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Author Chimamanda Adichie On Adaptation Of “Half Of A Yellow Sun”: “I’m Not At All Involved In The Production”

Author Chimamanda Adichie On Adaptation Of "Half Of A Yellow Sun": "I'm Not At All Involved In The Production"

I know Tambay has been pursuing an interview with Chimamanda Adichie to talk about the controversy surrounding the casting of the film (I’m talking about Thandie Newton) that will be based on her book, but hasn’t been able to lock one down he tells me. So I thought I would share this piece from an interview she just did with the which tells us something about her involvement in the film.

The most interesting part is this: Congratulations on learning that your award winning novel, Half of A Yellow Sun, will soon be adapted into a film; how do you about this feat?

Chimamanda Adichie: I generally prefer books to films but of course films have a much wider audience and I’m pleased at the prospect of a much wider audience for this story. A lot of big names in the international acting profession like Chiwetel Ejiofor and others are linked to the project, how involved will you be with the production?

Chimamanda Adichie: I am not at all involved with the production. The director Biyi Bandele is a person whose work I respect and admire. The book is mine; the film is his. I am sure that my characters and story will be treated with nuance and dignity in his hands. How does knowing the fact that Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is from your part of Nigeria, is part of the cast. Does this have a kind of relief that someone that is not too far from the soils on which Biafra happened will be in the film?

Chimamanda Adichie: I am a fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s work because he brings a wonderful humanity and complexity to his roles. And of course I am particularly proud that he is Igbo.

So what do we learn from this? The most important thing to note is that she is not at all involved in the production of the film. So she had no input on the casting of Thandie Newton as an Igbo woman which was the cause of so much debate on Shadow And Act 2 weeks ago.

It’s interesting though that the interviewer didn’t question Chimamanda about Thandie Newton’s casting and only focused on Chiwetel’s casting. Surely they must all be aware of the backlash Thandie’s casting created. So I wonder if it’s something that she won’t talk about because she’s put it all on Biyi Bandele’s shoulders to carry. 

But to ask a question so specific about having Chiwetel being Igbo and the relief and pride she must feel knowing that an Igbo actor has been cast in the film, and not ask about the other key actor(s) who have been cast, especially one that has caused a bit of controversy, seems odd to me. 

I understand Ashley Akunna, who created the petition to remove Thandie from the casting will be on the Shadow And Act podcast later this afternoon and I will be listening to hear what she has to say. I checked the petition website and so far it has 490 signatures which is far shy of the 300,000 she’s trying to get.

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Ashley Akunna is a misguided minion of Nikyatu Jusu. This petition is ridiculous. Igbo women come in all shades.

Bani Productions

While the story of Biafra is one that needs to be told, I am fatigued by foreigners being so interested in an "African-nation-at-war story.
If any book could have been chosen for adaptation from her list, I would have preferred Purple Hibiscus. But no, we need another reason to hold a concert to collect cents for Nigeria or escalate some the status of our local security. Me, I tire.


I think what is even sadder about this is to learn that the director is a Nigerian man… How can he do this to his own women? His own people? The self hatred in our community is really sick. Really sick and really strong. And I bet he does not even know that what he is doing is wrong. So many Nigerian children grow up in homes with mothers that bleach their skin. From a young age they are taught that dark skin on a young woman is ugly.


There won't be any true push to get Thandie out of that film because in the end the black community (and, yes, that includes black female moviegoers) is more than comfortable with their leading ladies looking like her. Me, personally, I love Thandie but it seems as if she has the wrong "look" for this part based upon all I've read.


This is a picture of Chiwetel:

This is a picture of Thandie:

Thandie is just one shade lighter.

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