Friday, July 21, 2006

Yellow Sun

Thanks for all the kind words, I'm recuperating slowly. At least my keyboard is no longer gets covered in nose "water" whenever I hover over it. Typing this, my nose is the driest it's been in a few days. CM, I wouldn't have picked you out as a Michael Jackson back cataloguer! Akin, what can I say, what can I say? Ayoke, isi ewu (more Igbo vocab), thank you very much.

Speaking of Igbo, I went for a New Stateman summer shindig last night. As a former serf, sorry intern (easily mixed up), I was humbly invited by the man who organised it, the good Sam. The party had the great and the good of journalism and politics, Maitlis, Buerk, Hilsum, Hoon, MacShane, and Marshall-Andrews. Couldn't move for hacks and politerati. I met someone who has quite possibly written the first review of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's new book, Half of a Yellow Sun. The title comes from a short story she wrote. And, probably refers to the Biafran flag, which had a half yellow glowing sun jutting out of the middle black band (see flag) - the Biafran anthem was Land of the Rising Sun. It should appear in the Literary Review soon. I wanted to strangle him, as I'd kill to read the book. Perhaps I should have strangled him.

"The best book I've read all year", he said. Apparently, apart from the merits of the book in literary terms, it doesn't shy away from the politics. This is music to my ears. People don't want to talk about Biafra, the pink elephant in the cubicle. How on earth can Nigeria avoid it? But we trundle on, as if the fissures of 1966-70 have been mended. I also spoke to someone else who helped her with the book, and is acknowledged in it. "In twenty years time, she'll be talked about in the same breath as Chinua Achebe." Not my words. People don't make such comparisons lightly. So if this book is as successful as is anticipated, the whole world will be asking about Biafra. While we look at the pink elephant and hope it shrinks and disappears.

21 comments:

ayoke said...

Hmm... let's wait for the book. How on earth can Nigeria avoid Biafra? I venture to say it is because the Igbo people are yet to form a common front on Biafra such that it would be on the national agenda. It's not enough to have breaths of it scattered within and in diaspora. I think it is more of a need to have the people most affected unite in canvassing for their cause. It is only then that the issue will be taken seriously. I have always maintained that people have a right to self determination, in the course of which they can demand for justified reparation and even a national apology for past atrocities. However, the right to self determination has never been one paid for with an easy price. Take a look at Eritrea and Ethiopia, Serbia and Kosovo, etc. The people who desire it most must work concertedly for it. What are the Igbo politicians doing about Biafra in Abuja? What are the Igbo businessmen doing about Biafra? What are Igbo students doing about Biafra? Are these not enough constituencies to form at least one lobbying group? A lobbying group powerful enough to stimulate a national catharsis.

Half a Yellow Sun may be a good start, but a lot more work needs to be done. You cannot ask Nigeria how Nigeria can avoid the issue. The only reason why Nigeria has avoided it thus far is because the people affected have not done enough to make sure the issue cannot be avoided. It's all about politics, remember. And that game is all about interests.

culturalmiscellany said...

I can take no credit for my Michael Jackson back catalogue. As normal I piched it from Mr O's iPod ;)

aihammed delot said...

@ayoke: after reading the reviews, i dont think hlaf a yellow sunshine is about resolution - so i dont think its even a start in that sense, but if you mean it brings Biafra to the forefront, then you're right, i apologise.
To even say her name in the same breath as Chinua Achebe says alot about her...I'm waiting

Opium said...

Ayoke, I don't agree with your sentiments but I confess that I don't understand your point.

Indeed apologies need to be made in dealing with the issue of Biafra but at the same time national unity must be fostered. Are you advocating secession by using examples from the Balkans and the horn of Africa? If you are, I think you're being somewhat careless given the number of people that died in those conflicts and the on-going conflict in Eritea/Ethiopia.

The story to be learned from Biafra is that we must join together as one country and not let religion and ethnicity be the cause of needless death and strive. If this book, helps Nigerians realise that the atrocities of war are not unique to other African states then maybe they will be encouraged to strive together instead of against each other.

Everchange said...

glad you're better. I'm so excited about Half a yellow sun. I hope it comes out in Lagos at the same time (though I doubt it).

ayoke said...

Opium, you miss the point totally. And you're right that you do not understand my point. I will break down my comment to you and explain in the hope that you get the point:

"How on earth can Nigeria avoid Biafra? I venture to say it is because the Igbo people are yet to form a common front on Biafra such that it would be on the national agenda. It's not enough to have breaths of it scattered within and in diaspora. I think it is more of a need to have the people most affected unite in canvassing for their cause."

Nkem asked a question in his post on how on earth can Nigeria avoid Biafra. I reply that the only reason why the issue is being avoided is because the people concerned are yet to unite on what they want. Some want the federation. Others want to leave. Nobody knows the common ground, hence nobody takes the issue seriously.

I have always maintained that people have a right to self determination, in the course of which they can demand for justified reparation and even a national apology for past atrocities. However, the right to self determination has never been one paid for with an easy price. Take a look at Eritrea and Ethiopia, Serbia and Kosovo, etc.

I went on to say that much as I support a peoples' right to self determination (and that does not necessarily imply that it must be through violence. For your information, Eritrea didn't come into existence through a war. The problems they have now originate from personal differences between Melez and Aferweke. It is reputed that they are cousins), the affirmation of that right can have dangerous consequences. That is why I gave the examples of Kosovo. I hope you can now see that this statement contradicts your " Are you advocating secession by using examples from the Balkans and the horn of Africa? If you are, I think you're being somewhat careless given the number of people that died in those conflicts and the on-going conflict in Eritea/Ethiopia."

I was actually cautioning against secession, even though I believe that if the Igbo people come together and demand autonomy in a peaceful manner, it is definitely not impossible to let them go.

The people who desire it most must work concertedly for it. What are the Igbo politicians doing about Biafra in Abuja? What are the Igbo businessmen doing about Biafra? What are Igbo students doing about Biafra? Are these not enough constituencies to form at least one lobbying group? A lobbying group powerful enough to stimulate a national catharsis.

I then went on to say that the Biafra issue can only be addressed if all the Igbo constituencies demand that it be addressed. And note that I noted "lobbying". This, in my opinion, envisages a political solution. I did not call for a revolution. And I specifically noted that the lobbying should have the effect of a national catharsis. Catharsis in that context, and I dare to say in any context, is not violent. It is a purgatory act to come to terms with past. An apology, a truth commission, some form of restorative justice; definitely not retributive justice. You may research further into the various forms of transitional justice. Secession, which, you imply (not I), is usually violently done.

I hope the air is cleared now. If you still don't understand my point, do let me know. I'll try again.

kemi said...

Good grief.

What a ridiculously long explanation, Ayoke. It was even more confusing than the ambiguous first post.

"I then went on to say, I then went on to say, I then went on to say" and on top of that copying and pasting ad nauseam from your initial unintelligible post.

If that was an attempt to clear up a point, then God help us all.

And with your poor grasp of Occam's Razor you're even condescending to Opium on top of it.

I just hope you're not a teacher.

ayoke said...

@ Kemi: I wish I could condescend to exchanging words with you but I won't. I have once told you that you are obviously intelligent but insulting people will get you nowhere. If you're already somewhere, it will definitely not keep you there. You can continue your insults from hereon. Rest assure that I won't honour you with a reply.

Opium said...

Ayoke, I don't understand why you've chosen to be confrontational and patronising all in the same breath, but oh well. Now that you have "explained" yourself, I'll say without equivocation that I disagree with you. Get over it and please don't bother to justify your view by condescending to exchange words with me.

Re Nkem's question on how on earth can Nigeria ignore Biafra:

Nigeria ignores Biafra by pretending that the war did not happen. National ignorance is not fuelled by the absence of a unified Igbo voice but by a failure to deal with the issues that led to the massacre of the Igbos in the north, which then allowed certain elements in the military to take advantage of the situation for their selfish gain.

Re self-determination and violence:

Eritrea was an independent territory, annexed by Ethiopia, it gained its independence from Ethiopia in the early nineties. The Ethiopian/Eritrean border crisis is better looked at from this point of view and not from the point of view of a spat between cousins.

Kosovo was an autonomous region within the former Yugoslavia before it was stripped of its autonomy and one must view the Kosovan conflict in that light.

Therefore, my point remains that it is careless of you to equate Eritrea and Kosovo to Biafra. Your point is all the more inappropriate because Biafra did not exist as a sovereign entity of any sort prior to 1966/67 (moving away from argument that Nigeria is itself an artifical construct).

The Biafra/Nigeria issue can be addressed by Nigerians putting aside their ethnic differences and choosing to work together as one country instead of working against one other as different tribal groups.

Akin said...

Did I not read somewhere that this blog and its commentary should not be read and analysed as if it we are writing for the London Review of Books?

If people can just concentrate on the salient points no matter how convoluted, seeking clarification where ideas are confused - a better exchange and communication can be achieved.

Like a good, but now deceased preacher used to say - Have as much sense as an old cow, eat the hay and leave the baling wire.

You cannot blame the baler for getting your tongue entangled in the wire.

If you cannot find praise, find a way to damn with praise or leave it alone - Especially, especially, especially - one more time - if it is NOT your blog.

My Talking Beginnings said...

I must say that i am looking forward to the second coming of Adichie. In my opinion, i believe this affords most young Nigerians an opportunity to see into their past and history, afterall it is about time we learnt about our history and not America's or Britains!

Everchange said...

I just read an excerpt at randomhouse.com. I'm enchanted already.

uknaija said...

I too wait with bated breath

http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-1400044162-0

uknaija said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The comment by the girl called Ayoke is rather funny.He or she has said that kemi will not be honored with a reply. Do you not realise that you just replied her with youre last post?

Anonymous said...

I think if you read what she said carefully,you will see that she meant she would not reply with another insult.

Anyway, How come everyone is bullying Ayoke all of a sudden? Did I not get the memo?

Busola said...

I think if you read what she said carefully,you will see that she meant she would not reply with another insult.

Anyway, How come everyone is bullying Ayoke all of a sudden? Did I not get the memo?

Busola said...

ps, sorry for multiple posts. blogger is acting up again.

uknaija said...

Everchange, Half of a Yellow Sun, according to Farafina, the Nigerian publishers' website will be published on the 1st of September in Nigeria

Morountodun said...

Read an excerpt from Half of a yellow sun here

Uju said...

For as long as our parents generation is still alive, there will never be "One Naija" unless the issue pertaining to the time from Aguiyi-Ironsi's assassination till 1970 is discussed.
I agree with ayoke!