Half of a yellow sun première delayed by Nigerian censors

29th Apr 2014

Half of a yellow sun première delayed by Nigerian censors
Film version of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel could "stoke up ethnic tensions"

The première of Half of a Yellow Sun has been postponed by Nigerian officials, according to the film’s director Biyi Bandele.

In a tweet posted on Friday, Bandele revealed the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board have halted plans to screen the film, which was scheduled for release last Friday.

Set during the Nigerian Civil War of the late 1960s, Half of a Yellow Sun is the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s Orange Prize-winning novel of the same name. Focusing on the lives and loves of two sisters caught up in the conflict, during which 1 million people died, the book received widespread acclaim with Adichie going on to appear in New Yorker‘s top 20 writers under 40 in 2010. We also came up with at least 10 reasons to love her just last year.

Adichie's choice of subject matter remains controversial in the region But not everyone is as enthused as us, it seems. According to Aliyu Tanko of the BBC’s Hausa Service, Adichie’s choice of subject matter remains controversial in the region, and many fear the movie could “stoke up ethnic tensions” if shown.

The movie stars Crash‘s Thandie Newton and 12 Years a Slave lead Chiwetel Ejiofor, and hit the London Cinema Top 10 over Easter weekend.



  • Beulah Devaney says:

    Could it stir up ethnic tensions? There have been films about the Rwandan Genocide and that was far more recent than the Nigerian Civil War. Obviously those are two very different countries but this seems like such a strange reason to give for delaying but not cancelling the premiere. If those tensions were still so near the surface why not ban it completely?

    • Stephanie Gunner says:

      That’s what’s so strange about it, apparently the Censors Board have said there are “regulatory issues” but the film isn’t “officially banned”…I guess the situation in Nigeria must be very sensitive indeed for it still to be so controversial. According to Wikipedia a further 3 million died may have died as a result of the effects of changes to money and infrastructure in the wake of the war. It looks like resentment was bred and fostered by the policies the government adopted, which were seen as anti-Biafran. A decision regarding military persons who fought on the Biafran side was made by the Nigerian president in May 2000, so I guess the tension is ongoing. Strange not to ban the film outright though…