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Read Around the World: Nigeria

nigerian flag

The next stop on our world tour of reading is The Federal Republic of Nigeria. Here are some facts about Nigeria (and please feel free to add your own facts in the comments section):

  • Nigeria has the largest population in Africa with over 170 million people and approximately 250 ethnic groups. The Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo are the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria.
  • Archaeological discoveries have shown that Nigeria is one of the oldest locations of human existence.
  • The official language is English but more than 500 native languages are also spoken.
  • Home to Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry that trails just behind Bollywood
  • It is the 12th largest producer of crude oil in the world
  • Average life expectancy is 52 years old due to poor healthcare, living conditions, and lack of access to clean water.
  • Nigeria has been plagued by sectarian violence, military coups, and corruption as a result of both ethnic and religious tensions.

half-of-a-yellow-sun-uesiqgBook Selected: Half of a Yellow Sun
 by Chimamanda Ngozi Acidly
Published in: 2006
Find it/buy it here:Half of a Yellow Sun

Reason Selected: To be honest, the main reason we selected this book is because we both loved it and wanted to share it with you. The book is also a good selection to represent Nigeria for several reasons: 1) It gives readers a background to understanding some of the sectarian violence that has plagued Nigeria for many years; 2) it is filled with descriptions of cultural traditions; and 3) it follows characters from different backgrounds, highlighting the diversity of traditions within Nigeria. But more than anything, this book is a beautiful novel about a country and a people who have struggled with adversity.

Synopsis (from Good Reads): In 1960s Nigeria, a country blighted by civil war, three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.

Jen’s Review:

I loved this book and it gets my first 5-star rating of the year. Half of a Yellow Sun tells the story of the Biafran war in the late 1960s (1967-1970) from the perspective of multiple characters: 1) Olanna – the beautiful and well-educated daughter of Chief Ozobia; Richard – an English writer who comes to Nigeria to write a book on Ibgo art and who falls in love with Olanna’s twin sister; and 3) Ugwa young village boy who becomes a house boy. The story alternates between two time periods (early 1960s and late 1960s) which correspond to events before the start of the war and events after the start of the war.

This book was heartbreaking and Adichie did a wonderful job in describing the struggles of the Biafran people and the horrors of living in a nation torn apart by war, ethnic differences, and violence. The writing was wonderful and I liked the fact that we follow multiple characters whose responses to their situation vary considerably. I found the women in the book to be very strong characters and I liked how Adichie detailed their growth in the face of horrible circumstance.

I loved the book although the events described made me feel angry and at times sick to my stomach. It is incredible to imagine that the world just sat back indifferent to the violence that was occurring. This was a thought-provoking and emotional read for me. While focused on war, it also highlighted the resilience and courage of many people and the love between family and friends.

Highly recommended for all adult readers (strong violence, sexual violence not appropriate for younger readers).

Book Worm’s Review:
Rating: ★★★★★

Set in the 1960’s this is the story of the war between the Muslim Hausa in the North of Nigeria and the tribal Igbo in the South.

Supported by Britain the Hausa begin a campaign of genocide against the Igbo which leads to them creating the doomed state of Biafra, a place where they can be free from persecution.

The story is a human story and at its heart are the twin daughters of Chief Ozobia, Olanna the beauty and Kainene the brains both women fall for very different men. Olanna for Odenigbo the revolutionary and Kainene for Richard the English man who has visited Nigeria to write about the history of its clay pots only to find himself falling in love with the country and its people.

A constant present in the novel is the House boy Ugwu and the story of Biafra is really his story.

The book contains detailed descriptions of killings and of the horrors of starvation and disease it is a fascinating, compelling, well written story that has made me appreciate the human side of the news stories we so often ignore.

Would highly recommend this book

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Shelley S #

    One of the best books I’ve read in years. It’s about the Nigerian Civil War, the one in which Biafra declared independence and the western powers let Nigeria starve the rebels into submission. 4 stars

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2015
  2. Lynsey #

    I loved this book and hope others will be inspired to read it!


    March 15, 2015

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