The screen adaptation of Chimamanda’s “Half of a Yellow Sun” yet again lends credence to the ingenuity (and commercialism) of Nigerian literature. The novel which won the orange prize for fiction in 2006 is being backed by the British film institute for a screen adaptation which would begin shot in Nigeria in March.
The novel which is set during the Nigerian-Biafra war of 1967-1970, tells the story of 2 sisters Olanna and Kainene and explores the dynamic relationship of the lives of four people-a Professor, a High ranking Political Figure, a British Citizen and a Young House Boy- each affected by the war.
The civil war lasted three and half years, and it is estimated that about 3million lives (mostly Igbo) were lost due to malnutrition and starvation.
The novel is a Pan-Nigerian project which for once, tells the story of Nigeria from a Nigerian’s perspective. It is also coming on the heels of the death of former Igbo leader and Biafran warlord Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dominic Cooper and Thandie Newton have been chosen to star in the film, which is backed by UK Producers Andrea Calderwood and Gail Egan. Nigerian playwright and director Biyi Bandele would direct the movie.
However, the cast selection has thrown up rancour within certain circles in Nigeria. Some pundits have questioned the selection of actors, especially Thandie Newton, a British actor of Zambian origin, on how she would cope with the Igbo language in the script which many feel would be better interpreted by a Nigerian (Igbo) actress. There have also been complaints about the exclusion of prominent Nollywood actors from the film, who saw it as a step towards gaining Hollywood acceptance.
The author Chimamanda Adichie is a prolific writer who has won several laurels in literature. Her book, Purple Hibiscus won the Commonwealth Short Story prize in 2004. Her latest novel ‘The Thing Around your neck’ is in stores globally.