The Aspiration to Create a New Nation in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’

By Sana Abdulsalam
Effat University


In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun, “Biafra” was conceived of as a nation. Even within its short lived and tumultuous existence, Biafra greatly shaped the ideology and lives of its citizens. The nation is generally perceived as a pre-existing stable entity, but as Homi K. Bhabha suggests, differences in categories such as class and culture problematize this notion of stability. Drawing from the works of postcolonial theorists such as Homi K. Bhabha, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Edward Said, this paper analyzes the concept of a nation in Chimamanda Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun. The struggle for the new state of Biafra began soon after the exit of the British colonizers from the region. Hence, the connection between the region’s colonial past and postcolonial present is analyzed. Political power struggles and Othering lead to intense physical and psychological trauma among civilians, but they continue to express fidelity towards a nationalist cause. This sense of fidelity is analyzed in the light of Benedict Anderson’s conception of the nation as an imagined community, where the nation is seen as a model analogous to the concept of a family. The creation of a new nation warrants forging of different forms of identities and their performance. In the novel, performance of Biafran identity by indigenous Africans is perceived as patriotism, but such a performance by a character of British origins, Richard, is seen as mimicry of a culture other than his own. Consequently, he is never fully accepted as a Biafran. Richard’s presence brings into question all explicated ideals and notions of nationhood as a coherent entity, and destabilizes the idea of the nation as a whole. Therefore, in this paper I depict that in the cause of a new nation, there are unnecessary power struggles and violence for an ideology that is not as stable as purported to be.



Nation, as proposed by Homi K. Bhabha and other theorists, is not an objective reality. Rather, it is a construct, a man-made ‘idea’ that is generally perceived as a naturally occurring stable entity. The boundaries of nations are drawn on the basis of several ideas, as inhabitants determine who qualifies to be a part of the nation state. In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun, “Biafra” is the name that the characters give to the new nation they aspire to create. The events in the narrative begin in the early 1960s, soon after Nigeria gained independence from British colonization. After the end of colonial rule, political instability can ensue whilst people attempt to define the state that has been left by their colonizers. As a result, divisions between different groups in a region can be heightened. After facing oppression from their colonizers, the inhabitants of the newly formed Nigeria resort to committing acts of violence against one another. Hence, their colonial history is an essential factor for determining their behavior in the postcolonial context.  In 1967, the Igbo tribe declared their intention to secede from northern Nigeria by creating Biafra. This led to a civil war between the people of the Igbo and Hausa tribes. Therefore, a new nation was created with a sense of nationalism established on a tribal basis. This paper analyzes the postcolonial concept of the nation in Chimamanda Adiche’s Half of Yellow Sun by exploring the narrative of nationhood, power relations and Othering in the postcolonial context, the nation as a model analogous to the family, and the performance of national identity by the inhabitants of a region. Through this analysis, I root out the incoherence in the notion of the nation as a stable coherent entity.


Writing the Nation

The nation of Biafra was wrought through the three year long Nigeria-Biafra war. So the narrative of this nation cannot exclude a narrative of the war. But despite the sympathies that the characters have towards the civil war, national politics are not the main focus of Half of a Yellow Sun (Ugochukwu 236). Rather, it is the experiences of the characters that “fill(s) the pages of the book,” even if these are political (Ugochukwu 236). The war is not discussed in the book as an objective reality. Instead, the reader encounters it through the eyes of the characters as they discuss forms of representation for Africans, listen to the radio and report what they have heard, teach the younger generation about Biafra, and write historical accounts of the war. Hence, a clear distinction between private life and political events is not maintained. According to Hannah Arendt, the public and private realms in the society of the modern nation merge “unceasingly” and “uncertainly” into each other (Nation and Narration 13). The narrative of the novel is laden with instances where these two aspects merge, one of which is the air raid during Odenigbo and Olanna’s wedding. Here “the couple’s romantic turmoil directly parallel’s Nigeria’s defining postcolonial crisis, as well as being punctuated by it” (Marx 612). Another instance is Kainene’s disappearance at the end of the novel, which is caused due to political conflicts but affects Olanna on a deeply personal level.

On ‘how’ the nation’s story is told, Fredrick Jameson writes about “national allegory,” “where the telling of individual story and the individual experience cannot but ultimately involve the whole laborious telling of the collectivity itself” (Location of Culture 201). On one level, Ugwu narrates the individual stories of people; he writes of Olanna’s experience of seeing a woman carrying a dead child’s head in a calabash. Therefore, Olanna’s individual experience gives the reader a general sense of the suffering of the collectivity. On another level, Half of a Yellow Sun is narrated in free indirect speech, as the story is narrated in third person from the point of view of three characters—Ugwu, Olanna, and Richard. Hence, the telling of the individual stories of characters informs the reader of the collectivity as well.

Even though narration of individual experiences can inform a reader of the collectivity, analyzing the nation as a collectivity may not be as simple. The nation is generally analyzed either as an “empirical sociological category” or a “holistic cultural entity” (Location of Culture 201). However, the narrative and psychological force that “nationness” brings to bear on political and cultural production is the effect of the “ambivalence” of the nation as a narrative strategy (Location of Culture 201). “As an apparatus of symbolic power, it produces a continual slippage of categories,” such as “class affiliation” and “cultural difference,” which come about in “the act of writing the nation” (Location of Culture 201). In the novel, there is an aspiration to create Biafra for what is considered to be a homogenous group— the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. But within the narrative, due to differences in factors like class and cultural ideologies, the Igbo tribe is far from homogenous. Two of the primary narrators of the novel, Ugwu and Olanna, belong to two different ends of the spectrum of class. While Olanna is the daughter of an affluent businessman, Ugwu comes from a poverty stricken household. However, in terms of a ‘psychological force’ class shapes the ideology of both of these characters. Both see negativities attached to affiliation to either class and yearn for a better state of being. As a result, class becomes a deciding factor for both of them moving to Nsukka. A clash in cultural ideas is evident when Odenigbo’s mother comes to visit him and sees an educated woman like Olanna as a threat to her son. While she believes in superstitions like a Dibia, a person who can alter lives using black magic, Olanna disregards such ideas. Ugwu, in a state of transition from an illiterate villager to an educated person living in an urban area, is more inclined towards superstitious beliefs. Hence, a supposedly homogenous community can conceal a host of differences and make the categorization of people according to any form of grouping problematic.

Critics have debated on whether or not the Half of a Yellow Sun ‘adequately’ represents the war of Biafra. John Hawley believes that because Adichie pays little interest to the details of the war, she has written something that is “less than a Biafran novel” (Hodges 9). The book also falls short of Iroh’s idea of a war novel, as it lacks an unbiased account of the great tragedy that was Biafra (Hodges 9). Hugh Hodges agrees with these notions, stating that even though the novel is subject to some level of subjectivity, a “total reckoning” is not only not possible but also not desirable (9). If one seeks an unbiased “omniscient” perspective in fiction, then s/he loses the “human scale of things” (Hodges 9). I agree with Hodges views because if Adichie had focused on being completely objective, the novel would not have been much different from a news report from the 1960s. The narrative derives its strength from depicting the ‘human side’ of war. It makes the reader identify with the way civilians deal with and live their lives in the chaos political instability. Hence, I believe the novel acts as a very sincere depiction of the time’s events.


Power Relations in the Colonial Past and the Postcolonial Present

The effect of a region’s history on its present and future is unprecedented. In Half of a Yellow Sun, this is heightened by the fact that the region named ‘Nigeria’ was a British colony not long before political tensions simmered into a civil war. Elaborating on Richard’s inclusion in the novel, Chimamanda Adichie states that the war “would not have happened the way it did, or ended the way it did, if the British had not been involved” (Crown). Hence, it is essential to understand the connection between British colonization and the circumstances in which the civil war began. Often, patterns evident during colonial rule are repeated in the postcolonial context. For this, Ngugi wa Thiong’o gives the example of repetition of the colonizers strategy of “divide and rule” in the postcolonial context (Jones and Manda 199). Through his charged speeches on how the Igbo need to separate from the Hausa, this is precisely what Colonel Ojukwu aims to achieve. If Biafra had not been created, then the persons leading its cause would not have had the chance to ‘rule over the divided.’ Hence, Half of a Yellow Sun reflects how newly created states could also “equally succumb to oppressive practices” (Upstone 64).

In the colonial era, power was divided between the dominant colonizer and the oppressed colonized. Mahmood Mamdani states that the dialectic between the “settler” and the “native” did not end with the exit of the colonizers (Rushton 1). It actually left behind “a pattern that has been repeatedly replicated in different African nations: one group seems to possess the power, whilst other groups must be cast in a powerless role” (Rushton 1). Half of a Yellow Sun depicts how these power relations are “played out” in the Biafran War, as the Igbos are initially targeted for becoming “too powerful” and causing “inequalities” in Nigeria, (Rushton 1) which is followed by the Igbo tribe attempting to seize control during the civil war.

After Biafra’s defeat, Odenigbo, Olanna, Ugwu, and Baby return to Nsukka and find their home in shambles. Olanna burns the remaining Biafran pounds that she has, and Odenigbo tells her that she is “burning memory” (Adichie 430). Olanna denies this, saying that “she would not place her memory on things that strangers could barge in and take away” and that her memory remains “inside her” (Adichie 430). This indicates that it is people who survive, not things (Walder 135). “Memory” and “nostalgia” live on, and in a postcolonial context this could enable a “sympathetic re-imaginings of some of the worst events” of a society; that “cycles of oppression” will be broken one day (Walder 135). The novel resurfaces the memories of the Biafran war, which in subsequent years became a silent, unspoken part of history. Hence, the author’s note for Half of a Yellow Sun concludes with “May we always remember,” (Adichie 435) calling for a remembrance of the oppression and suffering of civilians during war. It also urges people to understand that power struggles lead to unnecessary and avoidable distress.


Postcolonial Othering

The appropriation of the conquest of colonialism relies on the idea of Othering, as “the objective of colonial discourse is to construe the colonized as a population of degenerate types on the basis of racial origin, in order to justify conquest and to establish systems of administration and instruction” (Location of Culture 101). In the aftermath of colonial rule, the colonial Other can transform into a postcolonial Self, and in turn Other different groups. Marcus Romogale discusses this transformation, stating that “a culture of domination is self-perpetuating and requires the presence of the ‘Other’ to dominate, whether the ‘Other’ is white or African” (Jones and Manda 197). Thus, similar patterns of Othering can be repeated within a region composed of the once colonized.  The idea of Othering is often exploited for political benefit, as observed in the conflict between the different tribes in the novel. In an interview, Chimamanda Adichie states that it is not differences in an area that cause conflict, but the manipulation of ethnic and tribal distinctions (Kimber). In Nigeria, different groups have sought to secede, but these were results of political events rather than an inherent inability of different groups to coexist (Kimber). Through speeches on the radio, secession is offered to the masses as a solution for peace and solidarity. The listeners of these speeches thus develop nationalist ideals towards the new state primarily because they have been affected by the massacres, and latch onto the idea of Othering the Hausa in the hope of a “glorious future” (Adichie 279).

Odenigbo, who fervently carries the spirit of Biafran nationalism, adopts patterns used by politicians to Other a member of the Hausa tribe. When Olanna expresses concern for Mohammed, a man with whom she was previously in a relationship, Odenigbo retorts:

“What’s the matter is that you are saying that a bloody Muslim Hausa man is upset! He is complicit, absolutely complicit, in everything that happened to our people, so how can you say he is upset?” ‘Are you joking?” “Am I joking? How can you sound this way after seeing what they did in Kano? Can you imagine what must have happened to Arize? They raped pregnant women before they cut them up!” Olanna recoiled. She tripped on a stone in her path. She could not believe he had brought Arize up like that, cheapened Arize’s memory in order to make a point in a spurious argument […]” (Adichie 189, emphasis mine)

Odenigbo sees one individual, Mohammed, to be accountable for all the actions of the Hausa. While for Olanna the memory of Arize has been tarnished, Odenigbo “dons ethnically-essentialist blinkers;” because Mohammed belongs to the Hausa tribe, for Odenigbo he is “naturally predisposed to committing atrocities” (Masterson 148). So in addition to Othering the Hausa, Odenigbo essentializes Mohammed as a perpetrator of the violence that he associates with the Hausa tribe. Discussing Edward Said’s ideas on Orientalism, Bhabha states that it is “a static system of “synchronic essentialism” and a knowledge of “signifiers of stability”  (Location of Culture 102). For the function of assigning fixed ‘knowable’ qualities to the Other, all that is required is the use of the “simple copula is”   (Location of Culture 102). In the postcolonial context of the civil war, Odenigbo uses the copula “is” to link the subject Mohammed with the quality of complicity in acts of violence. In this way, he fixes Mohammed as a ‘known’ entity, even though he has never met him. Therefore, “is” here acts as the aforementioned “signifier of stability.” In contrast to this, Olanna’s has a more individualistic stance as her perception of Mohammed is independent of factors such as religious or tribal origins. She is disgusted when Odenigbo tries to personally affect her by mentioning Arize, and thinks that his argument is “spurious,” (Adichie 189) baseless. Olanna’s repulsion towards Odenigbo’s attitude indicates that while nationalism can further tensions through Othering, individuals of the nation do not always see and define people as a collectivity.

Binary oppositions between the Igbo and the Hausa, the self and the other, are created in the novel. However, during the course of the narrative such distinctions are also blurred. Commenting on the violence inflicted on the Igbo in the north, Olanna says, “[…] we are all capable of doing the same things to one another, really” (Adichie 222). Here Olanna provides her own commentary on the “nationalist propaganda,” as she refrains from assigning the roles of “good” to the Igbo or “evil” to the Hausa (Palmberg and Petersen 94). Ugwu responds to her by saying “No, mah. We are not like those Hausa people” (Adichie 222). Despite Ugwu’s seeming conviction in this matter, he becomes an oppressor when conscripted in the Biafran army and abuses an innocent civilian female bartender. Hence, he too becomes a part of the ‘evil’ that he had earlier resented. The cause of the war was to free innocents from oppression. However, this view is refuted when they realize that it is the innocent and helpless who are the first targets, the most hurt and defeated. Hence, a process of revelation unfolds and peels away from the belief they have in the nationalist cause of Biafra— about a better life post the successful creation of this nation. But even within the nationalism of these characters is a concealed ambivalence regarding the cause. While at the refugee camp, Olanna is conflicted by her loyalty for Biafra and her distaste towards the oppression faced by the innocent. When she teaches at the refugee camp, she comes across a student who, referring to the Nigerians, says “I want to kill all the vandals, miss” (Adichie 353). Disturbed, Olanna narrates this incident to Odenigbo. He assures her that she is doing no wrong by teaching them patriotism, but she is still plagued by doubts. Olanna’s doubts are not a weakness, but rather the strength of her character (Masterson 146). Her indeterminacy allows her to think critically about the war and its consequences, whereas Odenigbo is convinced that secession is the right solution to the violence inflicted on the Igbo in the north. Solid convictions can leave little room for critical evaluation, and this is evident in the case of Biafran nationalism.


The Nation as a Family

Innocent civilians suffer in the cause of the nation, yet the masses continue to express patriotism. Benedict Anderson discusses the concepts of patriotism and political love, and draws an analogy between how a nation and a family function (Anderson 143). The vocabulary used to refer to a nation often connotes to kinship, an example of which is the use of the word ‘motherland’ (Anderson 143). Thus, Anderson states that just as kinship is natural and ‘unchosen,’ so is membership and fidelity towards a nation (Anderson 143). Olanna’s fidelity towards the cause of Biafra is due to a sense of duty that she feels towards it. She is wronged by her parents, which is exemplified by the fact that they offer her as a commodity to the minister in exchange for financial gain. Yet she remains relatively loyal to them and does not sever ties. In the same way, Biafra asks her to undergo psychological trauma and suffer personal and financial losses. But Olanna does not abandon the nation, her supposed family, due to a communal sense of fidelity.

Olanna propagates patriotism while teaching children about the Biafran flag:

“[…] she unfurled Odenigbo’s cloth flag and told them what the symbols meant. Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the North, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of a yellow sun stood for the glorious future”  (Adichie 279, emphasis mine).

In Olanna’s description of the flag, the color green and a rising sun stand symbolize prosperity and a glorious future. The description not only refers to other citizens as “siblings,” but also renders a sense of familial identification and showcases a “sense of communion” (Anderson 143). This, Anderson states, is characteristic of the people of a nation (Anderson 143). Even though Olanna has never met the people who were massacred in the North, she refers to them as their siblings. She also holds up mourning and suffering as an ideal of the nation, of being Biafran. Bhabha states that “the nation fills the void left in the uprooting of communities and kin, and turns that loss into the language of metaphor. Metaphors transfer the meaning of home and belonging across an area, which spans the imagined community” (Location of Culture 200). So, referring to other Biafrans as members of their family would instill a sense of belonging across the nation. In Half of a Yellow Sun, people frequently refer to their enemy as the people of the north, implying that they would assert their home in the south-eastern region by creating, waging and solidifying national borders between the two areas. Ironically, in the will to assert the idea of a stable home and a sense of belonging, the characters are constantly displaced from their houses. Due to the Biafran cause Odenigbo, Olanna, Ugwu and Baby are forced to move from their home in Nsukka to a refugee camp. This physical displacement mirrors the displacement in ideologies of characters like Olanna and Ugwu, who earlier support the cause of Biafra but later become unsure of its legitimacy.

If the nation is envisioned of as a family, then Richard’s relationship with Kainene would appropriate him as a Biafran. Richard even begins to conceive of himself as a Biafran when the secession of the state is announced. He imagines proposing to Kainene: “He wanted to ask her to marry him. This was a new start, a new country, their new country” (Adichie 211). Henceforth, he refers to Kainene as his ‘wife.’ But Richard seeing his marriage to Kainene as a vehicle that connects him to her nation is problematized by the fact that in the course of the novel, Richard and Kainene never sign a formal contract to be married. Nor do they go through any traditional rituals that would categorize them as husband and wife. So, in the eyes of the Biafran society, Richard and Kainene are never actually married. Consequently, from the perspective of the nation, Richard is never truly a Biafran. The woman to whom Richard refers to Kainene as his wife does not notice his “Igbo-speaking whiteness,” (Adichie 426) so it is only in certain isolated situations where people do not see his inclusion in the Biafran group as unusual and unacceptable. Kainene is oblivious to the fact that she has been referred to as Richard’s wife, so whether or not she perceives him as a Biafran is ambiguous.


Performance of National Identity

National identity brings with it a kind of performance, which is more often than not ‘expected’ from persons. This performance is evident through one’s clothing, behavior, adherence to explicated cultural norms or even a more overt announcement of the form of identity one belongs to. Performance and identity are closely connected within postcolonial identity (Alghamdi 55). The idea of this kind of performance finds its roots from Michel Foucault’s concept of identity as “constructed rather than a product of essentialist qualities” (Alghamdi 55). Therefore, within a specific cultural context, identity can be “constructed in a certain way”  (Alghamdi 55). The borders of Nigeria were drawn by the British colonizers, not by Nigerians themselves. Hence, the people of the region were left to grapple between what they perceived as their identity and the one assigned to them by their colonizer. Due to the differences within a place, even a place that has oppression by colonizers in common, the “collective experience of nationness” and strategies of representation have to be negotiated (Location of Culture 2). In one of the gatherings at Odenigbo’s house, Professor Ezeka and Miss Adebayo argue that they must have a pan-African response to the oppression faced by Africans in America. Odenigbo counters this, stating that pan-Africanism is a “European notion” (Adichie 18). He claims that a more accurate method of categorization would be according to tribe. This is because in his view, his identity as an Igbo existed before the entry of colonizers in Nigeria.

Professor Ezeka, Miss Adebayo, and Odenigbo all try to negotiate their strategies of representation as they have wholly different ideas on what form of identity they must adopt. Professor Ezeka and Miss Adebayo engage in what Gayatri Spivak refers to as the “strategic use of essentialism in a scrupulously visible political interest” (Spivak 205). The political interest here is to present a stronger united front in the face of oppression faced by Africans, a minority group in South America. But Spivak also states that a strategy is not a theory as it can only be used in certain situations (Morton 75). Hence, the strategic use of essentialism is “most effective as a context-specific strategy,” but cannot prove to be a “long-term political solution to end oppression and exploitation” (Morton 75). Once the issue of African oppression is solved, the need for this form of representation would also weaken. If adherence to a form of identity is determined according to its strategic use, then strategies change over time and hinder the formation of even a near-stable form of representation. Therefore, while pan-Africanism may transiently serve as an effective mode of representation, its viability is limited due to the very reasons for which it is being proposed.

Odenigbo, on the other hand, argues that their identity does not originate from being African. He believes that their conception of identity must be established on a tribal and linguistic basis. So from his perspective, people must go back to the identity they (supposedly) had before the entry of the colonizers and it is with this identity that they may construct a new nation. Odenigbo’s views in the novel serve as an “ominous statement” for the events that would follow, as it is the same ideas that are used to further the Biafran conflict (Rushton 1). But even this view of tribal categorization being the ‘authentic’ mode of representation is subverted by Professor Ezeka. Professor Ezeka states that it is in the face of white oppression that the once colonized became more aware of their tribal identity. So, the tribe is not an entity that preceded colonization, but in fact it is due to colonization that the tribe has become a means of identification. Hence, the disparity between people of the newly formed Nigeria about how they should perceive their (national) identity showcases not just negotiation of identity, but also the complexity of attempting to isolate it under one definable mode.

While performance of the national ‘Biafran’ identity by indigenous Africans is perceived in the novel as patriotism, Richard’s performance of being a Biafran is seen as him mimicking a culture other than his own. An illustration of this is the discriminatory treatment he receives from Colonel Madu; Madu ignores Richard’s ability to speak the Igbo language and constantly responds to him in English. However, Richard includes himself in the Biafran struggle when speaks to Kainene about his book on the war:

“[…] the title of the book came to Richard: “The World Was Silent When We Died.” He would write it after the war, a narrative of Biafra’s difficult victory, an indictment of the world. Back in Orlu, he told Kainene about … how the book title had come to him. She arched her eyebrows. “We? The world was silent when we died?”

“I’ll make sure to note that the Nigerian bombs carefully avoided anybody with a British passport,” he said.

Kainene laughed” (Adichie 372).

The use of “we” in the title by an indigenous Biafran would have been seen by the other characters as a form of collective identification to one’s nation, similar to the use of words connoting kinship in nationalist discourse. However, when used by Richard, for the other characters in the novel it represents a form of mimicry. Hence, his use of the word ‘we’ “ruptures” the dominant discourse (Location of Culture 123) and causes Kainene to question this. The effect of mimicry on the authority of the dominant discourse is “profound” and “disturbing,” because it produces “another knowledge of the norms,” (Location of Culture 123) regardless of how questionable and incoherent the norms themselves may be. Hence, Richard is never fully accepted as a Biafran. The reason for this is that his presence quite simply questions the notion of unchosen factors such as race determining citizenship in a nation. Richard’s mimicry (or perception of it) poses a threat to this naturalized view of citizenship, as it problematizes the “signs of racial and cultural priority” (Location of Culture 125). This is especially ironic for a region where ideals such as language and fidelity towards a nationalist cause are held up as signs of belonging to a nation. Hence, his exclusion from Biafra reveals a fissure in the ideals proposed and actual actions of the region’s indigenous inhabitants.


Conclusion: Nation— an Intangible Entity

In his narrative, Ugwu defines postcolonial Nigeria as “a collection of fragments held in a fragile clasp” (Adichie 195). The clasp threatens to break, and does so in the form of a brutal civil war that affects the lives of millions. In the absence of their colonizer, the entity that had Othered them for several years, the once colonized become susceptible to othering among themselves. Hence, the conquest for power and domination continues as patterns evident during colonization are repeated in the postcolonial context. Political reasons for seeking secession through war are regularly explicated in Half of a Yellow Sun, but the reason for the citizens of a nation to support its cause may be more complex and obscure. If parallels are drawn between the way a nation and a family function, then this support can arise from a sense of duty towards a person’s family/nation. In this way, connections are formed between the characters’ personal lives and their political circumstances. In the novel, the politics of the nation are revealed through how political events pervade the personal lives of characters. Instead of focusing on who takes the blame in the war, the narrative places emphasis on the fact that power struggles can lead to unnecessary pain and suffering. I believe this is where the novel derives its strength from.

The concept of a nation is analogous to the concept of light. Light cannot be ‘seen’ by the human eye as an independent entity, but only when reflected onto other surfaces. In the process of reflection, the surfaces, the subjects, are illuminated. Similarly, the concept of a nation can be analyzed when reflected, that is, when discussed, by the participants of nationalist discourse. This reflection reveals information about the participants, and in the case of Half of a Yellow Sun, the characters. The illumination also reveals several issues with identity and categorization, which are depicted in the discussions Odenigbo’s house and more particularly, in the case of Richard. Richard’s identity is problematized by his British origins, which are seen as foreign and not in line with the naturalized view of the nation. Richard’s presence brings into question all explicated ideals and notions of nationhood as a coherent entity and destabilizes the idea as a whole. Hence, in the cause of a new nation, there is much bloodshed and trauma for an ideology that is not as stable as purported to be.



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