Thematic Concerns in Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Okpewho’s The Last Duty

Thematic Concerns in Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Okpewho’s The Last Duty




  • Background to the Study

 The Nigerian civil war, better known as the Biafra war of 6th July, 1967 -15th January, 1970, was a war fought between the government of Nigeria, and the secessionist state of Biafra which represents the Nationalist aspirations of the Eastern Nigerians, whose leadership felt they can no longer coexist with the Northern –dominated federal government. (According to Major Abubakar Atofarati: CSC 1992).

The conflict results from political, economic, cultural and religious tensions which proceeds Britain’s formal decolonization of Nigeria from 1960 – 1963. The immediate causes of the war in 1966, includes a military coup, a counter – coup, and persecution of the Easterners living in the Northern Nigerian, as well as the control over the lucrative oil production in the Niger-Delta.

On January, 15th, 1966, Nigerian actually experienced a coup , soldiers assumed control of the government, abolishing all democratic institutions, suspending the constitution and ruling by decree. Another coup takes place a few months later, which gives rise to military dictatorship in Nigeria. Events Nigeria becomes deeply embroiled in the ethic civil war, which inspires (The Last Duty) by Isidore Okpewho and (Half of a yellow sun) by Chimamanda Adichie.

On May 30th, 1967, Ojukwa declares the Eastern region to be a separate country from Nigeria, and names the new Nation the “Republic of Biafra”, with four African countries: Zambia, Tanzania, Gabon, Ivory Coast in full support, and on that 30th May1967, Nigeria declare war on the secessionist state of Biafra, under the Slogan, “To keep Nigeria one is a task, which must be done”.

In The Last Duty the political slogan is echoed as “To keep Zonda one, is a task which must be done”, and zonda is a fictional name for Nigeria. This begins the Nigeria civil war of 6th July 1967 – 15th January 1970, a conflict that drags for 30 months.

One dilemma on both sides is how to treat families with heritages in both Nigeria and Biafra. This problem is most acutely in border towns where people of different ethnic groups have intermarried and intermingled for decades. Generally, families with members of different ethnic groups on different sides of the war, experiences hard times establishing their unquestionable loyalty and in the end many of them splits up and returns to their individual places of origin rather than living under daily suspicion of their loyalty to a particular side. This type of families is at the root of the crisis in Okpewho’s The Last Duty and Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a yellow sun.

The civil war begins and people not born in the territories in which they find themselves, are at the mercy of their neighbors, who may trump up allegations of sabotage and collaboration with the enemy. Many innocent lives are lost to such charges, the means, as evident in the two texts, by which some malicious people settle old scores.

Random clashes between different ethnic groups have been a fact of life since independence. There have been various attempts to accommodate diverse ethnic interest in government and to achieve equity in power sharing and the distribution of amenities, but ethnic jealousies rivalries, suspicious, and mistrust still abounds.

From the aforementioned, the research work seeks to bring to bear the thematic concerns of the war, as seen in Adichie’s Half of a yellow sun and Okpewho’s The Last Duty. The work also brings to line light the societal disorder, emotional pains, conflicts, injustice and psychological damages that are experienced by the Nigerian citizens (Eastern Nigerians) during the three year civil war of 1967 – 1970.

  • Statement of the Problem

The declaration of the Eastern region to be a separate country from Nigeria, termed the “Republic of Biafra” on 30th May, 1967, led to the Nigeria civil war of 1967 – 1970 which is the cause of the researcher’s interest on the effects and consequence of the war on the individual and the society in general.

  • Purpose of the Study

Generally, the research work seeks to portray and analyses the thematic concerns in Adichie’s Half of a yellow sun and Okpewho’s The Last Duty. Therefore, the study will; examine the Nigeria civil war of 1967 -1970.

  • Access the effects of the war on the Nigerian society and the people at large.
  • Expose the cause of the war.
  • Expose the wicked and deceptive nature of political leaders in the Nigerian society.
    • Significance of the Study

The research work will bring out the casualties as well as the degrading effects of the Nigeria civil war of July, 6th 1967 January, 15th 1970.

It will educate members of the public on the general effects of war in any modern society, as well as the society disenfranchisement.

It will expose the bad policies of administration of the colonial masters.

The work will also serve as a reference manual for future researchers on related topics.

The work will also serve as didactic piece to the political class to desist from formulating obnoxious policies which will trigger of ethnic sentiments and animosity among citizens of our dear country.

  • Objective of the Study

The major objectives of this research work, includes the following:

to examine the thematic concerns in Adichie’s Half of a yellow sun and Okpewho’s The Last Duty;

to expose the injustice committed against innocent civilians, by highly placed individuals in the society;

to bring to bear the issues of tribalism which has gone a long way in posing threats to the spirit of oneness;

to portray the effects of most decisions taken by political leaders, even at the expense of the masses;

to vindicate literary icons on their exploits in exposing some of the societal misdemeanors and the presence of dichotomy between the various social strata, especially, the widening gap between the bourgeois (rich) and proletariats (Poor) in their literary adventure.

  • Research Methodology

The research work is basically a library research and internet browsing. Information gathered from primary works such as Adichie’s Half of a yellow sun and Okpewho’s The Last Duty, constitute the primary research method which are used to carry out this work.

The secondary sources are obtained from literary books such as critical works, and literary Journals.

  • Scope and Limitation of the study

The scope of the study is restricted to an investigation in the thematic concerns in Adichie’s Half of a yellow sun and Okpewho’s The Last Duty.

1.8.1    Bio-Data of Chimamanda Adiche

Chimamanda Adichie was born on the 15th of September, 1977, into the family of Mr. James Nwoye Adichie, in the city of Enugu.

She grew up being the fifth, of six children in an Igbo family in the University town of Nsukka, in South Eastern Nigeria, where the University of Nigerian is situated.

Adichie Studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. During this period, she edited the compass, a magazine run by the university’s catholic medical students.

At the age of 19, she left Nigeria for the United States to study communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She soon transferred to Eastern connection state University, to be near sister, who had a medical practice in Coventry. She received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern connection state university with the distinction of summacum laude in 2011.

In 2003, she completed a master’s degree in creative writings at John Hopkin’s University.  In 2008, she received a masters of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University.

In 2016, She was conferred an honourary degree Doctor of humane letters, Honoraries causal, by John Hopkin’s University.

Her works, includes: Decisions (collection of poems) – 1997 for love of Biafra – 1998 Purple Hibaicus – 2003 Half of a yellow sun – 2006. The thing around your neck – 2009. Americana – 2013. 

1.8.2    Bio-Data of Isidore Okpewho

Okpewho was born on the 9th of November, 1941, in Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria. His Urhobo Father, David Okpewho, was from Abraka in Delta state, a retired senior laboratory technician, and his Igbo mother, was from Asaba.

Subsequently, pursuing his Doctorate in us, he became an academics there, teaching at the university of Buffalo, the state university of new York from 1974 -1976 university of Ibadan from 1976 – 1990, Harvard university from 1990 -19991, and Birmingham University.

Prolific in his output, Okpewho wrote, co-wrote and edited some 14 books, dozens of article, and a seminal booklet, a portrait of the Artist as a scholar  an inaugural  lecture theater, University of  (Ibadan ) on 18th May, 1989.

He is the author of four respected novels, which are widely studied in Africa and other parts of the world, and translated into other languages.

His work includes: The Victims – 1970. The Duty – 1976.  The Epic in Africa – 1979. Myth in Africa -1983. Call me by my rightful name – 2014.

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