By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
At the drop of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s name a very unfortunate writer can get quite far in recognition.
Many literary wannabes want her blurb on their books. She has helped quite a number of aspiring writers to get literary agents and thus get published.
Chimamanda’s writing classes are always well-subscribed and her generosity of spirit is remarkable in a field where recluses reign.
It’s as though everybody wants a piece of Chimamanda.
I have got uncountable calls and messages from literally everywhere, home and abroad, urging me to make my views known on one writer who claims that Chimamanda plagiarized her book vide Half of a Yellow Sun.
Seriously, I have more serious things to do with my time than engaging in the trivial matter of what Mark Twain would have called “the royal non-such”.
At the very end of Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda diligently put down the list of all the books she read in her research toward the writing of Half of a Yellow Sun.
It is indeed curious that she is now being accused of copying one book that she did not put down in the list.
According to the accuser, Chimamanda must have copied the book in the British Library where the accusing writer submitted the book!
No, this is not a laughing matter, and I must stop laughing henceforth.
Smack on YouTube you can see the farce entitled: “How Chimamanda Stole my Work – Half of a Yellow Sun is a plagiarized copy of SADE by Anne Giwa-Amu.”
The narrator of the YouTube post introduces herself as the writer and solicitor Anne Giwa-Amu who wrote a book titled Sade.
According to Giwa-Amu, it was after seeing the film version of Half of a Yellow Sun (made by Biyi Bandele) that she became aware of the plagiarizing of her book by Chimamanda.
Giwa-Amu then makes staggering claims that Chinua Achebe collaborated with Chimamanda in the production of “the infringing work”
From what I can get from the cliché-ridden narration, Giwa-Amu wrote a manuscript initially titled “The Human Sacrifice” which made the rounds of publishing houses and only earned rejection slips until she decided to self-publish the book as Sade, to wit, using the protagonist’s name as the title.
Not many of my many book-reading friends have ever heard of this book, so having read it is totally out of the question.
It is thus incumbent on Giwa-Amu to supply the aspects of her work that found places in Chimamanda’s prize-winning world-beater Half of a Yellow Sun.
So what are the similarities between Sade and Half of a Yellow Sun that amounts to plagiarism as supplied by Giwa-Amu?
Giwa-Amu completely ruins her case as a “solicitor and writer” by providing very pathetic “evidences”.
How can the fact that Mama Emeka bathes Sade’s baby with Lux soap in Sade while Olanna receives some products including Lux soap in Half of a Yellow Sun amount to plagiarism?
That Olanna was played by a mixed-race lady in the film version is a different matter from the aboriginal Igbo woman in the book.
What plagiarism can one make out of a vase of hibiscus flowers being in the house in Sade while a vase of roses is at home in Half of a Yellow Sun?
If Sade takes siesta in Sade, does it make the taking of siesta by Odenigbo in Half of a Yellow Sun an act of plagiarism?
Plagiarism must be made of sterner stuff than a live band playing in Sade while a live band also plays in Half of a Yellow Sun.
So because her characters sing songs in her book, Giwa-Amu believes that any other writer that gets his or her characters to also sing songs must have copied her work!
According to Giwa-Amu, “in my book the houseboy answers sah and in her book the houseboy answers sah.”
It even gets worse when Giwa-Amu’s idea of plagiarism is her “revelation” that Emeka has a Mercedes Benz in Sade while Mohammed has a sports car in Half of a Yellow Sun!
Now, enough of the nonsense! There ought to be better ways of seeking attention.
A literary wannabe wants to steal from the Chimamanda brand and ends up thoroughly messing up her selfhood.
*** Uzor Maxim Uzoatu is the author of God of Poetry, Satan’s Story, A Play of Ghosts and The Missing Link. A 2008 Caine Prize for African Writing nominee, he wrote the text for Scottish photographer Owen Logan’s caricature of Michael Jackson’s visit to Nigeria entitled Masquerade. He lives in Lagos and is married with children.