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Portrayal of The Civil War Horrors in Nigeria in Tears of The Sun, a Movie by Antoine Fuqua

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Tears of the Sun, a movie released in 2003, tells the story of a team of Navy SEALs and their lieutenant as they venture on a mission to extract a US doctor, a mission priest and nuns. The movie is based on true events that occurred in the late 1960s, during the Nigerian Civil War. The movie shows how the military and the rebels continue to create problems for the Navy SEALs. The movie takes place in the Nigerian jungle, because the US military must extract the US doctor and get to safety.

The Nigerian Civil War, also called the Biafran War, was a war that was fought in order to counter the secession of Biafra from Nigeria. It consisted of two groups who were primarily fighting against one another; the first were the Igbo people in eastern Nigeria, while the people they were fighting against was the Federal Government of Nigeria. In a scholarly journal, written by Falode Adewunmi James, it says that the Federal Government fought the war to maintain the corporate existence of Nigeria, while the Igbos harping on the principles of self-determination, were basically interested in creating an independent state called ‘Biafra’ carved out of Nigeria . When it comes to self-determination, the Igbo people wanted to determine their own statehood and form their own allegiances and government. This specific civil war showed the struggle between the people of the country and the government; it was a struggle between the greater powers.

With the way that the civil war was in Nigeria, it was a battle for independence and nationhood for The Republic of Biafra. The Republic of Biafra was composed of several states of Nigeria, and it was formed because the Igbo people were forced to flee to the east after massacres were erupting between the Muslims and Christians in northern Nigeria. The Republic of Biafra was all about building a nation and establishing their own freedom and government, while Nigeria wanted to take down the Republic and bring all of the Nigerian states together. During that time, Nigeria was known as a heterogenous country, which means that its countries did not all come together and were separated, due to abundance of different tribes and cultures. The Federal Government of Nigeria wanted to make Nigeria a homogenous country, purely for the purpose of the economic resources. The different people and tribes throughout Nigeria felt that their opinions and beliefs were not being respected, because they each had their own administration set up, and that the only thing they had in common was that they had the same country name. This created a rift between the people of Nigeria and the Federal Government of Nigeria, and that is when they decided to break into The Republic of Biafra.

The main cause of the war was because the Nigerian government did not respect the different administrations that were set up in northern and southern Nigeria, and how they were different from one another. In an academic journal, written by Brian McNeil, the text says that the British colonial system was based on “so much inequality and injustice” that the civil war was bound to happen . The Nigerians wanted to find a way to balance the administrations and bring a form of peace and stability amongst the country. The people took matters into their own hands, formed The Republic of Biafra and declared themselves an independent state. The Federal Government of Nigeria saw that as secession and that was illegal, so they had to make The Republic of Biafra surrender to the Federal Government of Nigeria, even if it meant by force.

The war started on July 2, 1967 and ended on January 15, 1970. During this time, a lot of battles were fought, blood was shed and there was still no compromise that the two groups were able to meet on. The war was fought to reunify the country, but ended up causing more problems between the government and the Igbo people.

Even before the Nigerian Civil War happened, Nigeria had been facing many issues that related to political leaders trying to unify all of Nigeria and the different people. This can date all the way back to the 1920s. In an article written by a US Marine, the text says the Governor General of Nigeria between 1920-31 , Sir Hugh Clifford, described Nigeria as “a collection of independent Native States, separated from one another by great distances, by differences of history and traditions and by ethnological, racial, tribal, political, social and religious barriers.” Seeing what the past governor said about Nigeria, and with the events leading to the Nigerian Civil War, the reader can see how hard it was to unify the country and the different states. Also, by the political leaders strongly focusing on the resources for economic interests, they stray away from all of the other factors to help unify the country, such as different cultures, different lifestyles, etc.

To tie this to the movie, Tears of the Sun, the movie shows the struggle and conflicts that arise between the US and the rebels. The rebels are angry with the refugees for not siding with them against the Federal Government of Nigeria, that they will kill anyone who does not join them. Also, the Nigerians already do not have respect for the Americans, because they are always trying to interfere with their problems, so when they discover that the Americans are in Nigeria and helping the refugees, they feel that they need to handle the situation so that the refugees do not turn to anyone else except the guerilla rebels. The rebels want to show that they are strong and they can handle themselves, so they destroy everything that is related to the Nigerian government so that they can rebuild it in their own eyes.

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Portrayal of the Civil War Horrors in Nigeria in Tears of the Sun, a Movie by Antoine Fuqua. (2019, January 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from
“Portrayal of the Civil War Horrors in Nigeria in Tears of the Sun, a Movie by Antoine Fuqua.” GradesFixer, 28 Jan. 2019,
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