Half of a Yellow Sun

"Half of a Yellow Sun" reminds us of J. P. Clark’s poem, 'The Casualties', for in the end, we are all casualties.

Half of a Yellow Sun is anchored on Olanna’s unending love for Odenigbo, who fails to caution his uncouth mother and even goes ahead to impregnate another woman.  Redoubtable Olanna stands by Odenigbo and together they weather all sorts of storms against their relationship, including the enervating Biafra war, to become man and wife.

They struggle through the war together, moving from one town to another in a bid to survive. Kainene, Olanna’s brash twin sister, ends up as an unlikely casualty of the war, leaving Richard utterly devastated.

Biyi Bandele’s directorial debut, an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel of the same title, lays the futility of human conflicts bare for all to see and it is a timely message for all those spoiling for showdowns in Nigeria, Africa and different parts of the world.

It is also very numbing to see how blood-thirsty some individuals could be during conflicts, killing and maiming innocent people, who lack the power to address the agitations of the aggrieved. This film is an emphatic call on all parties in any dispute to seek dispute resolution mechanisms before problems lead to bloodshed.

Almost everything works in this film save for the pronunciation of several Igbo names and towns.  Igbo people do not find it funny when others pronounce Igbo as Ibo, the anglicized version of the word.  How unpardonable then it is for Igbo people in the film, especially Odenigbo to repeatedly say ‘Ibo’.

This is unacceptable since he is an Igbo man, who grew up in Igboland.  Uke and Abba are also wrongly pronounced even by some Nigerian members of the cast. Amala, Kainene and Ugwu are some of the names that are incorrectly pronounced in the movie.  Odenigbo’s attempt to ‘Nigerianize’ his accent is awful on many occasions.

Reviewing Blood and Oil, a BBC thriller that stars David Oyelowo,Sam Dede, Johdi May and Naomi Harris; in NEXT on Sunday (4th April, 2010), Chimamanda Adichie asserted that ‘It is lazy at best and patronizing at worst to use characters who mostly speak a kind of generic Africanized English; they become caricatures.

Details matter because they lend authenticity and, for a knowledgeable viewer, can make the entire film believable or not’.

Why did the producers not hire a line producer to coach the cast?  If they hired one, then the person did not do a thorough job.

Where is the song that D’Banj is said to have composed for the film?  It was not used in any part of the film.

I beg to differ with Olanna’s aunt played by Gloria Young.  She told her niece: ‘Never behave as if your life depends on a man.  Odenigbo has done what all men do, which is insert his penis in the first hole he could find when you were not around.’  Yes, no woman should ever latch on to a man, making him her all in all and probably neglecting relationships with friends and family.

However, it is not all men that betray their wives and lovers.  It is also a fact that a majority of men cheat on their wives, but there are exceptions.  People, who find themselves in Olanna’s aunt’s shoes, should rather advise their loved ones to go into relationships with men who absolutely respect them.

Yet, Half of a Yellow Sun will catch your attention.  In fact, several people have confessed that they have seen the movie more than once.  Indeed, it reminds us of J. P. Clark’s poem, The Casualties, for in the end, we are all casualties.

Reviewed by Amarachukwu Iwuala.

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