Black History Month Book Series: Half of a Yellow Sun

The first book to be featured on the Black History Month Book Series is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun!

About the author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian born author whose work ranges from nonfiction, novels, short stories, and lectures. One of Adichie’s most notable lectures is her TedTalk, The Danger of a Single Story, where she warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding about the world around us. Adichie’s work is heavily inspired by Nigerian’s colonial history and tragedies, which is all too forgotten or may be completely unknown to recent generations. Whether you are just being introduced to Adichie’s work, or you are a long-time reader, Adichie is undoubtedly one of the most prolific authors of our generation who amplifies the voice of those living in the Black diaspora.

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun — which takes its name from the symbol on Biafra’s flag, is a novel written about hope, promise, and disappointment of one of the most seminal times in Nigerian history: the Biafran War, which saw Biafra fight to establish its own national sovereign state in West Africa in the late 1960s.

We experience this gripping tale through the lives of five characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old house boy from a small village in Nigeria who lives and works with university professor Odenigbo, a revolutionary who passionately believes in the independent republic of Biafra; Olanna, Odenigbo’s young partner who has abandoned her life of Lagos elites for the town of Nsukka to become a teacher; and Richard, an English man who flocked to Nigeria on a count of his love for Igbo art, and his love for Olanna’s stoic twin sister, Kainene.

The book jumps to different timelines detailing the character’s lives before the Nigeria Civil War and extending until its end in 1970. Readers gain insight into the events that led up to the war including growing ethnic tensions towards the Igbo peoples. As the characters weave their way through the growing conflict, Adichie effortlessly explores themes of moral responsibility, the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race.

Half of a Yellow Sun brilliantly embodies the promise of a new way of life and the devastating violence that leads to heartbreaking disappointments that marked this time period. Through this novel Adichie gifts us one of the most powerful, and emotionally-charged pieces of contemporary African literature that the world of literature desperately needed.

It is through the power of stories that we can learn about the lived experiences of the culturally rich Black diaspora. Through the month of February, SAMRU will be celebrating Black History Month with a variety of programs from panels and discussion, to celebrating the stories told through Black film.

Interested in more stories told through the lens of talented Black artists? You won’t want to miss the third annual, Black History Month Film Festival!

Black History Month Film Festival

Streaming Platforms: National Film Board (NFB) and Hoovie

The Mount Royal University community and the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) are proud to present the third annual Black History Month Film Festival with a virtual twist. The Festival will feature works by BIPOC filmmakers from across the globe. As well, we look forward to connecting authentically with pre and post-film conversations. Free admission (please reserve tickets ahead of the screening). Please email dreid978@mtroyal.ca if you have any questions. 

Click here to find the official movie poster for the Black History Month Film Festival.

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