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The relevance of Uwem Akpan and Chimamanda Adichie

Posted on: April 21, 2011

The recent killings in Northern Nigeria is reminiscent, to a smaller degree, of the Igbo killings prior to the Biafran War. Then, as now, it was sparked by politics dominated by ethnic affiliations. Sure, the perpretators insist it has nothing to do with ethnicity, but it is difficult to accept that when southerners in the north are incinerated after a southerner wins the elections. Not all northerners are engaged in the horrific images rolling through the internet, thankfully. Unfortunately, writers have shown what happens when prejudice takes over reason.  

When Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun came out, there were those who wished she hadn’t resurrected the past. It’s over and done with, the critics wailed. Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them was dismissed as useless. One wishes it were less than authentic. The stomach-turning events are all the more unbearable because they are narrated from the point of view of children.

It is a sad fact that history is considered worthy only when it’s on CNN or ABC’s World News, not when an African tries to tell his story. Often, the detractors are none other than fellow Africans who would rather forget. But we need to learn about history if only to give us pause when we find ourselves sliding down the same muddy slope. Africa needs the wise of the continent to use their words to force people to examine their world. Let’s read, learn and prevent another era of Luxurious Hearses rumbling towards the south with decomposing cargo, and of retaliation from the south. And for goodness sake, you leaders who claim to love your countries so, when you lose elections, just make a graceful exit, will you?


5 Responses to "The relevance of Uwem Akpan and Chimamanda Adichie"

I think we’ve become immune to human suffering and sometimes it gets to the point that there’s so much of it that we have an automatic non-reaction of tuning it out. Case in point, I saw a group of people leaving their home because of a conflict (somewhere in Africa), but I can’t quite pinpoint which country it was.

Unfortunately, the media picks and chooses what they want to cover and if it’s not newsworthy enough it doesn’t get sustained attention and the public continues to avoid thinking about it and the powers that can do something about it, do nothing until it’s in their interest to do something.

Hi J.L.

Great to hear from you. What you say is all too sad, but true!


When a situation is well re-situated or re-cast by a teller of the situation, it may look out that some people become restless and consider it a thing of importance, and indeed, at best to shout and figure out ways to put the re-emerged situation off of current discourse. No matter how some people may try, it is likely not to be this time with the global social media recreating events that shaped people and their situation in society such as Nigeria and Biafra. Boko Haram is simply retelling the feelings Biafran people had in the 1960 and afterwards since ever. Nigeria has not changed much despite the Biafra’s cause.

Articulating the above by Bisiadjapon is reflective and I just like it.

Thanks very much for your comment, Patrick. Let’s hope we learn from the past and not keep alive the hatred that get us into genocides.

Best wishes for the New Year.

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You have touched some nice factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

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