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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.















Title page                                                                                                                                i

Approval Page                                                                                                                        ii

Certification Page                                                                                                                   iii

Dedication                                                                                                                              iv

Acknowledgement                                                                                                                  v

Abstract                                                                                                                                  vi

Table of Contents                                                                                                                   vii


Background to the Study                                                                                                       1

Statement of Problem                                                                                                                         8

Purpose of the Study                                                                                                              8

Significance of the Study                                                                                                       8

Methodology                                                                                                                          9

Scope of the Study                                                                                                                 9

Biography of the Authors                                                                                                       10

Chinua Achebe                                                                                                                       10

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche                                                                                                   12


CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED SCHOLARSHIP                                                           

Prose                                                                                                                                       14

Fiction                                                                                                                                     16

Non-Fiction/Fact                                                                                                                     19

Memoir                                                                                                                                    20

Faction                                                                                                                                    21

Autobiography                                                                                                                        22


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


Conclusion                                                                                                                              40

Works Cited                                                                                                                            42





“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 histo


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