by Sarah Ladipo Manyika
It is 1963 and nineteen-year-old Tayo Ajayi is the first Nigerian to win a scholarship to Oxford University. On his arrival at Oxford Tayo, a scared, na´ve (but very excited) young black man is overwhelmed by the cultural and social differences - and the cold weather! He launches himself into academic life, joining societies, debating politics and philosophy, and is swept along in the great tide of change that, not only Oxford but also the whole world is experiencing. Then Tayo meets Vanessa, the beautiful, intelligent daughter of an ex-colonial officer and they fall in love.
Back home in the newly independent Nigeria things are increasingly unsettled. The creation of the First Republic has given the country its first black president but tribal differences and corruption within the government mean that civil war is not far off. Tayo uncomfortably observes the instability in his homeland from afar while his relationship with Vanessa becomes equally turbulent. When his father is taken ill Tayo makes the decision to go back to Africa promising Vanessa that he will return for her. But the political situation worsens and Tayo finds himself trapped. Undaunted, Vanessa travels to Nigeria to be with him only to be confronted with a revelation that will change everything.
IN DEPENDENCE is an ambitious debut novel, crossing and re-crossing continents and spanning four decades. It brims with great characters, and a great sense of time and place. More than a love story, it is a sharp and thoughtful exploration of inter-racial relationships, and a perceptive look at the chaotic and complex history of modern Nigeria.