Let us talk about a phenomenal contemporary literary figure, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, or simply Chimamanda. My admiration for Chimamanda’s literary works is not pegged on any feministic undertones therein but on her language adornment skills, the relatable thematic concerns, the strong willed characters and the simple yet unpredictable plot. I do not mean to say that I am not a feminist; I love women and advocate for their fair treatment in the society. However, I believe that as we get there, men’s rights must also not be trampled on. So call me a liberal feminist, if you like.
Now, let us dissect Chimamanda’s Half of a Yellow Sun. She tells the story of an ugly and destructive Biafran war in a very subtle and raw sense. This historic turmoil is juxtaposed with blooming love between some major characters. Most striking is the relationship between Kainene and Richard, a white man. With the prevailing war conditions and their racial difference their love is tested beyond imagination.
Odenigbo, a university lecturer is married to Kainene’s twin sister, Olana, also an intellectual. This woman gives up her life for this man. She leaves her affluent family for Odenigbo’s impoverished one. She has to deal with a toxic mother-in-law who brings her son a “proper” African wife; one who can bear children at the expected speed. She stays even after her husband cheats on her with the maid (the same girl mama brought). Consequently a child is sired. Believe it or not, she adopts this child and loves her wholly! How much can a woman do for love? And how would Olana’s life be without the utterly loyal servant Ugwu?
Adichie has mastered the art of suspense. Who even knew Kainene would disappear, never to be found? I am one of those readers who were waiting for a “happy ever after” kind of ending for her and Richard. I was terribly disappointed. Up to date, I have not come to terms with the disappearance of my favourite character. That was quite sinister of the writer, wasn’t it?
My fellow book lovers, what struck you in this text?