Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s novel “Half of a Yellow Sun” is a brilliant portrayal of the politically turbulent times in Nigeria during the Nigeria - Biafra War of 1967. Her protagonist, a young boy named Ugwu leaves his life of penury in the village and comes to work as a houseboy for a university lecturer Odenigbo. Olanna, a young woman on the other hand leaves her privileged life in Lagos and moves in with her lover, the lecturer. Although far removed from the grassroots reality, their social discussions reveal the situation in the country; the atrocities committed by the dictator on the general public. Poverty, corruption, lack of basic amenities, political unrest plagues the country and Odenigbo is a part of the intelligentsia that hopes to improve situations by segregating and forming a separate country, Biafra. But their idealistic dreams are destroyed when the ground reality catches up with them. The military power of the dictator of Nigeria annihilates the rebels as the Biafrans are called. And the masses continue to remain deprived. Author Adiche makes a very strong political statement in the novel and subtly shows the unfortunate results of corruption.
b) Corruption is the bane of modern life and it is highlighted in the novel. Initially Olanna, benefitted from her father’s position in the government, then her twin sister Kainene’s proximity to Colonel Madu. Even after the rebellion when she desperately tried to get food for her baby, it was thanks to corruption that she succeeded. But ultimately it is only the people who are in power that can perpetuate corruption and if one does not support the right party one cannot get the benefits of corruption as Olanna realized when the rebellion started to fail. The fall out of corruption always deprives some part of society from their rightful due while filling the coffers of the other. So it is a very important issue that the author has addressed in her novel.
United Nations Global Programme Against Corruption defines corruption as “abuse of power for personal gain.” Corruption has been a major issue in Nigeria since before independence and has resulted in a huge divide between the rich and the poor. With the discovery of oil this corruption reached its peak. Nigerian leaders did not judiciously utilize the huge wealth generated, creating a major rift between the various ethnic communities. This has caused continuous social unrest compelling oppressed segments of the population to turn to militancy. The Nigerian government’s failure to provide basic amenities, like, electricity, drinking water, roads, health care and education to its ethnic minority is one of the main reasons behind the current conflict. The wealth from the oil rich Niger Delta is not being utilized for the development of that area and so youths from there are forming insurgency groups to fight for their rights.
The flashy cars and houses and wealth of a certain segment of society and the abject poverty of the masses are a result of corruption. This corruption is impeding the economic and physical development of Nigeria resulting in political turmoil that is continuing till today. You can find the reflection of the same issue of corruption in Chimamanda Ngozi Adhiche’s novel “Half of a Yellow Sun.”