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PROJECT TOPIC AND MATERIAL ON FACTS AND FICTION IN NIGERIAN WAR PROSE: CHINUA ACHEBE’S THERE WAS A COUNTRY AND CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN
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The study is on Facts and Fictions in Nigerian War Prose: Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country: A Personal History Of Biafra and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. The research aims to ascertain that There Was A Country is a prose work embedded on fact and Half of a Yellow Sun is a fictional prose work. It shows that the connection between There Was A Country and Half of a Yellow Sun is a common phenomenon called war (Nigerian-Biafra Civil War) using Historical and Biographical Approach. Hence, Chinua Achebe participated actively in the said war and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who was born seven years after the war recreates the stories told by people that participated in the war and from her power of details and imagination came up with her novel, Half of a Yellow Sun.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Approval Page ii
Certification Page iii
Table of Contents vii
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study 1
Statement of Problem 8
Purpose of the Study 8
Significance of the Study 8
Scope of the Study 9
Biography of the Authors 10
Chinua Achebe 10
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche 12
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED SCHOLARSHIP
Facts in Chinua Achebe’s There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra 23
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Half of a Yellow Sun as Fiction 31
Works Cited 42
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
“Fact” is something actual as opposed to invented; something which is real. It is also information about a particular subject, especially actual condition and/or circumstances. It is a piece of information about circumstances that exist or events that have occurred.
“Fiction” on the other hand is a literary work based on imagination and not necessarily on fact. It is a literary type using invented or imaginative writing instead of real facts, usually written as prose. Fictional writers invent their stories and use imaginary characters in their works of fiction. In support of this, M.H. Abram posits that:
Fiction is any literary narrative, whether in prose or verse which is invented instead of being an account of events that actually happened. In a narrower sense however, fiction denotes only narrative that are written in prose (the novel and short stories), and sometimes is used simply as a synonym for the novel. Literary prose narratives in which the fiction is to a prominent degree based on biographical, historical, or contemporary facts are often referred to by compound names such as “fictional biography”, the historical novel, and the non-fiction novel. (128)
They have concerned themselves with the logical analysis of the types of sentences that constitute a fictional text especially with the question of their truth, or what is sometimes called “truth-value”, that is whether, or in just what way they are subject to the criterion of truth or falsity. According to M.H Abrams, some thinkers have asserted that: “fictional sentences should be regarded as referring to special word created by the author, which is analogous to the real world but possesses its own setting, beings (character), and mode of coherence” (128).
In the words Emma Igiligi and Silas Ogenyi, prose fiction is: “a proof that profound enquiry into fundamental ideas can be conducted by means of it” in other words, prose no matter what form, provides a particular insight into human life” (54). Prose fictional writers nevertheless express themselves out of the desire to tell stories and to communicate human experiences such as war, marriage, love, etc
There was no country like Nigeria before 1914. Contrast for hundreds of years there existed within the geographical area known today as Nigeria peoples and nation identified as Igbo, Yoruba, Efik, Benin, Tiv, etc . After hundreds of years of Arab and European slavery and colonization, these and other nearby nations were amalgamated by the British government through the instrumentality of Fredrick Lugard in 1914. Nigeria as a political and social entity therefore has two main histories: “the histories of different peoples who make up the country and the history of Nigeria as one political entity. The former form of history is very old, some going back to hundred of years” (Emefiena 17).
Nigerian has been one experiencing or facing with one crisis or another arising from unhealthy ethnic and religious divisions. Clearly divided between the predominantly Muslim North and substantially Christian South, there is always endemic tension in the polity with the Muslim in the north often hinting to their perpetual right to federal control. From 1960-2014. Nigeria has 14 political leaders with their region of origin and religious affiliation are: North – 10, South- 4, Muslim 9, and Christian 5.
On January 15 1966, six years after Nigeria got its political independence, it had its first coup led by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna and Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu that ended the first republic which is remarkable in three major respects. The military takeover of the reigns of government; the massacre of the easterners, especially the Igbo by the Muslim Hausa in the North on May,1966, and the secession of the East and declaration of the republic of Biafra. This secession of the east and the declaration of the Republic of Biafra triggered off the Nigerian Biafran civil war (1967-1970).
Nigerian-Biafran war prose writers even though it took place four decades, the civil war still resonates in present day Nigerian and writers have taken the pains to write down experiences of the war , their thoughts, their hopes, and shattered dreams through fiction, faction, or fact.
Sunset at Dawn by Chukwuemeka Ike can be described as a satiric novel, a love story and war story. Ike drew inspiration from his own experience of the Biafran tragedy. He lived through this crisis and drew from there, the character of the novel as he had met a lot of personalities during the exigencies of war time. This novel takes the reader the heart of Biafra and gives the reader the chance to experience the situation of Biafra through eyes of different classes of people.
Mr. Sam, Omatseye, a journalist, poet and novelist has added too his own fictional voice to the civil war narratives in his latest novel My Name is Okoro. It is the account of the often forgotten minority people of Niger Delta, whose area was a theatre of war, but whose people do not surface in the war narrative in spite of their tremendous suffering during the war. Omatseye argued that his novel is about bridging the gap in the narratives about the plight of Niger Delta minorities in the war-Edo, Delta, Ibibio Calabar etc. He started:
I wrote the story about minorities’ experience given the the silence about them in the major narratives of that war. If you read Chinua Achebe, Chukwuemeka Ike and Adichie’s books, you d’ think of North. But Narrative is stereotyped and narrow. Adichie talks about the single story, but she writes a single story herself. The Guardian (54)
Jog Achuzia in his Requiem Biafra in very strong terms described his faith in the new nations, its prospects and challenges using photos to augment his story. As a general in Biafra Army and best known for his successful air raids against Nigeria army and success in bombing Nigerian defenses during battles, he was nickname “Hannibal” by his follow soldiers. He did a good job by describing the environment and situation of the eastern region at that time of the war at the same time analyzing the significant personalities whose actions and inactions had influence on the outcome of the war. He also explained the army formation, the young inexperienced but patriotic officers whose lives ended in the war, the part he played and the different parts of the east he served in.
Brigadier-General Alabi Isama, an officer at the 4th Area command of the Nigerian army in Benin-city, the Midwest capital before the Nigerian-Biafra
war broke out in July 1967, had a stint in Biafran army during their two months occupation of the Midwest from August 9, 1967, until he had a escape route to join the federal troops taking all forms of dangerous risks. In his The Tragedy of Victory, he provides the inside knowledge and information about separatist war in Nigeria from 1967-1970. The Tragedy of Victory is divided into three parts: In part one, he chronologically narrated the story of his early life. The only son of a mother in a polygamous inter – tribal marriage. In the second part he related in details the strategic plots and the ordeals experienced in the liberation of port-Harcourt and all the riverine cities, including Oron, Eket, Obubra, Ugeb and other major points in the old south Eastern and Rivers state.
In part three, he simply made a critique of My Command a book by General Obasanjo written in 1980 who took over the command of the 3CMD0 after Brigadier Adekunle six months to the end of the war.
Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra is his account of Nigeria-Biafra war, interspersed with his poetry from that period. During the years when Biafra attempted to break itself off as a separate state from Nigeria (1967-1970), Achebe served as an ambassador to Biafra. He travelled to different countries discussing the problems of his people especially the starving and slaughtering of Igbo children. As a Biafran political crusader, he said during a 1969 interview: “I can’t write a novel now; I couldn’t want to. And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. I can write poetry, something short, intense, more in keeping with my mood”
Three volumes of poetry emerged during this time, as well as a collection of short stories and children stories.
Achebe gives account of his personal experience about the civil war of 1967-1970. His There Was A Country, portrays his experiences at Government College, Umuahia, Nigeria’s premier University of Ibadan, his career in broadcasting, the story of how Things Fall Apart came to be written and almost not published, the story of Biafra which started with the first post– independence coup and then the second one, and then the massacre of Igbos, and then a total falling apart. He described in the work, the secession of Biafra and also a lament for Biafra and the decline of Nigeria which he relates directly to the Biafran war. He worked with the Biafran Government service throughout the war and was closely involved and widely known in the world.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie too published Half of a Yellow Sun decades after the same war and generated resonance with the reading public in refreshing memory about the tragic war. She wrote her novel because she grew up in the shadow of Biafra and wanted to engage with history in other to make sense of the present. Her parents’ stories formed the back bone of her research. Adichie tells her story primarily through the eyes and lives of Ugwu, a 13 year old peasant houseboy who survives conscription into the raggedly Biafran Army, and twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, who are from a wealthy and well connected family. Half of a Yellow Sun is a transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs, most notably its depiction of the impact of war’s brutalities on peasants and intellectuals alike. It’s a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing. Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun which won her the orange prize for fiction (2007) is a vivid Portrayal that brought home the brutal experiences of the Nigerian Civil War to a new generation of readers with fictional characters.
Ifeyinwa Ogbazi quoted Achebe thus:
it is clear to me that an African creative writer who tries to avoid the big social and political issues of contemporary African will end up being completely irrelevant. The African Writer cannot therefore be unaware of or indifferent to, the monumental injustice which his people suffer. (Journal .22)
Ogbazi supports thus: “any Nigerian Writer Specifically, who is worthy of recognition must of necessity, be interested in recreating and relieving the Nigerian civil war experience” (23).
Writers in their constant effort to interpret the past, they have used every possible tools especially works of creative literature which is one among the oldest tools.
Nigerian civil war has been especially enriched by numerous outstanding works of prose. More readers – Nigerian and the world have learned the story of Nigerian-Biafra, during the years of Nigerian Civil War from Achebe’s There Was A Country and Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun than from all other learned volumes of this period. In the present works, the authors/writers treated important epoch or period in Nigerian history in different aspects.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
A lot has been done on the subject “fact and fiction” in Nigeria war prose. However, little or nothing has been done by researchers to show the connection between Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun as war literature embodying facts and fictions. This research attempts to reflect this loophole by investigating or studying this topic “Facts and Fictions in Nigerian War Prose: Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of conducting this research is to study the aspects of facts and fiction in Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. Specifically the study seeks to expose to the readers and prose writers how a single story about a particular event can be approached by different writers in different directions or aspects; to point out war as the only connection between Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun; determine while Nigerian civil war narratives will continue to thrive; arouse the writers/readers interest so that they will do further reading about factual events and come up with their fictional stories.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This work will be of immense benefit especially to the upcoming prose writers. The result of the findings will help them appropriate facts and fictions in their artistic works. Prose writers through this work will become aware of the fact that a particular story about a particular event could be told by different writers in different dimensions or directions.
The audience after going through this research, will become better informed on the differences between facts and fictions. They will grapple with the fact that Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun are facts and fictions united by a common phenomenon called war.
Historians are not left out as this research will aid them in their efforts to recapture the moods and spirits of times far removed from their own.
The work will be approached by reading the selected texts and also reading other related scholarship; sourcing information from the library.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The work will be limited to facts and fictions in Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHORS
He was Nigerian novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, and writer of children’s literature. Born at Ogidi Eastern Nigerian in 1930. He attended secondary school at Government College, Umuahia and graduated from University College, Ibadan in 1953. He worked in Nigerian broadcasting from 1954 and was Director of External Broadcasting until 1967.
During Nigerian civil war (1967-1970) he was in Biafran government service. After the war, he taught in United States and Nigerian universities.
His indignation at European representations of Africans in fiction prompted him to write his first novel now a classic, Things Fall Apart (1958). Arrow of God (1964) revised in 1974, deals more extensively with similar themes, but No Longer at Ease (1960) and A Man of the People (1966) treat modern Nigerian urban and political problems satirically. He published The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories in 1962 and Girls at War and Other Stories in 1972, and children’s books, Chike and the River in 1966, How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972), The Flute and The Drum in (1977).
Achebe’s war experience is astringently expressed in Beware, Soul Brothers (1971; as Christmas in Biafra and other Poems in the U.S.A, 1972)
Some of his many lectures and essays appeared in Morning Yet on Creation Day: Essays (1975) and Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays (1988). He became founding editor of the African Writers Series for Heinemann Educational Books in 1962 and of Okike: An African Journal of New Writing in 1971. He has co-edited: The Insider: Stories of War and Peace from Nigeria (1971); Don’t Let Him Die (1978), a commemorative volume for his friend Christopher Okigbo; African Short Stories (1985); and Contemporary African Short Stories.
During Nigerian elections, he was elected deputy national president of the People’s Redemption Party and wrote a political statement The Trouble with Nigeria. Anthills of the Savannah (1987) is a novel about the failure of contemporary African politicians and intellectuals.
In 1999, Achebe was awarded the St. Louis Literary Award from the St. Louis University Library Associates. In June 2007, he was awarded the Man Booker International Prize. In 2010, he was awarded The Dorothy and Lilian Gish Prize for three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000), one of the richest prizes for the arts. Also in 2010, a collection of his auto-biographical essays were published under the title The Education of British- Protected Child.
In 11 October, 2012, his publishers, Penguin Books released There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra. Publication immediately caused a stir and re-opened the discussion about Nigerian civil war. It would prove to be the last publication during his life time.
Fondly called the “Father of African Literature,” he died after a short illness on 21 March, 2013 in Boston, United States.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Born in Abba, Anambra State in 1977, seven years after Nigerian civil war. She grew up on the campus of the university of Nigeria, Nsukka where her both parents worked. Her father was Nigeria’s first Professor of Statistics and her mother was the University’s first female registrar.
Chimamnda completed her secondary education at the university’s school, receiving several academic prizes. She began her tertiary education at the same University, studying Medicine and Pharmacy. While at Nsukka, she edited The Compass, a magazine for the catholic students of the medical school. Her first nineteen years spent in the campus environment have influenced her first two novels: Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun which draw richly on this setting as a back drop to the lives of the novel’s characters.
She is a winner of the Orange Prize and author of the bestselling Purple Hibiscus. Her award winning Half of a Yellow Sun is a vivid portrayal that brought home the brutal experiences of the Nigerian civil war to a new generation of readers.
After a year and a half at Nsukka, she won a scholarship and left for the United State where she attended Drexel University, Philadelphia. She then transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University, graduating summa cum laude (2001) with a degree in communications and political science. She went on to study at John Hopkins University (2003) and Yale University (2008). She was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University (2005-2006).
Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus was shortlisted for the Orange Price for Fiction in 2004 and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (2005). Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won her the Orange Price for Fiction (2007) and was made into a film in 2013.
Chimamanda divides her time between the United State and Nigeria, where she organizes annual creative writing workshop along with other writers to encourage up-coming authors.