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Power Dynamics And Their Influence On Morality

John F. Kennedy, one of America’s greatest leaders, said, “We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last.” This quote highlights how influential power in a society is perceived and both the benefits and pitfalls that it presents to the people in a community. In the book ‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ the issues that arise due to the abuse and misuse of power are heavily featured in the story of Biafra following Nigeria’s independence from the United Kingdom. The abuse of power affects the nation of Biafra, and its people are exposed to poverty and tyrannical rule from their self-serving secession leaders. The evils that come with misuse of power are so devastating and widespread that they affect the daily lives of everyday people, encourage mass poverty, and erode the moral fabric of society.

The misuse of power, as evidenced in Half of a Yellow Sun, affects the lives of people by creating harsh conditions in society, which makes their lives complicated, difficult, and full of struggles. Having power corrupts the leaders of Biafra, and they become selfless instead of serving the people, as Ugwu noted, out” (Adichie 124). These leaders of Biafra are culprits of power abuse by using their political powers to influence civil wars and dictatorship regimes. Civil wars in the book ‘Half of a Yellow Sun cause poverty in Biafra and influence suffering from the people who are forced to live in harsh environments (Adichie 143). The life of Ugwu, a village boy, and help to Odenigbo by being forced to join the Biafran Army. On the other hand, Odenigbo, a Professor of Mathematics, is forced to vacate his position due to the civil war and becomes a member of the Manpower Directorate.

Most of the villages in Biafra were affected by poverty due to the lack of economic activities and the forced allegiance to the army and rebel groups in the country. Civil wars in Biafra created harsh living conditions due to the constant fighting that took place and the forceful recruitment of soldiers within the society, including underage children (Adichie 96). Young adults in Biafra were forced to fight in the civil wars to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and water. Poverty features most in power abuse since those with power use their influence to create wealth for themselves at the expense of others in society. The prominent and affluent in Biafra used the ability to influence their demands upon the less privileged to provide them with favours such as contracts. Olanna’s father promises Chief Okonji an affair with Olanna in exchange for a commitment, highlighting the loose morals that existed in the power-corrupted nation (Adichie 32-5).

Families run from their homes upon hearing gun sounds to search for a place to lie, thus saving their lives. At Biafra, pregnant women are cut open during childbirth, leading to the death of many mothers and orphaned children. The sound of guns and images of the massacre are in many children’s brains, making them grow with fear. Greedy and power-hungry leaders in Biafra use weapons to gain what they want, making villages inhabitable. Hunger for power makes innocent citizens suffer and causes a country a drastic fall in its economy. Biafra massacre gave rise to many refugees and empty villages, and people like Alabueze lost all their children (Adichie 110). People flee from their communities caring for their children, clothes, and goat. As a result of the war, many Biafra military troops are dead, and their bodies float in Niger River others leave the army. A soldier says that the British are giving more weapons to Nigeria, showing that the death rate will continue to rise. Planes in the country are from Russia, and an Egyptian is assigned a job in the plan as a pilot (Adichie 150). Newborn babies are killed for being born Igbo. Leaders taking over power in Biafra see it as a victory despite the death of so many citizens. Leaders take away Biafra people’s right to acquire properties and live peacefully as people move to refugee camps while others hide in the forests. Selfish leaders value their interests and will do anything to attain their goals and objectives in life, as shown by Adichie. Powers-hungry leaders lack conscience as they contribute to the killing of toddlers in Biafra. The war led to a decline in the value of Biafra currency and inflation, as civilians could purchase so little with a lot of money.

These conditions of war and power misuse encourage dictatorship whereby the top leadership engages in the abuse of human rights to further their agenda and amass wealth from their countries. Similarly, in Biafra, the leaders are involved in acts of corruption, embezzlement, and human rights violations to gain wealth and plunge the nation into war to further their agenda. Injustices that are highlighted include the denial of humanitarian aid to the people of Biafra, which led to the deaths and starvation of many civilians during the civil war (Adichie 28). Furthermore, the war made even friends such as Mbaezi and Abdulmalik become enemies since Abdulmalik joined the rebels and was involved in massacring Mbaezi’s family (Adichie, 147-8). Poverty in Biafra was critical because they required humanitarian aid, and even that was given partially depending on the circumstances of the war and the decisions made by the top leadership.

In closing, many injustices that arise from the misuse of power create devastating effects on the lives of people by encouraging poverty and eroding the moral fabric of society. Moral values are abandoned and give way to immorality because the leaders who feel they can do anything they please misuse their power. People in the community become selfish and protect their self-interests without consideration of how others are affected. Additionally, those with power use all necessary means, including corruption, wars, embezzlements, and extortion, among others, to gain wealth while exploiting the poor and less fortunate. With power comes a lot of responsibility, and Half of a Yellow Sun provides the appropriate lessons on the effects of power.

Work Cited

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Half of a yellow sun. Alfred a Knopf Incorporated, 2006.



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