Olanna survives the long ordeal of traveling and she collapses outside Odenigbo’s door, both her legs and her bladder giving out. Baby finds her and then Odenigbo carries her inside and bathes her. Olanna tells him about what she saw, and that night she has her first “Dark Swoop,” a feeling like a blanket smothering her. The next day she finds that she cannot get out of bed. Dr. Patel says her ailment is psychological, and he starts giving her pills.
Olanna is traumatized, and her psychological reaction shows itself in physical ways. She still has the luxury of a safe place to go and access to a doctor, which many of the massacres’ victims don’t have.
Olanna’s parents and Kainene come to visit her, and Kainene cries for the first time since they were children. Olanna is moved that Kainene came, though she knows it doesn’t mean Kainene has forgiven her for their unnamed past quarrel. Weeks pass, and visitors come to talk to Olanna about the “evils of those Muslim Hausa” and the British academics who encouraged the massacres in Zaria.
We know that the sisters weren’t speaking to each other, but the enormity of the events now taking place in Nigeria seems to have made their quarrel seem less important. The massacres only sharpen the divide between Igbo and Hausa, with both sides demonizing the other – all encouraged by England.
One day Odenigbo is in the living room with some guests, and Olanna has to use the bathroom. Odenigbo and his companions are talking about the rumors that the Southeast will secede and become a new country. The Nigerian government still hasn’t addressed the massacres of the Igbo, so the country is sharply divided. Olanna decides not to interrupt the conversation and she suddenly finds she can walk. She goes to the bathroom and then gets back in bed.
It is something as mundane as having to use the bathroom that breaks the spell Olanna’s trauma held over her legs—even as the world spirals into chaos and death, mundane life itself goes on. The Nigerian government hasn’t condemned the massacres of the Igbo, so the Igbo can’t even feel safe within the laws of their own country.
Olanna listens to Odenigbo talk about Aburi, the Ghanaian town where Gowon and Colonel Ojukwu (now seen as the leader of the Igbo) had made a peace agreement. After the guests leave, Olanna tells Odenigbo that she walked, and he is deeply moved. He wants to go tell Dr. Patel, but she pulls him to her. They start to have sex, but then Olanna thinks about her dead, pregnant cousin Arize and she starts to cry.
The Aburi Accord was seen as the last chance to prevent secession. Gowon couldn’t guarantee Ojukwu’s safety anywhere in Nigeria, so they had to have their negotiation in Ghana. Olanna and Odenigbo’s happy romance has now been corrupted by the violent political situation.
Later Ugwu brings Olanna some food, and Odenigbo brings her a petition to sign – the university staff at Nsukka are demanding “secession as a means of security.” That same evening the secession is announced on the radio. Ojukwu speaks in his comforting voice and says that Eastern Nigeria is now its own nation, which will be called the Republic of Biafra.
The creation of Biafra is seen as a sign of new hope and optimism for the Igbo after their recent suffering. Their hope is that Biafra will become a place where they can feel secure and have a fresh start. But at the same time this hope is unrealistic, as Nigeria (and Britain) could never let all the oil in the Southeast slip out of their control.
Odenigbo says “this is our beginning,” and he starts to dance around the room with Baby. Olanna is shocked but happy. Soon afterward there is a rally in Freedom Square, and students and teachers sing and laugh together. Olanna feels suddenly overjoyed, like she has a real identity as a Biafran. People are giving away food for free, and some students bury a coffin with “Nigeria” written on it.
The mob mentality led to horrors like the massacres, but it is a similar mass hysteria that feeds the joy and patriotism in Biafra. The split between Biafra and Nigeria echoes the split between the two sisters, and fits with the theme of “betrayal,” though it is totally justified.
Odenigbo gives a speech and waves the Biafran flag, which is red, black, and green, with half of a yellow sun in the center. Odenigbo declares that Biafra will “lead Black Africa,” and everyone cheers. Olanna is happy that the same joy is running through everyone’s veins, making them all feel invincible.
Biafra seems like the summation of Odenigbo’s revolutionary dreams, something he can help influence to become an African country free from colonial oppression. The Biafran flag with its rising sun is here a symbol of great hope.