Adichie ends her author’s note to Half of a Yellow Sun with the phrase “May We Always Remember” because of the novel’s ability to testify to the horrific events of the Biafran War, the result of distrust between Nigeria’s four major ethnic groups after a series of violent upheavals in the government. Though Half of a Yellow Sun does not have the same aim as a textbook--to tell the facts, and only the facts--it attempts to capture the emotions of ordinary Nigerians during the war, and therefore, show the necessity of preventing another episode of violence that would devastate other families.
The fact that you’re reading Half of a Yellow Sun attests to its power to memorialize an event that may otherwise have been forgotten. Whether you’re near to Nigeria or are studying the country from the distance of thousands of miles, you’re contributing to Adichie’s mission by analyzing the events and emotions of almost half a century ago. Adichie, a hugely famous and critically acclaimed author, has an audience of millions (and now, plus your classroom!).
However, the call to action “May We Always Remember” was once used after the Holocaust to show the world’s dedication to preventing genocide, yet we have largely watched as numerous other genocides have been perpetrated. Some experts say that 37 genocides (the deliberate destruction of an entire cultural, ethnic, racial, or religious group) have occurred since the end of WWII--a staggering number that shows that while we pledge to remember, we fail to act time and time again.