Plaited hair in a calabash – Adichie on the Biafran landscape

Ugochukwu, Francoise (2012). Plaited hair in a calabash – Adichie on the Biafran landscape. Mbari: the International Journal of Igbo Studies, 2(1-2) pp. 49–59.


Born seven years after the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie comes from a family that experienced the conflict first hand. In her remarkable second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), Adichie relives the war: news of Igbo massacres and horror stories told by haggard eye-witnesses who escaped from the north; the flight from the university town of Nsukka just before the first battles; groups and individuals on the move on crowded roads; lovers torn apart by a conflict that divided the country; fears over children’s health as food scarcity hit the eastern region; daily bombardments and the ominous presence of death, its inevitability and horror; a life reduced to an hour by hour survival, without any future in sight. Death is at the very centre of this novel clearly haunted by parents’ and relatives’ memories of the northern massacres of 1966, massacres whose graphic descriptions and distressing details echo through the pages and are branded into its fabric.. The book may have taken many liberties with history, yes, yet its fictitious aspects, including characterization aptly and vividly evoke the atmosphere of fear and despair of the time.

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