Ndi Igbo worldwide are up in arms.
The Half of a Yellow Sun book by nwa ada Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie has been optioned for a Hollywood film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as ‘Odenigbo’, Thandie Newton as ‘Olanna’ and Dominic Cooper as ‘Richard’. Now, this is good news. How many Nigerian books have made it into Hollywood after all?
But are Igbo people happy? Like heck.
The chief complaint stems from the fact that Thandie Newton is not the right colouring. At first I must admit, I followed to say, because I think Olanna is more Egovin than Thandie, even if the photo above is trying to deceive me. Then it was that she was too skinny, which I didn’t worry about because after all they’ll just give her agidi and that will be that. But then I realised, hang on, my gripe with Thandie lies in the fact that she is boring. She had to be raped by a white police officer in Crash to get an oscar nod (Don’t even get me started on Monster’s Ball with Halle Berry). Olanna is gentle, yes, but she is also strong; ajebo but very Igbo. Can Thandie do her justice?
Let’s not go on about the fact that Ala Igbo will not even smell the cast and crew or the money that comes with them. The closest they’ll come to an Igbotic community would be Kikuyuland in Kenya. I know we’re always so afraid to talk about these things but how come the main actors are not Igbo? Do you know how much the Harry Potter films put British actors on the map? It was because JK Rowling insisted on it. Did Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie try? Or did she just take the money and run? We’ll never know. But we are stuck with Thandie, bless her.
Now on to our brother, Chiwetel and his accent. The twitter wars zoomed in (via @elnathan) on the fact that as a Nigerian, he couldn’t even pull off a Nigerian accent in Dirty Pretty Things, preferring instead to do a generic African one. So how will he manage an Igbo one? Igbo accents are very distinct even with people that speak English very well. I’m not saying that I do but there is nothing I like more than peppering my language with ‘Gini dis’ and ‘Hias’ and Kpokopus’. Brits speak with their accent where it’s called for in films, so do Spaniards, the French…and Djimon Hounsou, don’t get me started. (In fact, Djimon will probably do a better Odenigbo because that accent is tiiiiiick like akamu. Too bad it’s a franco one). So how come that when it comes to doing an Igbo one we getu notin? Let me not jump the gun anyway. Maybe Chiwetel will do a good one and Thandie will copy him and everything will be fine.
There was also some noise about Chiwetel’s apperance and whether he’ll do a convincing Odenigbo since the character is pretty rough-looking. But Chiwetel already had that scar on his face. All he needs is to grow the beard.
All this pales in comparison when you realise that they will get to have sex on screen. Chiwetel is like someone we all grew up with; that neighbour that moved in with his parents when he was about to go off to university so you never really got to talk to him because he was one of the bigger boys but you fancied him from afar and couldn’t say anything because he also had a sister that was your age mate and you got close to her so that you could always have an excuse to come to their house where her brother could maybe accidentally see you in that show belle top that you bought with your mother’s market-money change and you lied to her that it was money that your uncle gave you and she took the shirt and seized it and you took one of your t-shirts and cut it into a show belle top and went over to your neighbour’s house and it turned out that her brother had gone off to the university campus that same day – blah, blah, blah, you get the picture.
Knowing all this, do we want to see Chiwetel and Thandie have sex on screen? Let’s consider the two positions (unintended but it stays):
- Thandie is not you (Ewww, I know, you get to watch your neighbour do it with someone else. Wait. How dare it not be you?)
- They worked together on 2012 so it might not be that bad. They’ve already kissed, right?
Before you get to choose, I suggest you read the book again. Odenigbo is a bearded Igbo academic. If that doesn’t spell ‘Testosterone’, I don’t know what does. You just know the sex was BEASTLY (watch any of Sir David Attenborough’s predator-prey nature programmes for examples).
Now, do you REALLY want to see Chiwetel have beastly bearded Igbo sex with Thandie on screen?
I rest my case.
Igbo ekelee m unu o.