Half of a Yellow Sun | Study Guide

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Half of a Yellow Sun | Part 2, Chapter 9 : The Late Sixties | Summary

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Summary

Richard and Kainene attend a party at her parents' house with "many Big Men of the new regime." They have returned from abroad and set about making new business contacts. Kainene's mother tells Richard they may be leaving the country again soon, and hints that she would like Richard to leave her daughter alone. Richard finds Kainene and Major Madu Madu talking. Richard expresses his belief there will be another coup, and Madu disagrees. The second coup happens a week later. Northern officers take over the government and begin killing Igbo officers in Kaduna. Richard feels vindicated he was right and Madu was wrong, but Kainene is worried for Madu's safety, since he is stationed in Kaduna. Richard stays in Port Harcourt with the distraught Kainene. She soon learns Madu's friend, Colonel Udodi Ekechi, was killed after "Northern soldiers ... fed him his own shit ... and tied him to an iron cross."

Two weeks later Madu shows up at Kainene's house, shaken and emaciated. He tells Kainene his friend Ibrahim, a Muslim officer who he had met at Sandhurst, saved his life by arranging for him to hide in his cousin's chicken coop. Madu escapes from the coop dressed in Muslim clothes and survives the journey back to Umunnachi by hiding in a water tank on the back of a truck. Northern soldiers are conducting searches and summarily executing all Igbo men in the military. Madu says the problem is the military's "ethnic balance policy," of promoting unqualified Northerners, which caused unrest between the troops.

Analysis

Rather than being distraught at the loss of life, Richard is pleased that he, an outsider, correctly predicts the second coup, while Madu, an insider, denies its possibility. He views Madu as a rival for Kainene's affections, but softens when he realizes Madu is in grave danger. Even though he dislikes Udodi, he is sobered by the news of his death. Despite this, Richard remains a spectator, with plans to visit England for his cousin's wedding.

Madu had to endure this harrowing experience because he is Igbo. In a postcolonial Nigeria, the tribes, which did not traditionally cooperate with one other, resort to violence to work out their differences. This conflict finds pronounced expression in the military, which is comprised of men from various tribes. Because Madu, an Igbo, and Ibrahim, a Hausa, were both trained in Britain, they have a personal loyalty to one another that spans tribal differences. This loyalty born of privilege saves Madu's life. Udodi is not so lucky, and the violent and humiliating circumstances of his death foretell the savagery to come.

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