nigeria in the late 1960s. It is a fact that playwrights depend on the retelling of other people’s story, especially from a different cultural background to project their ideological views about a subject of serious socio-cultural and political standpoints. In this paper, the author evaluates the significance of adaptation as a method of storytelling and its derivative effects on the transposition of cultural reference points highlighted.
Most times, the background of some stories dates as far back as the origin of a race. Therefore, when these materials, of how men managed to survive the hurdles of life become the ingredient for drama, they are retold in such a way that it (the new form it assumes) is purposely crafted to achieve dramatic effects other than historical functions alone. But for entertainment, information, therapeutic and educational purposes, a lot of stories have been adapted to suit new socio-cultural and technically viable status. In explaining adaptation, Field states that, “the verb to adapt means to transpose from one medium to another;” and that it involves, “modifying something to create a change in structure, function, and form” (259). To Goodwyn, an adaptation is a text that has been cleared to suit a particular medium for example film, and which is based on another text, originally conceived for a different medium (24).
Yerima holds the view that for a writer cannot create in a vacuum neither can he communicate only to himself. He must be relevant to the society he emerges from, from whose past or history he intends to use the materials to write, and for whom his messages are intended (43). Society or human community provides that which is called history. And in the history exists the major element of the mystique continuum of a society, which the aspects of a society’s myths, legends and folklore belong. All three help society remember where it is coming from and where it wants to go in future. It provides that element of identity, which allows us to describe, and identify one society or community from the other. In Biyi Bandele's Half of a Yellow Sun, we can identify significant foundational bridge blocks between Chimamanda Adichie’s work and the film in question. To buttress the above is the point by Yerima that:
The human being, in order to further communicate better, has etched, carved, expressed in large mild or graceful gestures, these mysteries of its environment and its reality. Sometimes, society has found itself reproducing the stories in order to capture the awe, the spiritual or natural or common essence of such folklore, legends or myths (44).
Yerima reviews the lifting of myth to form drama as in Soyinka’s reworking of the historical legend of the Elesin of Oyo in 1946 in his play, Death and the King’s Horseman subverting ritual to attain an international struggle of man with his metaphysical being. In this regard, Yerima makes mention of Trials of Ovonranwen and Morountodun which are historical fact endowed with the hero-god with common multicultural human traits. Yerima’s submission regarding adaptation is that, “we can learn to accommodate other writers and their works no matter the circumstances, as it is the job of the society to shift, and accept the ones they want (63).”
In “The Performer and the Nigerian Copy Right Act,” Oladitan argues that the creator of an original work holds exclusive rights to any art work. He asserts that, “although in the arts adaptation is a common practice, especially when it concerns texts, such an act shall be with the due control, consent, permission or authorization of the original creation no matter how such may be obtained” (88). What this implies is that interpretation of a model/original depends largely on what has already been created. However, for obvious reasons, majority of adapted works hardly make reference to its model copy. Here, the adapter considers his/her created version independent of the original, especially if created to retell similar stories against the background of a new culture and for a new audience. Etherton’s treatment of adaptation is particularly beneficial as he sees adaptation as a systematic process whereby a deliberate attempt is made by both African and non-African playwrights to rework plays of other cultures to suit their own societies (102). He is of the view that, “in taking over the European concern to rework’ the great dramatic works of the past, African playwrights have also taken over this particular historical perspective” (102). Thus, he states that in reworking play-texts, any or all of the following changes are made in order to point to its relevance in the playwright’s own society:
- The names of people, places and titles may be changed, for example, in Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are not to Blame, based on Sophocles’ King Oedipus, where Oedipus becomes Odewale, the Greek city of Thebes becomes Kutuje, and all other names are given Yoruba equivalents;
- The period or the setting may be changed, for example, as in the Oshogbo Everyman, where the late medieval European town of the mid-fifteenth century becomes a Yoruba town in the 1960s;
- The framework, or context, may be changed, for example, when Sophocles’s third play, Antigone, in his Theban trilogy, becomes a play done by two political prisoners on Robben Island, South Africa, in The Island by Fugard, Kani and Ntshona;
- The story may be changed: Soyinka introduces the slave leader as an important new character in his reworking of Euripides’s The Bacchae, which he calls The Bacchae of Euripides; and
- The themes may be changed: for example, the inexorability of fate becomes instead the issue of personal culpability in Rotimi’s The Gods are not to Blame (103).
From the above, Etherton holds the view that:
Adapting or transposing a play, therefore, may be limited to superficial changes or may involve anything from superficial changes of detail to a radical recasting or rewriting. At one extreme this is nothing more than translation; at the other extreme it is a new play: an original play influenced by or alluding to an earlier work (103).
In looking at “Art and the Artist in Society,” Bamidele holds the opinion that it is not all artists, who live by the code of tastes, beauty and sweetness just as it is true that not all scientists live by the code of enhancing the world. He argues that just as we have scientists who live by the code of destruction so also we have artists who live to shock and destroy our illusions. Thus, he posits that:
Modern art, for instance, in fiction or drama (theatre) reflects both constructive and dis-integrating phases of contemporarysociety. It is the function of the artist to destroy in order to re-build.This function becomes necessary in anage in which accepted models of art or conduct no longer suffice. Artists no longer see their role as solely to idealize the past. Their function now is to present to us the “truthful lies” of our existence in shocking forms (35).
Bamidele’s view above connotes the essence of adaptation in dramatic literature whereby original masterpieces are reinterpreted to suit new horizons. This gains more relevance following its inherent characteristics to imbibe the consciousness of the new society. Here, the adapted work is able to establish a connection with the new audience by retelling stories borrowed from other cultures with the aim to capture their fancy.
According to Adeoti:
A study of instances of adaptation in Nigerian theatre shows that continuous transformation and blending are noticeable in the domestication motif that is endorsed by dramatists. The adapter tries to plant the sources text firmly within his culture or within a hypothetical culture against which his Nigerian realities can be interrogated (10).
Hyginus Ekwuazi states that originating an idea for a play can come from several sources including Adaptation (15). In his analysis, Ekwuazi posits that our mass mediated culture of the screen and novel influences each other so much that not only do novelists write as if they are writing film scripts but that any well received novel is likely to end up on the screen. Chimamanda Adichie's novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, which has earned itself a spot in the hallowed halls of fame in Nigerian cinema circuit deserves some review in this regards. Ekwuazi opines that:
Because anyone who has read any novel or seen any play that really impressed him would love to watch it on screen, adaptations have remained a favourite hunting ground for scriptwriters. In adaptation, the range/degree of fidelity to the adapted source ranges from total... to scant... (15).
In looking at the possibility of a total or scant adaptation, especially when classics are concerned, Ekwuazi holds the view that classics are always treated as sacrosanct. His reasons for this is that, “in treating them, you cannot but be one hundred percent loyal to them,” since one’s artistic liberty to choose story events and to embellish, either does not exist or does so merely minimally. In order to avoid blemishes, Ekwuazi advises adapters to take such works (classics) as they are – otherwise stand the risk of offending significant interests and therefore commercially dooming the work (16).
Faithfulness to the source material does not only enhance the adapted text but gives it more credibility. Where model texts provide most playwrights with materials for productions, it is their responsibility to treat such sources in accordance with the nature of the need for the production. Except when deviations are informed by reasons that are not artistically motivated, the adapter might have fallen short of artistic commitment and expectations. It is in this regards that Obafemi opines that although Ogunde departed from the biblical themes which preoccupied his earlier plays, such as, Garden of Eden and King Solomon, he still borrowed a great deal from the Christian religion, which formed part of the syncretic imagination informing his theatre (53).
Since artistic interpretation of historical materials and rituals fuel adaptations, Adeoti maintains that the stage popularity and success of a play when originally produced sometimes spur an adaptation (19). Where this is the case, it is his view that the Nigerian adapter, therefore, tries to match the success of the first effort, by creating a play that is relevant to the audience in the contemporary society, especially in meeting their quest for edification, entertainment and didactism.
The advent of filmmaking as a storytelling tool is preceded by literary forms of storytelling like short stories, poems, novels and stage plays (Stages plays are written with the intent of being performed and read as a literary text). All literary forms are preceded by oral literature like folktale, myth and folklore, nothing exists in a vacuum. They form the back stories of some literary works today. In 1971, according to Osunkojo, Francis Oladele produced Bullfrog in the Sun, which is a combination of Chinua Achebe’s novels, Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease (47). Novel to film adaptation is used to appeal to an already existing commercial audience, who have read the novel and reach out to those who have not. It can be regarded as the transformation of the descriptive and narrative words of novels into films. It is an art of turning prosaic words to motion pictures. It has also been a huge avenue to expose budding writers and their relatively new works.
Plot Analysis of Half of a Yellow Sun
Biyi Bandele’s Half of a Yellow Sun enacts the relationship between Olanna and Odenigbo and the travails of their affair in the face of the Nigerian civil war. Upon fade in, it is the lowering of the Union Jack and the hoisting of the Green white Green Nigerian flag. Archival footage of Queen Elizabeth II visiting Nigeria is shown. The parade led by last Governor-General of Nigeria, James Robertson and the cheering citizens of the new nation are shown. This historic documentary dissolves to the palatial residence of Chief Ozobia, a business mogul. Chief Ozobia (played Zack Orji) is a close friend of the Minister of Finance. The minister (played by Wale Ojo) expects the Ozobias to accord him some dignity. Ozobia is not as disappointed as his wife (Tina Mba) that their daughters do not accord the Finance Minister some level of reverence. When this scene opened upstairs, the junior of the twins, Kainene had asked Olanna if she was going to spread her legs for the Minister of Finance to get their father a certain contract.
At the dining table, Olanna had disappointed her parents when she informed them of her plans to relocate to Nsukka for a teaching job at the university. This choice is informed by her desperate need to be closer to her lover – the revolutionary Odenigbo (played by Chiwetel Ojiofor). The minister is also out of luck upon learning that his plans to have Olanna spend time with him for the weekend would not work. Olanna had made plans to visit her Uncle, Mbezie at Kano and Kainene is heading to Port Harcourt to manage her father’s businesses.
The transition from the house to the Independence Party is full of pomp and pageantry. At the party, a British, Richard Churchill desperately seeks Kainene’s attention and gives up the company of fellow Britons to be with Kainene. This encounter pays off as Richard and Kainene begin a sizzling romance. Olanna visits Kano and sees her uncle, wife and children. Her trip lands her in Nsukka; but before her arrival, Odenigbo had called his houseboy, Ugwu to make plans for food. Instead of adhering to his master’s instructions to buy fried rice and chicken from the Staff Club, Ugwu insists on cooking the rice and buying the chicken only. When Olanna comes, she could not eat the rice. Odenigbo is excited to introduce Olanna to his band of academicians. Amongst them is Lara George, a Yoruba scholar played by Genevieve Nnaji).
The following day, Odenigbo’s mother (Onyeka Onwenu) comes to the university campus with a young woman, Amala. She systematically dismisses Ugwu from the kitchen saying it is not a place for boys. When Olanna comes to Odenigbo’s apartment, Mama gives her a very cold reception, calling her a witch. Mama did not mince words telling Olanna she did not suckle her mother’s breast, warning her to leave her son alone. This escalates by the time Mama goes out calling the neighbours to come and tell Olanna to leave Odenigbo alone. Moments later, Odenigbo comes to Olanna’s quarters to apologise for his mother’s behaviour. He begs her to understand and justifies his mother’s reaction as only village woman mentality of an educated woman. Olanna is depressed so she calls her twin, Kainene in Port Harcourt. Her sister is immediately able to discern the unhappiness of Olanna and begins to interrogate her until Kainene is let into how Odenigbo’s mother is coming between them.
Odenigbo listens to the radio. Nzeogwu Kaduna, the first Army Head of State announces the control of the state apparatus by the army. Odenigbo is happy but Olanna is not; she is worried about what might have happened in Lagos and calls her parents; but there is no connection. As usual, Odenigbo and his band of scholar drunkards converge at his abode to discuss the latest political development, justifying the army takeover as good riddance to bad nonsense. A copy of Daily Times is passed on to Olanna with a photograph of the late Finance Minister, who the soldiers killed. Olanna remarks amidst the scorn that Chief Okonji was a close friend of her father. Lara George remarks that the BBC was calling the coup an Ibo coup. This is followed by a response clarifying the misconception whether the Hausas who controlled the Government were not installed as a sitting stooge for the British Colonial government. Odenigbo’s reply is asking the BBC who put the Northerners in power in the first place. He insists that if there were more men like Nzegwu in Government, the country would not be the way it is today. This coup is followed months later with General Aguiyi Ironsi’s regime, which abolished the power of the regions and concentrated operations from Lagos. This sparked outrage in which a revolt against the supposed Ibo leadership of the country was being dismantled.
It is Chief Ozobia’s 60th birthday and Olanna had to leave Nsukka for Lagos. That same day, Mama brought Amala to Nsukka. In the company of Lara, Richard and Odenigbo’s best friends, Okeoma, Mama gives Ugwu freshly brewed palm wine for his master. During the meeting, Lara flirts with Odenigbo but he tells Okeoma that he is not up for it. Lara also derides Odenigbo for his inability to follow Olanna to Lagos to show moral support for her father’s birthday. Drunk beyond control, Odenigbo helps himself in bed with Amala. The following morning when he wakes and calls Olanna, she is perplexed that he was not his vibrant usual self. Asked why he sounded cold, Odenigbo says he was yet to talk to Mama about her misconceptions about the educated witch that she supposed Olanna has become in the eyes of Mama. Richard in the company of the twins was quizzed about Odenigbo’s condition last night. Richard’s response was clouded with some dark linings which prompted Kainene to rouse the sister to return to Nsukka. By evening when Mama and Amala were setting out to leave, Olanna arrives unannounced. After seeing Mama off to the park, Olanna confronts Odenigbo who avoids eye contact with his fiancée. He lies that a student of his who missed a test offered money to him to award marks. He was not convincing enough so Olanna leaves for her apartment. When Odenigbo comes, she shuts the door against him. His unrelenting bang on the door prompted her to open and let him explain himself. Odenigbo tells the truth, how that he had sex with Amala but that it was brief and meant nothing to him; that Mama had planned it from the beginning. Olanna was terribly hurt so she asked him to leave.
The following day she travelled to Kano to see Uncle Mbezie. Auntie Rita his wife was able to talk to Olanna to return to Nsukka and stop running. At the airport, Olanna meets an Hausa man, who shows her the news of the sack of Eni Njoku, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos. He is vexed that only the Ibos occupy top Civil service positions in the country. Upon further enquiry he learns that Olanna is Ibo and finally says he thought she was Fulani. When Olanna arrive Nsukka, he heads straight to Odenigbo’s apartment and packs all her belongings. Ugwu begs on behalf of his master, saying, “master cries all the time like a baby”. Olanna is not moved by Ugwu’s intervention and leaves. When Odenigbo comes to her apartment, it is not to beg but inform her that Amala is pregnant with his child. Mama had come to inform him. Olanna cries profusely and opens the door thereafter for him. They talk at length and he promises to do anything she wants. Mama, he says will not let him abort the child insisting she will raise the baby.
Olanna goes to the Eastern Shop and bought wine. She met Richard and lures him to her apartment. Richard, trying not to overstep his boundaries lets her have her way. They engage in sexual intercourse. Olanna, after the affair with Richard goes to Odenigbo’s apartment. Ugwu tells her that Mama used charm on his master but she would not buy it. In the bed room, Odenigbo and Olanna finish having sex and he proposed marriage. Odenigbo submits that if they marry that Mama would let them be. Olanna at this moment tells Odenigbo that she slept with Richard. It took time for this to sink in as Odenigbo, enraged, leaves the apartment and heads to Richard’s place, where he warned him sternly to stay away from his place. At dinner, Odenigbo and Olanna eat in silence until she asks if they are still trying to have a child to which Odenigbo’s response was “Of course, we are.” Their meal is cut short by Mama’s intrusion. She gives Ugwu Amala’s baby and leaves immediately without seeing her son.
When Ugwu alerts Odenigbo and Olanna, it is immediately clear that Mama wanted a male grandchild all the while. Olanna offers to bring up the child. Kainene visits Richard in Nsukka and they talk about the baby and how Olanna hopes to cope with the fact that the baby might grow up knowing the truth. This conversation is interrupted when Richard’s cook, who Kainene commends his cooking started ranting about how same commendation was given him by Odenigbo and his friends, where Richard had taken him to make a meal. He is however angry that since Odenigbo came shouting on his master, he has decided never to cook for them again. Kainene immediately underscores the fishy business that has transpired between Richard and Olanna. She is terribly hurt but swears it would have been better if Richard slept with another woman other than his sister. “Don’t leave me, please!” Richard begs; but Kainene replies, “That would be too easy,” telling Richard that the act is unforgivable.
Olanna is on the run again. She goes to Kano to be with the Uncle Mbezie. Immediately she left the airport, a group of soldiers stormed the scene and began to massacre all Ibos. Kano was on fire when she arrives; she even sighted a band of angry Hausa youths dragging her Uncle’s wife to the slaughter. In the mayhem, it is the taxi driver that pulled her back into the cab, which is pursued. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu is shown giving the figures of casualties. 330 massacred on 29th May; 670 during the September riots in Zaria. From the TV broadcast, Odenigbo attacks Lara over the complacency of the Yorubas, who sent word to the Emirs in the North for not slaughtering their people. He argues whether anyone has touched her as a Yoruba in the East let alone harasses her; that by keeping quiet and not condemning the killings, the Yorubas played second fiddle. This is followed by the hoisting of the Biafran flag, and they (Odenigbo and Olanna) celebrate the birth of the new nation with others.
Richard returns to Nigeria from his cousin’s wedding to join Kainene at Port Harcourt. She tells Richard that the Federal troops will not spare Port Harcourt because of the oil. At Nsukka, shelling is heard and Odenigbo gathers his family and they flee the town and take refuge at Abba, where his mother resides. This is also short-lived as the Federal troops approach. Mama refuses to come to Umuahia with them; but before they left Abba, Mama comes to Olanna asking how Odenigbo’s kinsmen may take palm wine to her father. Unknown to Odenigbo, who reiterated his plans to marry Olanna that should bury him in case he dies during the war, Mama, Olanna thought, had planned with her son to ridicule her. Olanna’s mother arrives Abba asking her to follow her; that her father was in Port Harcourt to ask Kainene to join them in Cameroon, where they have booked four seats in a flight to London. Olanna, like her twin, turned down the offer. When Odenigbo and his fiancé arrives Umuahia, it is their wedding. This wedding, in the heat of the war brings a moment of laughter. This is short lived as the couple made to cut the cake in front of the photographer; an explosion hits the back of the house where the people were gathered. There is great confusion; the guests scamper and run for safety. Eventually, Olanna begins to teach in a makeshift school with Ugwu. The news of Mama’s death comes to Odenigbo as a shocker; and he leaves immediately against Olanna’s advice. Olanna tells Ugwu that they have to go to the refugee camps because they cannot afford the rent. She gets angry at Ugwu for using the kerosene asking him to use the wood. Odenigbo returns from his aborted Abba trip crying that he could not go because Biafran soldiers stopped him, saying it was not safe for him and corked their guns to shoot him if he insisted on going. It turns out that Kainene is the one running the refugee camp; she sought out Olanna and they settle their score. Since Olanna slept with Richard, they have not been in touch. Kainene brought Olanna money and they reconcile.
Ojukwu is seen on TV urging a group of child soldiers to train well so as to defeat the Federal troops. This desperate recruitment catches up with Ugwu, who the Biafran soldiers on patrol enlist forcefully. Several days after, Kainene brought news to Odenigbo and Olanna that Ugwu had been killed. Some days later, the refugee camp is bombed and Odenigbo and his family had to run. They moved in with Kainene and Richard, an offer Olanna rejected earlier. Richard and Odenigbo engage in argument. Kainene tells Richard and Odenigbo that she would be going to 9th Mile the net day; and in spite of Odenigbo’s stern warnings about the insecurity problem, Kainene leaves. A day after her absence, Richard and Olanna decided to look for her. They drive a distance asking people if they saw the woman in the photograph. This tragedy is momentarily put aside with the news of Ugwu’s return. In the mean time, Ojukwu announces his retreat from Biafra to explore security options for his people. This is followed by a Federal broadcast from Lagos announcing the dissolution of Biafra and the end of the war. Odenigbo is seen returning to Nsukka with his family through a deserted road.
Thematic Analysis of Subject Matter
Independence. In the early 50s, after World War II, there was a sudden need for the African continent to demand political independence from their erstwhile colonial masters. Following the motion for Independence by Anthony Enahoro of the Action Group, Nigeria gained her independence as a sovereign nation in 1960. At that time, most African countries were becoming self-ruled. These new found nations were misguided by the notion that self-rule was the solution to their numerous challenges. On 1st October, 1960 Nigeria became a free nation but not independent of Britain’s apron string. The euphoria that greeted this self-rule did not last because corruption had been ingrained from the start. There were dissenting opinions about the people at the helms of affairs. These notions bothered on tribal sentiments in particular. Britain, it was rumoured, gave the mantle of leadership to the Hausas who many considered malleable. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s designation as Governor General, it was said, was just ceremonial. We are not truly independent a lot of people would say today. This is the underlying theme that runs through the film: the breaking of a new day turned dark by greed, tribalism and political manoeuvrings.
Tribalism. The confederating units called Nigeria is made up of ethnicities whose origins are as disparate as the other tribes. However, the major tribes: Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo have always been at the forefront. The discordant tunes emanating from the troubles of the new nation resulted from tribal sentiments. When the civilian government was toppled by the top brass of the military for corruption and the politicians were killed, it was termed, an Ibo coup. In spite of the differences, that is, in terms of language, religion and culture, the average Northerner thought that since Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello were the North’s representation and were dead in the first coup, there was no basis to exonerate the perpetrators, as cleaning up the polity. This resentment was to have boomerang effect in subsequent regimes.
Civil War. The use of documentary materials in the film served its purpose. The filmmaker wanted the audience to appreciate the depth of Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu’s suffering. The Ibos were killed following the failure of Aguiyi Ironsi who succeed Major Nzeogwu, also an Ibo. The sentiments against the Ibo as a race were rife and people from the North and West were angry that the whole national sphere from education, politics, commerce and the civil service was dominated by the Ibos. There was only one way to settle this score – a holocaust. This Adolf Hitler solution, like the Jewish elimination, resulted in the massacre of the Ibos in the Northern part of the country, especially in Kano, Zaria and Kaduna. Following this mass killings of the Ibos and following the superimposition of Yakubu Gowon as the Head of the Federal Military Government, Ojukwu, decided it was high time he created an Ibo nation. The declaration of the Republic of Biafra, a secessionist government in the Eastern region culminated in a full blown civil war.
Family. When Olanna and Kainene returned from their studies abroad, they decided to return home. The Minister of Finance, Chief Okonji, who was expecting to marry Olanna, had proposed to the father to have her work in his ministry, but he was disappointed that she had made her own plans. In spite of his loss, he was not selfish to remark that it was wrong to assume that the gild child cannot amount to anything good. This notion, that it is only the male child that can live to sustain the family legacy is immediately discountenanced. Kainene resolved to manage her father’s business in Port Harcourt by taking care of the freight liners, bottling company and the cement factories. Kainene’s resolve, unlike the misguided assumption that once women are of marriageable age they go into their husband’s house does not hold water.
Kinship. Olanna’s trip to Kano to see her Uncle, Mbezie is typical of the Ibos who, for blood ties, maintain filial relations. In one of her trips to Kano, this is after she was hurting following Odenigbo’s unfaithfulness with Amala, her Uncle’s wife, Aunty Ifeka, admonishes her to be strong. This kind of closeness with the Uncle’s wife is different from Olanna’s closeness with the mother. The bond between her and the father does not exist between Olanna and her parents. Mama’s plan with Amala did not work out when she delivered a baby girl. Mama also refused to follow Odenigbo out of Abba because she has always been on her own and felt no need to run.
Love. Odenigbo and Olanna exemplify a kind of love that defies the bullet. From when she returned to Nigeria, Olanna’s rejection of the Finance minister’s offer was to be with her lover, Odenigbo. She accepted the offer of a job at Nsukka just to be closer to him. Economic factors notwithstanding, she prefers where her heart beats to plenty money. During the war, her mother bought flight tickets at Cameroon and managed to locate Olanna at Abba; but she will not leave Odenigbo alone. This love also exists between Richard and Kainene. Richard rejects Beatrice at the Independence party because he wanted to be with Kainene. Eventually, when Kainene goes missing, he cries profusely, like a baby because he could not bear the thought of being without her. Profound is the love between Richard and Kainene that after she goes missing, he stays back at Nsukka years after the war, believing that he may yet see her again. When Richard cheated on Kainene with Olanna, and Odenigbo with Amala, they forgive each other. Olanna offers to bring up the child of Amala just to be with Odenigbo.
Power. Odenigbo believes that power belongs to the powerful. He is called, the revolutionary, because he believes in a sort of change that is based on violent change. He criticises Miss Adebayo because he thinks she is a chameleon like her people – the Yorubas. When the Civil war started, a lot of the slaughtering of the Ibos was sanctioned by the government that did nothing to stop the killings. The Yorubas, according to Odenigbo, were not killed and they sent a delegation to thank the Emir in the North. The instrument of power was deployed against the annihilation of the Eastern region; and the silence of Britain was the most awful act of the period. In Kainene’s remarks, the Nigerian Government will not let Port Harcourt go because of the huge deposit of oil wealth. The Eastern region and its people was not the major reason the war was fought but the control of the oil rivers stretching from Cross River to Delta. This oil wealth, starting from Oloibiri where oil exploration resulting in so much wealth had been generated for the young nation, it was feared, would make Ojukwu’s government the most powerful if allowed to assert its authority. The use of force by the Nigerian government and the capturing of Port Harcourt, the first in the East to fall to the federal troops and the splinter tribes in Calabar and Uyo, led to the encircling of the East.
Feminist Ideology. The strength exhibited by Kainene and her sister, Olanna shows them as very tough women. Kainene’s personality is of a woman who is poised for the taking of the world. She is unshaken in the face of turbulence; she has foresight and faces her fears without backing down. When Richard cheated with the sister, he thought she was going to walk out on him but instead she makes him understand that she is not going anywhere. Olanna, on the other hand, decides to sleep with Richard in order to balance the scales for what Odenigbo did by sleeping with Amala. Not only did she pay back, she told him too. Odenigbo could not react because he was guilty as charged. Aunty Ifeka, wife of Olanna’s uncle once told her how she warned the husband that she was going to cut off his penis if he dared bring shame on her by sleeping with other women. Her resolve to help take care of Odenigbo’s daughter with Amala is borne out of womanist care instead of thinking that Amala was her rival.
Servitude. Ugwu and Harrison, Odenigbo and Richard’s house boys exemplify the inherited notion of servitude bequeathed on the average Nigerian by the colonial master. A well-to-do man needs a house help to do the chores as a sign of prestige. This follows the elderly man serving Chief Ozobia to every well-to-do household.
In the light of the xenophobic attacks against fellow blacks in South Africa, one is forced to interrogate the fate of man in the face of dire economic straits. Jobs meant for indigenes, it is said, have been taken by foreigners. The prime factor in the genesis of the Nigerian civil war does not in any way differ from a clear case of jealousy. The Ibos in the film under review have been seen as economic threats. The declaration of Oba Akiolu of Lagos that Ibos will drown in the Lagos lagoon if they failed to vote for his preferred candidates in the 2015 general elections is just a tip of the iceberg. Compared to the massacre of Ibos in the North, before, during and after the Nigerian civil war, one cannot help but wonder if it was ideal for fellow men to kill another person for the sake of political and ethnic differences. Chimamanda Adichie's novel touches on more subjects than is re-enacted in this film. However, Biyi Bandele's auteuristic reinvention of the fictional work into a motion picture succeeds in highlighting the atrocities of displacing families and the turmoil of surviving with a lover in the face of martial assaults. In the novel, the narration opens with Ugwu, Odenigbo's houseboy. But as we know, the concept of prominence has to be upheld in any work of art. Therefore, instead of a boy who drops out in Standard Two to help his father's farm from collapsing, we are given the birth of a nation. The celebration of a country's political destiny with regards to self-rule far outweighs Chimamanda Adichie's opening. On the other hand, the disappearance of Kainene is relevant only after the devastating effects of the war have been scaled. While it is believable to swing to and fro by cutting across time and space in Adichie's narratorial spree, film is structured. The sequential reinvention of this novel might have solved the pains of lay readers who find it difficult to accompany flash-forwards and the intricately inverted mode of rendering events in a fictional mode. This simply supposes that film is a more organized medium and fertile ground for interpretational aesthetics, which are usually lacking on the pages of printed literature.
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