Thandie Newton is “bi-racial” and “not Igbo”

Zimbabwean-Brit actress Thandi Newton (credits: Crash, Mission Impossible ) choice as a female lead in the screen adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie's novel "Half of a Yellow Sun" has some people upset.

Still of Thandie Newton in "Good Deeds" (2012).

I’ve never been able to finish Chimamanda Adichie’s second novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun”–set during the Biafran War in the late 1960s– despite the fact that it won high praise from mainstream Western critics. See here, here and here. Anyway, by the time I might actually finish it, the film version will probably be in theaters. The Nigerian-British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (highlights: “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Inside Man”) has already agreed to star in the film adaptation, alongside Dominic Cooper (“Captain America”). This week Screen Daily reported that Zimbabwean-British actress Thandi Newton (credits: “Crash,” “Mission Impossible”) will be a female lead. Not everyone is happy with the choice of Newton as a female lead. There’s already an online petition to have Newton replaced with a Nigerian actress. Specifically, a darkerThe petition notes, among others, that “… Igbo people do not look like the bi-racial Thandie Newton.” You can read similar comments on posts about Newton’s casting at the popular film blog Shadow and Act here and here.

Btw, separate from casting issues, the previous credits of the two producers of “Half of a Yellow Sun” include “The Last King of Scotland” and “The Constant Gardener,” both films noted for their problematic treatments of African subjects. Ejiofor may change that. He has played Africans on screen before. In “Dirty Pretty Things” he was excellent as an African migrant caught up in the goings on at a seedy London hotel, while in the not-so-good “Red Dust” he played an activist appearing before South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He has also played Thabo Mbeki in the made-for-TV movie “Endgame.”

Further Reading

A city divided

Ethnic enclaves are not unusual in many cities and towns across Sudan, but in Port Sudan, this polarized structure instigated and facilitated communal violence.

The imperial forest

Gregg Mitman’s ‘Empire of Rubber’ is less a historical reading of Liberia than a history of America and racial capitalism through the lens of a US corporate giant.

Africa’s next great war

The international community’s limited attention span is laser-focused on jihadism in the Sahel and the imploding Horn of Africa. But interstate war is potentially brewing in the eastern DRC.

The Cape Colony

The campaign to separate South Africa’s Western Cape from the rest of the country is not only a symptom of white privilege, but also of the myth that the province is better run.

Between East Africa and the Gulf

Political encounters between the Arab Gulf and Africa span centuries. Mahmud Traouri’s novel ‘Maymuna’ demonstrates the significant role of a woman’s journey from East Africa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


It’s not common knowledge that there is Iran in Africa and there is Africa in Iran. But there are commonplace signs of this connection.

It could happen to us

Climate negotiations have repeatedly floundered on the unwillingness of rich countries, but let’s hope their own increasing vulnerability instills greater solidarity.