For those of us who have not experienced war, we should really count ourselves lucky.
Partially based on the Nigerian–Biafra war which was from the late 1960s to the 1970s, Half of a Yellow Sun follows the tale of five people and the challenges they face during the course of the war.
Chimamanda humanizes history in this book in a way that one gets to appreciate the bloody history of Nigeria. Inside the pages, I did not only got to understand the hardships of Biafra war through the face of the characters, but I also appreciated the power of love in the face of adversity.
An interesting twist is how one of the characters becomes a staunch patriot of the state of Biafra even though it places an unbearable strain in his marriage and not only that he also loses his sense of identity and is engulfed by guilt just like the many men who left helpless about the war.
A reoccurring mantra in the tale is “The World was silent when we died” which refers to how the world stood by and watched Nigerians meet their end, and how its cry fell into deaf ears.
“The North was wary and it feared domination from the more educated South and had always wanted a country separate from the infidel South anyway. But the British had to preserve Nigeria as it was, their prized creation, their large market, their thorn in France’s eye.” Extract from The World Silent When We Died.
Chamamanda’s use of the Queen or should we rather say the King’s language now is extraordinary and make the tale to come alive.
Half of a Yellow Sun is a perfect escape to the past and an excellent lesson on how it can influence the future.