Chimamanda accuses Nigerian Government of “denial,” over Half of a Yellow Sun

State Security Service to determine fate of the movie in Nigeria.

The author of Half of Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Adichie, has accused Nigeria of denial in relation to the events of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War.

Ms. Adichie, in an article for The New Yorker on Thursday, questioned why the movie based on her critically acclaimed book has been delayed for release in Nigeria.

The movie, directed by Biyi Bandele, has been delayed twice by the Nigeria Film and Video Censors Board for cinematic release following its premiere in Nigeria in April.

“This week, Nigerian government censors delayed the release of the film adaptation of “Half of a Yellow Sun” because, according to them, it might incite violence in the country; at issue in particular is a scene based on a historically documented massacre at a northern Nigerian airport,” Ms. Adichie wrote in The New Yorker, an American literary magazine.

She revealed that the Board had left it up to the Nigeria State Security Service to decide whether the movie will be released or not.
“I find this absurd – security operatives, uniformed and alert, gathered in a room watching a romantic film – but the censors’ action is more disappointing than surprising, because it is part of a larger Nigerian political culture that is steeped in denial, in looking away,” Ms. Adichie said.

Although she conceded that the Board’s decision was not totally unreasonable considering the current security situation in Nigeria, she however insisted, “But we cannot hide from our history. Many of Nigeria’s present problems are, arguably, consequences of an ahistorical culture.”

Caesar Kagho, the Acting Head, Corporate Affairs of NFVCB, on April 28, explaining why the movie had been delayed said that the management of the NFVCB was ensuring that some unresolved issues in the movie were sorted out in accordance with the laid down regulations of the board. He did not, however, state the ‘unresolved issues.’

“Nigerians are sophisticated consumers of culture and, had the censorship board not politicised the film by delaying its release, I suspect that few people would have objected to it at all,” Ms. Adichie wrote.

The movie which will be released in the U.S. on May 14 is however enjoying mixed reviews with some critics praising the cast – which includes, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose – while others described it as “melodramatic,” sluggish,” and “in need of a bigger budget.”

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