Title: In Dependence
Author: Sarah Ladipo Manyika
Publisher: Cassava Republic
Number of Pages: 257
Year Of Publication 2008
Tayo Ajayi, a Nigerian man who receives a scholarship to study at Oxford in the 1960s, and Vanessa Richardson, the daughter of an ex-colonial officer, are the main characters of In Dependence.
While it is a love story that stretches from 1963 to 1998, it is much more than that. It’s also a story about Nigeria, its independence, and the changes that occur in the country after independence – the Biafran war, the first coup and the numerous countercoups, military dictatorships, a brief return to civilian rule, exile of Nigerians, and the eventual return to democracy near the end of the book.
There are also concerns of race, racism, and cultural disparities to contend with. We see Tayo, Vanessa, and a host of other characters go through all these issues.
Manyika takes us into her magnificent universe, set in the 1960s and spanning three continents. Tayo, the main character, had entrusted her with this universe. Tayo Ajayi, a talented back-street Ibadan child, gained a scholarship to Oxford University to study history, where he met and fell in love with Vanessa Richardson, an aspiring African writer and the daughter of a high-handed ex-colonial officer.
Mariam, Tayo’s side chic, interrupted their burgeoning cross-racial affair just as they were about to settle down for some “love show.”
Tayo is a bright man, yet he always appears to make mistakes. He strives to do the right thing and never wants to harm anyone, but he does in the end, especially the ladies in his life – and he hurts quite a few of them. Vanessa, on the other hand, aspires to be a writer covering African topics, to marry Tayo, and to move to Nigeria with him to start a new life. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, and a variety of factors prohibit her from realizing most of her ambitions. She achieves one of her ambitions, becoming a world-renowned journalist covering African topics. Tayo and Vanessa end up living separate lives, yet no matter what they do or where they go, they never forget one other.
In dependence is an epic realism. Real characters like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Leopold Senghor (the first president of independent Senegal), President Shagari and our own ‘dear’ General Buhari popped up every now and then. Praise worthy is Sarah Manyika’s deftness in fusing fiction and realism into a balanced whole. Her sheer ability to condense erstwhile complex thoughts into bite-sized morsels for easy pickings is also worthy of mention.