What You Didn’t Learn in History Class

On page 139 of Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, Miss Adebayo makes reference to French testing atomic weapons in Algeria. It turns out that, in the time frame that Miss Adebayo was speak, the French government would have already tested up to four atomic weapons on Algerian soil, the first of which was named Gerboise Bleue, and had a blast capacity more than four times that of the atomic weapon the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during WWII. During this time, Algeria would have been approaching the end of its War for Independence, but France continued to test atomic weapons even after the end of the war in 1962 in underground testing sites. After they had finished testing in Algeria, they stored much of the metal, equipment, and building material from their test sights underground by storing it under sand, but as the sand eroded away, people have used that radioactive material to make crafts and even repair or add to their home. Estimates range from 27,000 to 60,000 people negatively affected by radiation exposure to date. France was not the only country to test Nuclear Weapons during this exact same time – many others, including the United States tested atomic weapons, often with negative consequences due to negligence.