The SS Mendi, a former mail ship requisitioned as a troop carrier, had sailed from Capetown with more than 800 African volunteers, some as young as 16, most seeing the sea for the first time. It also carried five white officers, 17 non-commissioned officers, and a crew of 33. The men had volunteered to join the South African Native Labour Corps. They were not trusted to bear arms - another bitter point - but were instead destined to work as labourers.

Normally, it is impossible to determine the true owner of such companies. But our document reveals that in December 2003, Friedhelm Eronat personally owned Cliveden Sudan. Channel 4 News has obtained confidential photographs, taken by African Union monitors last July in Suleia, a village just to the north of Block C. The following month I went to other nearby burned villages. In them, I met people still on the run from Suleia. They said they had been bombed by government planes. Some had then been shackled and burned alive, many shot dead; others wounded; women, raped. Suleia is 180km from Block C's first well. Cliveden Sudan insisted to us that the 'wells' are 1000km from the conflict zone.

Mr Eronat, who is reputed to be worth £100m, has made a fortune out of oil deals, mainly through his offshore Cliveden Group. He was accused by Global Witness last year of being the owner of a Swiss company allegedly used as a conduit to pass millions of dollars from Mobil Oil to the president of Kazakhstan. A trial is pending in the US of a banker involved in those transactions. Mr Eronat was not charged with any offence.

Half of a Yellow Sun - Adichie's second novel - is her homage to "the tiny debris of passionate courage", her fellow Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe's phrase for the Biafran victims of the 1967-1970 Nigerian civil war. Born seven years after it ended, she lost both her grandfathers among the many thousands of civilian dead. Achebe himself has joined a chorus of praise for the novel, calling Adichie "a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers".

José Eduardo Agualusa, who was born in Angola and now splits his time between Lisbon and Luanda, is the author of six novels as well as a couple of volumes of investigative reporting. The first African to win the prize, he beat a strong field; the shortlist included The Story of Blanche and Marie by Per Olov Enquist, Your Face Tomorrow 2: Dance and Dream by Javier Marías and Shyness and Dignity by Dag Solstad.

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