Seattle International Film Festival highlights film on Nigeria’s 1960s civil war

How did Nigeria get so screwed up? Some will blame colonialism, or its lasting harmful legacies; others will blame the ‘resource curse’ of oil. Others will want to point at the epidemic of bad governance throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa (which often then gets us back to the legacy of colonialism and/or foreign corporate complicity in fueling bad governance…).

One big driver of Nigeria’s difficulties is the split between north and south. Why did it take international pressure to get Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan to even speak out (two weeks after the fact) on the abduction of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in the north? One answer is that Jonathan is from the south and, frankly, could care less about the north.

Are you old enough to remember what the word Biafra means? It refers to an attempt by the Igbo tribe in Nigeria to become independent of the rest of the country, and specifically to have nothing to do with the northern Hausa tribe. The creation of the Republic of Biafra launched a vicious civil conflict that lasted from 1967 to 1970.

The 2006 novel Half of  a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells the story of this turmoil, and the Seattle International Film Festival is showing the movie based on the book tonight, 6 pm, at the Egyptian Theatre. One of the lead actors, Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, Amistad), will be there and honored for his work.


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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.