Beyond Censorship: Contestation in Half of a Yellow Sun’s Cinematic Adaptation
Journal Title:NETSOL: New Trends in Social and Liberal Sciences
In the last few decades, particularly since 1999, Nigeria has been faced with enormous challenges. None, however, seems to trigger a deeper sense of apprehension than the thought or mention of Biafra. Though the country ‘ceased to exist’ in 1970, after a perfunctory reconciliation programme, Biafra, expressed either in figurative or rhetorical terms or principally as part of a future experiment or movement as seen recently in parts of Eastern Nigeria, evokes not only a feeling of mutual suspicion but a stark denial of a lived experience. The film, Half of a Yellow Sun, an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel with the same title, readily confirms this belief. Billed to screen in Nigerian cinemas on April 25, 2014, the film suddenly witnessed series of roadblocks by Nigeria’s Censors Board. Although the film eventually premiered in August of the same year, the Board’s initial refusal to certify the film, raised suspicions among citizens on Nigeria’s bland attitude towards any material expressions on the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. This study explores the trajectory of events that led to the censorship and eventual certification of the movie. It identifies and clarifies some historical inaccuracies depicted in the movie in the account of the civil war. The study argues that a film of this nature, irrespective of its framings, could serve as a veritable tool for a collective and useful discussion on the civil war, rather than the familiar contestations it evokes across divides.