Inspired by the civil war that happened at the inception of Nigeria, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ uses quotes that show how the war ruined lives; these quotes deliver raw emotions that tell a story of how the civil war set a stage for more conflict.
My point is that the only authentic identity for the African is the tribe. I am Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black to be as different as possible from his white. But I was Igbo before the white man came.
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ showed how the identity of Nigeria before and after the colonial era set the stage for the civil war. In the quote above, Odenigbo tries making a point about how he was an Igbo man long before colonization. His ideology about Africa centered around tribalism. However, this shared ideology set the stage for the civil war as the lack of unified identity in the newly founded country created a path for racial hatred and killing.
The real tragedy of our postcolonial world is not that the majority of people had no say in whether or not they wanted this new world; rather, it is that the majority have not been given the tools to negotiate this new world.
Chimamanda tried to elaborate on how the elusive political strings in Nigeria before it gained independence led to the civil war of 1967. In the novel, Odenigbo always blamed colonization and capitalism for creating a Nigeria that solely favored the northerners and not Nigeria as a whole in politics. His view led him to conclude that Nigeria was a country for the northerners. Odenigbo’s view on Nigeria got shared by the vast majority of the eastern population; this perspective was what led the east to form the republic of Biafra.
Another quote related to identity include:
You have forgotten where you come from become so foolish you think you are a Big Man.
Then she wished, more rationally, that she could love him without needing him. Need gave him power without his trying; need was the choicelessness she often felt around him.
Olanna was a beautiful woman who loved Odenigbo with everything she had. Though his mother tried separating them, Olanna never gave up on her love. However, she felt that her loving Odenigbo made her feel helpless and hurt when his mother came between their relationship.
And it’s wrong of you to think that love leaves room for nothing else. It’s possible to love something and still condescend to it.
The quote above shows that love is a strong feeling that makes one succumb to what they cherish. Richard was a lover of Igbo-Ukwu art, and his love for the art made him fall in love with the Igbo people. However, during the war, Richard tried to write books about Igbo art to make his country see what transpired in the eastern part of Nigeria. He later felt helpless after he was unable to complete both books, and in this state of helplessness, he admitted that love misleads people.
Is love this misguided need to have you beside me most of the time? Is love this safety I feel in our silences? Is it this belonging, this completeness?
The quote above was a note written by Kainene to Richard. To her, love was not just a feeling that made a person want to be close to the one they were attracted to; it was a feeling that gave assurance and wholeness.
Why do I love him? I don’t think love has a reason. I think love comes first and then the reasons follow.
Olanna loved Odenigbo with all his flaws, and even though he hurt her, she felt that loving him was something she never thought of but just felt.
Other love quotes from ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ include:
Each time he suggested they get married, she said no. They were too happy, precariously so, and she wanted to guard that bond; she feared that marriage would flatten it into a prosaic partnership.
Don’t see it as forgiving him. See it as allowing yourself to be happy. What will you do with the misery you have chosen? Will you eat misery?
Journalism and War
Richard exhaled. It was like somebody sprinkling pepper on his wound: Thousands of Biafrans were dead, and this man wanted to know if there was anything new about one dead white man. Richard would write about this, the rule of Western journalism: One hundred dead black people equal to one dead white person.
Richard felt everyone should be equal, irrespective of their nationality or color. However, he realized that his country did not listen to what he was trying to tell them about the killing of the Biafran people. Richard’s love for Biafra made him despise his own country as he felt they only paid attention when there was a massacre.
This is our world, although the people who drew this map decided to put their own land on top of ours. There is no top or bottom, you see.
The quote above sheds light on how Odenigbo viewed the world. When Ugwu resumed as a houseboy, Odenigbo tried to pass his belief of equality down to him and repeatedly told him never to believe he was a lesser human being to anyone.
We never actively remember death,’ Odenigbo said. The reason we live as we do is because we do not remember that we will die. We will all die.
The quote above is a statement made by Odenigbo, who explained that life needed to be lived without pretense. He told Olanna that the best way to solve a problem is to face it and not avoid it because life is not about denying that death was inevitable; it is about embracing the truth.
Other quotes include:
Of course, we all hate somebody, but it’s about control. Civilization teaches you control.
His writing suddenly made her story serve a larger purpose that even she was not sure of.
The Biafran Flag
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.
The Biafran flag was a symbol that stood for remembrance and the glorious future. The quote above explains what each feature on the Biafran flag represents to the Biafran people.
Other Biafra-related quotes from ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ are:
Even the grass will fight for Biafra.
If the sun refuses to rise we will make it rise.
Is Half of a Yellow Sun tragic?
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ shows pain and sadness because of the Nigerian civil war.
Did Odenigbo die in Half of a Yellow Sun?
No, Odenigbo did not die in ‘Half of a Yellow Sun.’
What are some great quotes from Half of a Yellow Sun?
“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me? Aunty Ifeka said. Your life belongs to you and you alone.”
“My life will change only if I want it to change.“
“You can’t write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be.”