The Fight to Preserve Cultural Identity in a Region on the Frontier of Development

Throughout the first few chapters of Half of a Yellow Sun, I have noticed that one of the most pervasive themes derived from the text is that of cultural preservation. Everyone has their own idea of home, and depending on the scale of their situation or conflict, often must fight for the survival or advancement of whatever they have unconsciously defined as their home. For example, in the face of biased Western educational viewpoints, Odenigbo tells Ugwu that in contrast to the answers the school expects from Ugwu, the truth is something far different: “They will teach you that a white man called Mungo Park discovered River Niger. That is rubbish. Our people fished in the Niger long before Mungo Park’s grandfather was born. But in your exam, write that it was Mungo Park” (14). The encroaching Western culture is an obvious threat to the retelling of the true history of the region, and Odenigbo is frustrated by this.

Another powerful example of characters’ attachment to home is shown when Ugwu “wished his whole village were here, so he could join in the moonlight conversations and quarrels and yet live in Master’s house with it running taps and refrigerator and stove” (117). Even though Odenigbo’s modern, comfortable house is fascinating and wonderful in Ugwu’s eyes, he cannot help but yearn for those he’s grown up knowing, those whom have given him so much in terms of development and relationships.