Chapters Summary of “IN DEPENDENCE” By Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Completel Chapter By Chapter Summary Of Independence By Sarah Ladipo
Mayinka JAMB Recommended Book For UTME

Chapter One
In chapter one, the story begins with preparations for Tayo’s imminent journey from Ibadan,
Nigeria to England to take up a scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford; a scholarship which
was in the past exclusively reserved for the whites, such that Tayo is the first Nigerian to win
this kind of scholarship. Tayo and his father are in high spirits as a result of this scholarship
which on-wishers described thus:
‘’Na special scholarship dey don make for de boy…’’ (page 8)
He is very glad that he is travelling away from home and strongly hopes for the best in the whiteman’s
land. This is revealed by the narrator thus:
Pg 10: …”he had been looking forward to travelling far away from home- to having
his freedom…”
After him, his parents and siblings had finished greeting relatives in Ibadan, they move to
Lagos and also visit their relatives in Lagos. This kind of greeting is customary in Yoruba
culture for anyone who wants to embark on a long journey. After this, Tayo’s family and wellwishers
escort to the seaport where he boards the ship and sets sail to England.

Chapter Two
Tayo write a letter to his father, notifying him of his arrival at Oxford. He makes friends with
two students on the ship: Mr. Lekan Olajide from Ogbomosho and Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed
from Kaduna. He also informs his father about meeting with influential people; his being
introduced to a British army Colonel who dined in their college, a Lord, as well as the fact that
King Olav’s son is also a student like him at Balliol. He also expresses his surprise at the
strangeness of things in England compared to what he has been used to in Nigeria. Such things
include the cold weather as opposed to the warmness in Nigeria, the fact that people don’t greet
each other in passing unlike Nigerians who put so much value in greetings and the nonappetising
nature of English food. He also sends his regards to his relatives.
Mr Ajayi, Tayo’s father replies his son’s letter telling him how thankful they are to God for
getting Tayo safely to England. He spells out in the letter that he has told his colleagues at work
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about Tayo’s meeting with King Olav’s son and other influential people (in a boastful manner to
his colleagues at work) and how impressed they are. He also gives information about the
progress that Tayo’s siblings are making in their studies, such as Bisi receiving the highest
honours for geography, and Biyi being made school prefect. Similarly, he talks to him about their
high expectations from Tayo to do the family proud. He promises to send him some articles in
the newspapers. He encourages his son to study hard and reminds him of the Ajayi motto: ‘’in all
things moderation, with exception of study’’ which means studying should not be done with
moderation but with extra effort.

Chapter Three
Tayo meets for the first time with Mr Barker (his headmaster Mr Faircliffe’s old colleague) and
his wife. The narrator describes the traits of the couple which is very peculiar to that of his
father and mother. Isabella cooks wonderful meals in a way that reminds Tayo of his mother
while Mr Barker talks politics like Tayo’s father. They invite him to a drinks party for foreign
students. This is how he meets Christine, the famously beautiful third year student. She is
described as arrogant on account of her beauty but Bolaji (Tayo’s friend) is surprised that she
interacted well with Tayo.
Christine and Tayo eventually become friends and even graduate into a romantic
relationship. Tayo sometimes feels guilty about Modupe, his girlfriend back in Nigeria, having
started a relationship with another lady.

Chapter Four
Vanessa Richardson, Tayo’s colleague in Balliol College who is a young and beautiful English
lady and whose father is a colonial man ( to Nigeria) and an unrepentant racist; is being cruelly
beaten by the rain on a wet October night and gets drunk. Her friends help her dry herself and
take her home. She wakes up with a headache the following morning and manages to write her
friend in Cambridge, Jane about an article she is trying to write on the status of women in
Oxford and the trouble with Oxford men in response to a ‘silly article’ arguing that Oxford
women are to blame for distracting the men. She complains in her letter that women there are
treated like second-class citizens. She also informs her that she has signed up for the Labour
Club, the JACARI (Joint Action Committee Against Racial Inequality) and the College music.
Unlike her father who is a promoter of racism in Africa, she advocates for the racial equality and
emancipation of Africa.

Chapter Five
We are made to know that Christine had sent a letter to him few weeks after their argument that
their relationship is over: she was called ‘clingy’ and the fear of her boy being snatched by
some woman. Here it is revealed that Tayo does not want a long-term commitment. A meeting
holds (The West Africa society meeting) wherein he meets and makes new friends like Chris,
Ike, Bolaji. They exchange greetings in pidgin – their language of fun. He tries to wade off the
thoughts of her by getting involved in some emotion-distracting activities such as setting the
projector, welcoming men guests.
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Tayo plays the film on Nigeria. It starts with a brief history of Nigeria’s colonial rule, serving
as a backdrop to a much longer treatment of Nigeria’s recent independence.
Vanessa is interested in Senghor, Christine is interested in Okigbo. Tayo and Christine meet for
a coffee at her place. Tayo remembers home whenever he comes here because of her cooking
which reminds him of mama and the juju and highlife music she plays. Christine talks to him
about her fears. There is a reference to a book – lonely Londoners which Tayo jovially says that
it will tell him why he shouldn’t look at English girls. Tayo kisses Christine to stop her from

Chapter Six
Vanessa and Tayo are on a work discussing Malcom X’s visit to oxford. Vanessa says “I wish
that English was less racist than America. Tayo says he believes in change especially in the
younger generation. He says he has hope in the British. He shows a considerable level of
optimism. Here, Vanessa notices his habit and composure; picking up twigs to play with while
he walk. His cleverness and yet his humility, “never flaunting his knowledge in the way she
dislikes in men like Charlie and Mehul. She deems/ evaluates him as being more serious and less
flirtatious. This makes her confident in him such that she is prompted to share something that has
been bothering her, which she tags “small confession” she has connections with Africa: her
father and grandfather were in the colonial service. She expatiates further about her father’s
colonial tour in West Africa.
She strives to say this in a positive light so she does not create a bad impression in Tayo of his
parents such as saying her father is “won over to the idea of African independence. The manner
of her narration compels Tayo to tell her she ought to be proud of him which makes her feel
guilty. He tries to make her feel at ease telling her his father has been in the British
administration; first as a court messenger, then, an interpreter and currently an inspector (of
police). She has misled Tayo into thinking her father is one of those colonial officers being
loved by locals. She regrets this. She went to grab a drink where they were harassed by two
men. Vanessa becomes scared but lies to him that he wanted to punch them there. Tayo names
her Moremi. Moremi invites ‘Mr sincere’ (she also named Tayo this) to her grand parents’
Christmas party.

Chapter Seven
Vanessa travels to London for the holidays. Her parents go to pick her at the railway
station. Her mother makes delicacies such as chicken pie and cake to welcome their
daughter. In spite of the long time she has invested in making these things, her husband does not
appreciate it, complaining that it is soggy in the middle.
The narrator expresses Vanessa’s constant irritation towards her dad. Her mother talks about
preparations for the Christmas party and asks Vanessa who is inviting. Her father does not allow
her to answer this question before he sharply grumbles that: ‘’better not be anti-apartheid
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people’’ because he has invited his mining friends. Vanessa becomes angry as she dislikes the
men who exploit the blacks in South Africa to enrich themselves. Nessa is in a dilemma as she
can’t tell those she has invited not to come any longer, yet she is worried about what they will
think on meeting with her father’s racist South African friends.

Chapter Eight
The party comes to play. Tayo is being introduced to her grandfather who is very chatty, talking
about their family ties with Lord Lugard, then her mum and finally the father with his colonial
South African friend who mistake him for a servant. He is glad when the party was over. He puts
to record this day which at the time last year, he was with Chris. He decides to write his father
after a long break in writing him for weeks. In his letter, he describes the house of the
Richardson as an old house (about 200 years old) but spectacularly punctuated with affluence
having 7 rooms, a stable and servants’ quarters. It is at this point he hears a knock on his door
which turns out to be Vanessa. She comes to apologise for any embarrassment caused by her
father. Tayo tells her that he is not offended. They also talk about Tayo’s parents and Tayo
concludes that: “We all get embarrassed by our parents”
Vanessa describes her father as conservative. They move to the subject of polygamy and
monogamy and she asked which suits him. He replies: “monogamy, happy monogamy”.

Chapter Nine
Vanessa visits Tayo in his room, Tayo is admired by Vanessa for his tidiness, for example, his
way of organising his jazz in one pile and high life in another. It was initially his gentleness and
genuineness, attentiveness, his build; fine muscles that set her mind aflutter. They change records
after records. They engage in an intellectual discourse, especially about books, essays and
debates. Vanessa asks to know more about Tayo’s parents which Tayo does. He even shows her
pictures of his family. After these, they play several records and dance to them. He kisses her on
the forehead.

Chapter Ten
This chapter starts with plans for Easter between Tayo and his friends: Vanessa (his new
girlfriend), Simon (his friend), and Nina (Simon’s girl). Simon, one of his friends suggests that
spend Easter in Paris. Tayo and his girlfriend stay in Simon’s Uncle’s apartment. They tour the
beautiful city for days. The rowdy and bustling atmosphere reminds Tayo of home in
Nigeria. Vanessa buys him his first writing journal to record his thoughts. In this, Tayo pens
down the ecstatic love he has for Vanessa. The ultimate happens on their last full in France as
they were preparing for a picnic when a telegram arrives, announcing the death of Tayo exgirlfriend,
Christine who was now Ike’s girlfriend. Ike gives him the details of her death,
mentioning that she committed suicide. Everyone is stunned and wonder why she did it. Tayo,
in deep thought tries to figure out the reason and concludes that he is to blame because he
refused to respond properly the many letters she sent to him. In her letters, she revealed her
anxiety and despair about her academic success to please her family as well as her feeling of
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being an outcast “caught between two lands”, never fully belonging to England or Nigeria. Her
words keep resonating in his mind:
“Bolaji tells us you are busy with your new girl. Please, spare a few moments for your old
friend”. His heart and eyes are heavy due to her death and similarly because he has lied to
Vanessa that Christine was his cousin so that Vanessa does not get jealous. For the rest of the
day, he grieves for Christine.

Chapter Eleven
Vanessa is worried about Tayo because of the loss of his supposed cousin, Christine (his
ex). She hopes that Tayo would return to France with her, but he is determined to spend the
summer with the only family he has in England, his cousin, Tunde. Therefore, she also decides
to go to her family in France, although she dreads staying with her parents. Jane joins her there.
Vanessa’s mother (Elizabeth) receives a letter from the chatty meddlesome Nancy Murdoch
(whose first letter of her name, ‘N’ stands for notoriously nattering nitwit Nancy), her
husband’s friend’s wife, informing her that she and her husband would visit them over the
Bastille holiday. Vanessa’s mother’s reaction and that of her father’s (Jonathan) are symbolic of
marriages without couple’s harmony wherein the ideas, opinions and mentality of the couple are
always opposing, such that they cannot compromise their differences. The narrator says:
‘’father is delighted, mother is furious’’
This is why Mother also insists on inviting Uncle Tony, her brother. Father detests Tony as he is
unconventional to him and because he had the opportunity of achieving a place at Cambridge
University which Vanessa’s father didn’t have. Mother likewise detests Nancy.
Mr. Murdoch and Jonathan have been friends since they met at Oxford in preparation for
colonial service. At the meal, there ensues a string of conversations particularly on Vanessa’s
articles against American foreign policy and about Africa as she supports independence
movements. Her father comments in a pessimistic way about this: ‘‘Well, she might not be
supporting them for long. Wait and see if they last’’. Mother cautions him. Nancy also makes
her disapproving remarks and she is being snubbed by Vanessa and Uncle Tony. She is being
described as having a ‘supercilious (arrogantly proud) tone and feigned generosity’. She even
says that Tayo resembles Jonathan’s gardener in Jos. Elizabeth becomes upset and leaves the
room in anger. Jane and Vanessa also leave for their room.
Vanessa is worried at the persistent misunderstanding that occurs between her parents. Jane
persuades her not to be bothered and changes the topic of discussion to that of Vanessa’s
boyfriend, Tayo. Jane out of her own sexual experience with guys expects that Vanessa would
have had sex with Tayo, but Vanessa denies. Truly, she has not. Jane also asks what impression
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Nessa’s parents have of Tayo and whether they wouldn’t worry about how people will view their
children who would be brown (mulatto/ half-caste). Jane hopes big for Tayo, foreseeing him as a
Prime Minister or a Professor, and indeed, he becomes a professor.

Chapter Twelve
Here, there is a letter written by Vanessa to Tayo. She demands that he writes her many more
letters, telling her how much he has missed her and dreamt of her; otherwise she ‘‘will start to
wonder what he is up to with those northern lasses’’. She wishes he was there with her and talks
about the warm weather. She also narrates how much she dreams of him and how she has been
enjoying the books he suggested to her for reading which she intends to review, such as
Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease, that highlight the dilemmas of postindependence.
Vanessa comments on the ‘Perham review’ sent to her by Tayo. She suggests that he ought to
provide background information on Dame Margery and that he should structure the review
more tightly around his principle criticisms of Perham’s work which include:
An underestimation (dismissal almost) of Africa’s pre-colonial history (as the white racists think
the Africans had no history and that their history only began when they visited Africa to colonise
Failure to acknowledge the potential of Africa’s new leaders
The belief that independence was granted too swiftly to African states.
Moreover, Tayo replies her letter after about two weeks. He also teases her in his letter that she
should not allow French men whom he heard are quite romantic to woo her and to remind
them she has him who is sweeter than they are. He reassures her that he will also ward off the
northern lasses who admire him. He also tells her that his stay at his cousin’s place makes him
realise how fortunate he is to get a scholarship at Balliol College because he witnesses the life
of struggle most African students live, engaging in ridiculous and exhausting jobs such as
bakery and hospital work to make ends meet. This highlights the unspoken suffering the blacks
experience in the white man’s land, whereas those in Africa especially Nigeria think they live a
life of fortune and comfort. The narrator also hints at the air of racism all around England, some
shown in action, some in speech and some in writing. For example, there are signs around
Northern England which read:
“No Dogs, No Irish, No Coloureds’’ (Africans and Indians). The novel also shows that it is not
only Africans who suffer discrimination, but the Pakistanis and Indians who do ‘the hardest
and dirtiest work’ in the bakery, while the ‘least strenuous job in the bakery’ is reserved for the
English; Pakistanis and Indians on the bottom, Africans in the middle and English at the top.

Chapter Thirteen
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This chapter talks about the Tayo’s experiences in his cousin’s house, a house known as a ‘two up,
two down’, with a living room and kitchen on the bottom floor, 2 bedrooms upstairs and a toilet
outside. There is no bathroom, so bathing is done in a tin bath in the kitchen or at public baths.
Tunde shares his room with Tayo and Yusuf (Tunde’s friend) uses the living room as bedroom
because two other Nigerians shared the second room, so no room for him. Due to the absence of
these two Nigerians, Tunde and Yusuf decide to have a party for Tayo and to celebrate Gambia’s
independence (although they are Nigerians but they rejoice so far it is an
African country).
Before the party commences, Tayo realises how morally bankrupt Yusuf is. He says that his
aims are to please ladies. He mocks Tayo for being naive in drinking, smoking and being a
womanizer. They chat further and Tayo asks him if he intends to marry his current white
girlfriend, Joyce. He says the ‘English lasses’ are ‘’for fun, but not for marriage’’. He says
determinedly that when he is ready to marry, he will get married to a hundred per cent Nigerian,
who will definitely be a good northern Muslim. He emphasizes that ‘’Nigerian women are the
best’’. He says:
‘’…Nigerian women know how to care for us, how to cook our food and maintain the culture
for our children. But the English women…dem no fit do dat…’’. (page 84-85). Tayo argues with
him that there is no difference between a white woman and an African woman, stressing that a
woman is to be loved for who she is and not her colour.
The party begins. Joyce and her two friends Norma and Jean arrive. There are food, drinks and
music. Girls reach for Tayo’s hands in admiration. In the evening, he finds himself wrapped
around a woman’s waist. There came a shout and someone strikes him in the jaw and swears at
him for touching his sister. Tayo fights back and dares the man to call the police if he likes. A
policeman arrives, arresting Only Tunde, Yusuf and Tayo since the others have fled. They are
tortured in different cells and eventually released.

Chapter Fourteen
Tayo returns to Oxford. He goes to a wedding (Yusuf’s). Tayo presumes that the bride must
have fallen pregnant, considering the speed of arranging the wedding. The bride’s people are
dressed in traditional Nigerian wedding lace (a hint that the bride is a black and a Nigerian),
which surprises Tayo as he thought Joyce (Yusuf’s white girlfriend) is the bride. Contrarily, the
bride is Joy Williams, not Joyce. The vows are taken and rings exchanged. Vanessa arrives to
join Tayo at the event, in a ‘fine lace wrapper and buba’ which she borrowed from a friend.
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Tayo becomes worried as to how he is going to tell Vanessa that the bride is not Joyce but
Joy. Vanessa, on hearing this exclaims. This suddenly changes Vanessa’s mood and despite his
entire attempt to cheer her up or make her talk becomes futile. Joyce appears at this moment,
lurching towards the newlyweds:
‘’You bastard! Bastard!
Everyone is shocked. This is her way of protesting against Yusuf’s abandonment of her and
going for another woman. She is being led out to avoid trouble. Eventually, Tayo and Nessa
leave the party and on their way back to Oxford, Tayo succeeds in making her talk. Filled with
fury, she asks him why he lied to her, first about Christine being his cousin, while she was her
lover in reality; and then about the bride. Tayo denies having lied about Christine. Tayo fails in
trying to calm Nessa. He even calls her the Yoruba name he gave her: Moremi. She objects:
‘’No! Don’t Moremi me’’. She then goes her way.

Chapter Fifteen
On New Year’s Eve, Tayo wakes up homesick. Suddenly, he decides to cook and goes to buy
chicken from the Covered Market. He is challenged by his ignorance of the spices to cook the
chicken with, but eventually gets help from the stallholder. As he chops the chicken, the bell
rings. It turns out to be Vanessa. He is so excited. They cook and eat together. Thereafter, they
settled their issue. They dance to music and make love.

Chapter Sixteen
Tayo’s favourite uncle, Uncle Kayode pays Tayo an unexpected visit. This is an opportunity for
Nessa to meet a member of Tayo’s family for the first time. They are to meet at the Randolph
Hotel, Oxford’s finest hotel. Nessa is nervous and anxious about whether his uncle will accept
her or not. She relays the Yoruba greeting that she had memorised when he shows up.
Surprisingly, he makes her feel at ease with his friendly chats with her. Vanessa is happy
about this and hopes the rest of Tayo’s family will also be lovely.

Chapter Seventeen
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Mr Richardson (Vanessa’s father) invites Tayo to lead his school assembly with a lecture on
Nigeria which surprises Tayo. This is not the first time Tayo gave talks on Nigeria, but since the
invitation came from the racist Mr Richardson, it has to be exquisite. So, he takes his time in
preparing all the necessary facts, and practising his delivery very well. The manner in which he
started, beginning with his childhood held the boys’ attention. The speech was a success.
After his speech, Mr Richardson shouts ‘’Bravo’’ and he leads Tayo to his study. Tayo is
nervous as he does not know what he will say. Richardson starts:
‘’What are your intentions with my daughter?’’. Tayo is caught off-guard. Richardson continued
by telling him that it is a difficult thing to embark on a cross-racial marriage, citing his marriage
as an example. He stresses that his in-laws do not approve of him, even though; his marriage to
Elizabeth is not as difficult as that of inter-racial one. His own kind of marriage was cross-class
marriage, as his wife is from the upper-class. He therefore discourages Tayo from having any
further relationship with his daughter.
Tayo returns to Oxford. Vanessa is eager to hear things out. She notices his quietness and asks
him what the matter was. He says he is fine. Due to her persistence, he opens up and tells her
that her dad didn’t approve of them.
‘’Vanessa, we can’t be together when your father is so opposed’’
Vanessa says she doesn’t care and that she will sacrifice her family for him. She challenges him
to be a man and go for what he wants. They depart. Tayo reflects on her challenge, concluding
that she is right. He gets back to the college and he is told by the porter that there is a telegram
waiting for Tayo. It was from his mother:
‘’Baba is in hospital, recovering. Return home immediately’’.

Chapter Eighteen
Tayo is back at home. His return witnesses a lot of negative happenings which transform
Nigeria from a peaceful country into that of warfare and degeneration at different
angles. Everything seems strange for Tayo: the sticky heat, the smoke from his mother’s cooking
and the kerosene lamps, the change in size of his siblings. He is amused when his father, in
attempt to call one of his children, he calls several names at a time as his children are numerous
such that he can’t keep track of all his children’s names. He then shouts ‘’ki ni won pe e paa
paa?’’ (what name are you called exactly?).
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Tayo starts to write Vanessa a letter. He pauses to reflect on his last encounter with Mr.
Richardson whom he despises for ‘bigotry’, yet he sees this as less struggle compared to the one
he will face at home in his bid to persuade his own family to accept a white woman as his wife,
remembering his father’s comment the previous day when a family friend announced that his
son will be marrying a white woman: ‘’How will the woman fit in? ‘’. The only relative who
supports his talk of Vanessa is Uncle Bola (whose interest in women remains as strong as ever)
in his comment: ‘’bring de lady come my house when she come Nigeria’’. It is at this point of
reflection that Tayo gets a knock at the door. It is Remi, his younger brother who comes to
inform him that there is a coup. The whole courtyard becomes disorderly.
In the middle of the crowd, he sights Modupe, his first love who is now pregnant. He also meets
her husband at the scene, the couple seeming happy. Suddenly, Dele, the village drunk appears,
confirming the coup and adding that some individuals tried to kill Ironsi the previous day.
Nobody believes him until Tayo’s father listens to BBC which confirms it. It also says curfew
has been declared from 6:30pm. Tayo, realising that everyone was watching him, enjoins
them not to panic and suggests that they return to their homes.

Chapter Nineteen
The news of the coup delays Tayo’s completion of his letter to Nessa. She eventually gets his
letter although he didn’t say when he will be back. She hopes to see him soonest. There is an
irony of situation when Nessa hopes he will be back by March, but this month marks the time
his letters stopped. She writes to him, phones and sends telegrams, none is replied. She becomes
Nessa eventually receives Tayo’s letter after several weeks. He conveys his apology for taking
so long to write to her. He intimates her of the various factors that made him unable to write her,
namely the coup, the start of the civil war and his father’s second heart attack as a result of these.
He states that his family is in a difficult time, so he isn’t sure when he will return to
Vanessa feels pity for him. She decides to stop waiting for him and rather go to meet him in
Nigeria. Tayo picks her up at the airport in Lagos and they check into a hotel. Tayo shows her
around and they eat at a restaurant. They return to the hotel and make love.
The following morning, Tayo is seen pacing by the window. Nessa asks him what is wrong. He
says nothing and claims he has got to buy a few medicines for his father. He insists on going
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alone. He returns without the drugs. He tells her he didn’t go to buy drugs but went for a walk
to clear his head. Something is obviously heavy in his heart which he finds difficult to talk
about. He eventually reveals that he has had an affair. Vanessa is relieved at this, since is also
guilty of having an affair with Charlie when Tayo stopped writing to her. The ultimate happens
when Tayo continues that the woman with whom he had an affair is pregnant. Nessa becomes
mad at him and immediately walks out on him, gets out of Nigeria and out of his life. This is
how their relationship crashed.

Chapter Twenty
After some years, Vanessa is seen in Dakar, living with Salamatou who has taught her many
vocabularies in Wolof (a language). Salamatou is a single mother of half-caste Sulaiman. The
narrator emphasizes the handsomeness of this child such that even Nessa wishes for a child like
Salamatou asks after Abubakar, one of her admirers, a married man to whom Nessa is thankful for
introducing her to those who helped her find stories to send to Reuters as wells as contacts with
the local paper, Paris-Dakar. These mark the beginning of her journey as a successful writer and
journalist for the Africans. He intends to take Nessa as second wife but she refuses.
Nessa’s stay in Dakar afforded her the opportunity to fulfil her dreams: writing about African art
and culture. She continues in her chat with Salamatou who asks her if she never had a lover
before coming to Dakar. She says yes and tells her about Tayo and how things didn’t work out
for them. From their conversation, Salamatou realises that Vanessa still loves Tayo, but Nessa
says it is over between them. She goes back to her flat and cries about Tayo ‘’for the first time in
many months’’.

Chapter Twenty One
For years now, Tayo has been writing about Nigeria’s problems which he believes are
principally GREED and MISMANAGEMENT which paved way for oil corruption and a broken
civil service. Tayo is in his house, searching through the bookshelf for an exemplary text to use
as a prototype for the preface of his manuscript which his publishers requested for. Tayo
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believes that the West through the Word bank worsened Nigeria’s problems. However, he does
not view Nigeria’s problems as insurmountable in spite of the depth of her decay.
Tayo decides to dedicate his book to Vanessa and to his father. Something falls from his pocket
which turns out to be his yesterday’s shopping list containing household needs, written by his
wife, Miriam (the woman he had an affair with and that was pregnant). It is his duty to do the
shopping because his wife is usually out of home for night shifts.
One of the latest developments in Tayo’s life is that he has grown disenchanted with organised
religion. He is irritated by the way new church services cry out confessing their sins in
public. He hardly attends services, whereas his wife is very religious. After his wife and Kemi’s
(his only daughter) return from church, He takes them to Yelwa Club as is their custom one
Sunday a month. He looks happily at his wife, feeling thankful for her present pregnancy after
several miscarriages.
He meets with Yusuf and they discuss Nigeria. Yusuf opines that the only way to solve
Nigeria’s problems is for her to have a strong ruler, like Rawlings of Ghana. Tayo moves to
another topic after this. It is a disgraceful story of a so-called Professor of Economics who was
passed on as a candidate to be employed by the university. Tayo interrogated this Professor who
claims he is a graduate of Oxford like Tayo. Yusuf comments that he knows his reputation, but
Tayo shrugs off the comment and Yusuf says:
‘’Haba, Tayo, you’re too humble my friend.’’ This is another instance that shows how humble
Tayo is despite his achievements. He continues his narration about the professor who said he
attended Oxford College, whereas such name does not exist in England. He even claimed he
read Economics whereas there is no Economics course in England. In short, he is a fake
professor. This portrays the height of corruption in Nigeria.
Tayo is being offered a job at Birmingham University but he is reluctant to accept it although
he knows life will be better there, but feels an obligation to remain in Nigeria for no other
reason than his students. His wife is strongly against this. She tries hard to convince him.

Chapter Twenty Two
Tayo discovers Vanessa’s old diary in his study. This takes his mind back to the thoughts of
Vanessa who is now a well-known writer and one of Africa’s most loved journalists. He
regrets impregnating Miriam (even though he did not intend to sleep with her, but she was the
one who gave out herself freely to him as a way of comforting him after his father’s operation)
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and he could not have abandoned her. She is also loved by his family (she nursed Tayo’s father
when he had stroke), so he had no option than to marry her. He imagines how happy he would
have been if he married Nessa.

Chapter Twenty Three
The Ajayis fly to Lagos for the summer holidays as usual spending a specific period of time with
each relative, starting with Uncle Kayode. His house is a luxurious and striking building that it
has been featured once in a design magazine under the caption, ‘Beauty in the Heart of
Darkness’. There is also an abundance of art in this magnificent house which thrills
Kemi. Helene, Uncle Kayode’s new wife decides to give Kemi a treat by inviting two local
artists to the house to talk about their craft. Kemi asks them seemingly endless questions.
While one of the carvers, Mr Akin talks about his inspiration for his art being a great uncle
who had worked for Lord Lugard before and enjoys telling stories about him, Tayo becomes
interested as he has been interested in sourcing for information about Lugard from the
perspective of a Nigerian, which is not included in the books written about him. Akin offers to
take Tayo to see the uncle. Tayo grabs the opportunity even though his wife reminds him that
his mother is old and such a trip to the uncle will delay their visit to his mother.
When they get to the village, Tayo is asked to wait for the old man. While waiting, he engages in
deep thought feels remorse for being impatient with Mariam and for taking his journey to this
village as priority over visiting his aged mother. His thought also flies to Ike (his college friend)
who works in the Ministry of Education but has done nothing to improve the condition of his
fellow Nigerians. When Tayo challenged him, he says Tayo is unreasonable in his expectations
of a review of higher education. Ike is symbolic of hypocritical individuals who, before getting
to a governmental position, criticise those in power, but when they also get to power, they do the
Tayo eventually meets with Akin’s uncle and he is loaded with a lot of useful information about
Lugard even though he spent more days than he planned at the village before he could discuss
with the uncle. He returns to Lagos and finds out that his mother died in an accident on her way
to Lagos. He blames himself for her death because, had he not gone to visit Akin’s uncle, he
would have gone to see his mother earlier and she would not have had any reason to travel to
Lagos anymore. If only he had put family first, his mother would not have died.

Chapter Twenty Four
Another coup happens a year after Tayo’s mother’s demise. A strong military ruler comes to
power in whom Nigerians invested their hopes for the stamping out of corruption in
Nigeria. However, the optimism vanishes as their hopes were buried by the decree of this new
leader. University students protested which leads to the closure of university for months. It is no
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longer racial war, but war among kinsmen (Nigeria). Tayo supports his student activists. He also
strives in his own way to fight this negative development through his writings.
Tayo is in his study and his wife comes to him, showing him her newly braided hair. He
comments that she is beautiful. He then tells her ‘’No cooking tonight’’ that he is going to take
her out. Unfortunately, Miriam spoils his mood by breaking the news of Tayo’s many close
friends such as the Gordons, the Adewales, the Shahs, and beloved writers such as Wole
Soyinka and Achebe who have left the country for England. This is another strategy by her to
make Tayo see more reason to leave the country with her and their daughter.
She draws his attention to the fact that there are no essential foodstuff in the kitchen such as rice,
bread, egg and sugar. This is because there is little or no income for the couple since the
universities have been closed and hospital workers are not paid salaries, as Miriam works in the
hospital. Tayo remains resolute, saying he has to wait a little more for his students. Here, it is
obvious that Tayo takes his students as priority over his family, which he regrets later in
life. They argue until Miriam leaves the room angrily.

Chapter Twenty Five
Now, Miriam and Kemi have left him for a life in England. He is left alone in Nigeria, and he
resorts to reflecting on memories of them and drinking. In the bar where he is drinking, he meets
two profit-conscious businessmen planning on how to start an import-export business, wanting to
take advantage of the degeneration in Nigeria. Nigeria’s Electrical Power Authority has become
‘Never Expect Power Always’. Therefore, one of them believes in Electric generators, saying
that 90% of Nigerians will be begging for it. The other man, unconvinced, suggests the import of
Mercedes Benz spare parts and export of Nigerian curios and thorn carvings. Tayo having
listened to their discussion feels pity for his country in which chaos and greed is taken for
granted. Tayo, like his father believes the best investments were in lands (farming).
Tayo faces challenge upon challenge which compels him to seriously doubt the wisdom of
staying in Nigeria, while his family had left for England. The first is the broken water pipe
which mechanics insist could not be fixed without spare parts from China. The next headache
comes when his houseboy informs him that he is returning home to Kafanchan for the final
burial of his relative. Yet another one is that of his disappointment and waste of time in a
meeting he had put his mind to and even sacrificed his plan to travel to New York where he was to
receive an award for his book. The meeting was arranged by his friend Simon who is newly
appointed Chairman of a prestigious London Foundation to meet with Mr Peters, Simon’s Africa
Director in a bid to help in funding the University where Tayo teaches. To his surprise, the
foundation offered second-hand books, old software programs that are useless because the
university needs computers to access them but lacks them. The ultimate challenge he faces is
that of threats to his life. He received a suitcase full of cash the previous month (an anonymous
bribe from the authorities) to stop writing against government policies, which he refused.

Chapter Twenty Six
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Tayo gives his students an exercise to discuss the parallels between Indian and Nigerian
experience and he is disappointed that many of them plagiarised, but he couldn’t blame
them. He puts the blame on the appalling situation of Nigeria wherein physical conditions they
live in does not provide an enabling atmosphere for students to study.
Tayo’s relatives are against his outspoken views against the government because of the potential
danger in it. Everyone abandons him. His sister, Bisi has written him ‘’angry letters’’ about this,
his brothers and sisters have stopped asking him to take care of their children, and Hawa is away
visiting relatives in Abuja. Thus, Tayo lives in a ‘no-man’s land’, having no supporters and lives
all by himself. He remembers his daughter who is grown up now. His wife and daughter feel
abandoned. He thinks of how he is to wake up early around four or five just to get fuel at Dogun
Dutse Mobil station where he hears there is fuel. He marvels at how crazy it is for a country
exporting millions of gallons of oil each day not to have any for its own people. What an irony!
Tayo is challenged by soldiers on his way home. After questioning him for his licence they ask
him to get out of his car, but he stubbornly refuses until he is forced out of the car and thrown to
the back seat, while another soldier drives his car and heads for the barrack. A superior officer
mocks him, saying that Tayo is not a professor at the moment because it is of no use and that he
(the soldier) is the professor now. He is being tortured and warned to stop writing pejorative
articles against the government, or else, he will be killed. He crashes to the floor as he is struck
by a pistol. It is at this point that he wakes up in his room. He whispers with fear: ‘’I won’t
write. I won’t write anymore.’’ He hears some footsteps and he is frightened, thinking he is still
at the barrack. It is Nuhu, his houseboy who enters. Tayo whispers: ‘’where are the
soldiers? Nuhu replies: ‘’Dem bring you come house when dem see say you no drive well-well
and enter accident for road’’. He is surprised at the soldiers’ false explanation, because they
have actually beaten him.

Chapter Twenty Seven
The New York Times names the biography of Lord Lugard written by Tayo ‘biography of the
year’, while The Observer described it as ‘the most significant historical text to hail from
Africa in recent times. Vanessa knows that Tayo would be touring England for the promotion
of his book and therefore gets his tour dates from her editor, so, they could meet.
Tayo arrives and he is being introduced. He does not notice Vanessa until the end of his
talk. On sighting her, he shouts her name, and Vanessa, out of nervousness tells him she would
be right back. She rushes to the toilet to gather her composure. She returns to the seminar room.
Tayo gestures to her not to leave and she gestures back that he should take his time, so she waits
for him. They eventually meet to talk. They are both excited to see each other after so long a
time (28 years). They have now aged but they are still elegant-looking. They have dinner
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together. They talk about each other’s present status such as Vanessa being married to Edward
Barker, Tayo’s old benefactor, how she becomes a journalist, her adoption of Suleiman (her only
son), the loss of her mother to cancer, Tayo’s loss of his both parents, (his mum died in an
accident while his dad died of stroke).
Samir (Tayo’s college mate) sees Tayo at this point after so many years. He talks endlessly
about Nigeria’s military rule which makes Nessa uncomfortable. He has diverted Tayo’s
attention to himself, thereby not allowing her to discuss with Tayo. Out of boredom, she tells
them she has a train to catch. Tayo apologises for Samir’s intrusion. Tayo tells her how much
he missed her. He seeks her permission for him to kiss her, but she says she will miss her train.
Chapter Twenty Eighteen
Vanessa is deep in thoughts and memories of Tayo. She also thinks about her son. When she was in
Dakar, she did not worry about how to raise him because she was never alone, but here in
England, mothering is a lonely job for her, in spite of old Edward’s presence. He is now
eighteen and he is very different from his charming self as a boy. Other mothers empathised
with her, saying that it’s a symptom of teenage years, but she perceives that what they actually
had in mind is that: ‘’that is the problem with having a black child’’.
Again, she remembers that it is their anniversary day (18 years of marriage). Edward, her
husband had shown kindness to her and has treated her like a father and eventually proposed
to her. She refused the first time but accepted it the second time, thinking it would be foolish
to refuse again; after all, he became her closest friend and benefactor when times were hard
for her. Nevertheless, she still dislikes those things she had disliked about him in the
beginning. Now, it has gone worse for him as he is now forgetful, talkative, he no longer thirsts
for Africa and his smell of old age.
When she gets home, her husband gives her a surprise. He got a book for her in the bookshop
(which he thinks she would like as a literary mind): ‘’Long Walk to Freedom’’. She appreciates
it as the book had just come out. She opens it and finds a note on the inside cover written by
Edward: ‘’To the woman I love, and with whom I have walked the best 18 years of
my life’’. She feels loved.

Chapter Twenty Nine
Tayo writes Vanessa. He furthers their discussion the last time they met about the role of the
artist. He complains that he does not know where he fits which has to do with a sense of cultural
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non-belonging. For instance, he does not comply with the demands of his extended family, he is
no longer certain of the existence of a god. These are fundamental elements in African culture
which are not meant to be questioned. He also adds that he’s tired of social interaction. ‘These
are all markers of African society’. He asks the rhetorical question: ‘’What then is my African
personality?’’ He also expresses how much he enjoyed the conversation he had with Vanessa
when last they met.
Vanessa replies Tayo’s letter. She tells him how lovely it was to hear from him. She expresses
how alarmed she is to hear of his detention even though he does not state it in his letter. She
demands him to promise her that he will be careful. Moreover, she intimates him of her
nostalgic feelings for her days in Dakar and her restlessness in England. She identifies with
Tayo’s feeling of not being able to define his personality as she does not feel particularly
English. She asks rhetorically: ‘’What then is my personality – African, European or
Afropean?’’ Is this restlessness the price we pay for having lived in other countries and tasted
other cultures?…’’ she continues to ask an endless stream of questions which tell how restless
she really is. Similarly, Vanessa expresses her guilt in not being good enough mother to her son:
She had focused too much on her career and not spent enough time with Suleiman.
Tayo’s reply of Vanessa’s letter follows. In his letter, he assures her that she is a wonderful mother
and that Suleiman himself knows (Tayo tries to make Vanessa not feel guilty as the cause of
Suleiman’s strange behaviour). He explains that Suleiman is ‘’only going through a stage and the
stage will pass’’. He talks about his temporary detention just because he showed his students
Perry Henzel’s film, The Harder They Come.
In addition, he also mentions that things have not gone well with him and Miriam. The previous
month, he decided that he must move to England for the sake of his family, but it was too
late. His wife is already asking for divorce. He expresses his guilt in the fact that he placed his
profession before his family. His daughter, Kemi also holds him responsible for what happened
between her mum and him because he places priority on his students over his family. He talks
about his lack of conviction when he prays. He concludes the letter by telling Nessa he misses
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Chapter Thirty
While thinking of Tayo’s most recent letters, Vanessa remembers an old story which her mother
had told her about love. It is about a common saying that a person never marries their first love but
they are reunited later in life after being married to someone else. This is referred to as the pick-upyour-
stick-and-sandals marriage. She wonders if this is applicable to her and Tayo.
The narrator expresses Nessa’s state of mind concerning the surprises Edward always gives
her and the last encounter she had with her son. She does not like surprises anymore especially
when it involves lots of people, like the party he threw for her on her birthday, the week
before. Suleiman had also presented her with a bunch of wilting flowers which cost £4.99. She
remembers how they quarrelled when she drove him to the airport for his journey to North
England. Here is a part of their argument:
Suleiman: You’ve wanted me to do this trip anyway
Vanessa: I’m happy you’re going, Suleiman, but it’s just the timing. You’ve only just started
university and what happens when you return?
Suleiman: who said I’m coming back?
Nessa: don’t be ridiculous
Suleiman: Ah, fuck you, Mum!
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Nessa: What? How dare you speak to your mother like that?
Suleiman: Mother? What mother? Did you think you were doing some nice charity work for
Africa when you decided to adopt me?…
Nessa; Go then, but remember I adopted you because I love you, because your mum was my best
friend and I promised Salamatou to take care of you…
After their arguments, there was silence till they got to the airport and Suleiman disappears
from her sight.
Vanessa, after her deep thought and reminiscence, she writes a letter to Tayo. She makes it
known to him that Tayo’s last letter has lifted her spirit and that she has been imagining how life
would have been like with him. She also tells him of the pick-up-your-stick-and-sandals

Chapter Thirty One
Vanessa goes to check on her aged father in The Carrington Home for the Elderly which always
smelt of disinfectant and urine. This is the same home Nancy Murdoch is kept. Vanessa’s father
has really aged such that his hearing is supported by hearing aids and he keeps looking for things
that are not there. For example, He searches for his pen in a briefcase that is empty. Nessa comes
to his aid, assuring him that she will help him find one in his bedroom.
After helping her father cut his nails and listening to her father’s numerous complaints, she
informs her father of her decision to go to the airport the following day. Her father hastily
concludes that Vanessa is off to interview the coloured people again. She says no, that she is
going to meet Tayo. Vanessa’s father starts yelling, warning her that Tayo is interested only in
her body and that he has used black magic on Nessa. She shuts her father up.
Nessa waits for Tayo at Heathrow being the day Tayo is meant to arrive. She waits for so long
and she is forced to go to the desk to enquire if Tayo is on the list of passengers. Tayo is not on
the list.
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Chapter Thirty Two
Tayo decides to leave Nigeria and this time for a long time. His driver, Abdou drives him down
to the airport. Abdou tells his master to help him find a job in England. Tayo says he will see
what he can. Abdou also tells him that he may find an English woman to marry so as not to be
troubled by authorities. Tayo corrects his opinion about marriage and tells him that ‘’marriage is
a serious thing’’ and that he should not marry a woman just for the papers, but out of love. A
storm occurs on the road and leads to an accident whose victims are Tayo and his driver.
Chapter Thirty Three
Kemi arranged Tayo’s trip to the United States so as to take care of him. She lives in a onebedroom
apartment in San Francisco (US). Tayo reflects on the accident and the aftermath of
it. Abdou eventually died after a long period of internal bleeding. Tayo is also badly injured in
the leg and he is not capable of independent movement for a period of time.
It is this accident that foils his plan to visit Vanessa and it makes him short of cash such that he
depends solely on the dollars that his daughter gives him. He is also stuck in the U.S. as he
cannot afford to travel to England. What a change of fortune! Kemi tells her father to see her
therapist as she senses her father’s depression, but he argues that he is perfectly fine and that he
does not believe in therapists. He wonders what his daughter needs a therapist for. Kemi claims
that it helped her in difficult times, when she lived without a father and her parents’
divorce. This leads to a stream of arguments which makes the atmosphere gloomy.
Kemi returns home in a better mood and reconciles with her father, taking back all the resentful
words she had thrown at him in the morning. Tayo discovers that it is Miriam who has been
sending money for his treatment. Kemi also discovers who Vanessa is to Tayo. They become
excited about their re-union.

Chapter Thirty Four
Vanessa is busy thinking in the quietest time of the night. After her father’s death, Edward
suggested that she publishes her father’s book. She is at first reluctant to do so because of the
poor relationship between her and her father. She discovers that it is a manuscript full of racist
comments about Africans, although it also contains many interesting details of the colonial
period, therefore having some historical significance. The only thing missing in the manuscript
is the perspective of the Nigerians who worked with her father. This is why she wrote to friends
in Nigeria, hoping to get information from his old workers. Nobody replied except Saratu, the
daughter of Vanessa’s mother’s maid. She tells her part of the story, making positive comments
about Vanessa’s mother and praising her kindness.
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Another thing that Vanessa tries to find out is the reason for her mother’s return to England
before her father. Since childhood, she is made to believe that it was for her education, but a
year ago, Uncle Tony told her another version of the story saying that something had upset her
mum and that her father travelled a lot, leaving her mum behind. Vanessa then makes
deductions from the facts she has at hand and discovers that her mother had an affair with their
gardener, Danjuma. Her father discovered and sacked Danjuma, while her mother returned to
England with young Vanessa, while her father remained in Nigeria. She looks at her mum’s
picture and begins to cry. Suleiman finds her crying and consoles
her. Vanessa tells her son that if he is interested in books, Tayo could help him. Suleiman gets a
hint that his mum must have some feelings for Tayo considering how frequent she talks about
him. He therefore teases his mother about him.

Chapter Thirty Five
John Harris, a Professor of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco is introduced to Tayo by Kemi and he
offers Tayo a part-time job which he would have declined if not that he knows Kemi needs
money. He teaches the political history of West Africa and Oral histories in Northern Nigeria. It
is here that he meets Kwame. He is excited to have someone of like minds with him and
someone with whom he can talk to about Nigeria and about his experiences in America.
Eventually, Obasanjo is back in power. Tayo deems it fit to return to Nigeria and looks forward
to participating in a new Nigeria. He discusses the extent of racism in America with his
Kwame. Kwame asserts that:
‘’Look, Tayo, if you live in America long enough, you’ll see there is no way of avoiding
race. Race is a part of the fabric of this nation. You’re either black or you’re white, and this
affects every aspect of your life’’
This shows the extent to which the blacks suffer discrimination in the hands of the whites. Tayo
also complains that: ‘’I see race playing out in my classroom between blacks, whites and
Latinos.’’ Kwame then suggests that he holds a debate between his students by asking them to
debate on a provocative topic. The outcome of this was a fight in the class.
Tayo receives a package from the Nigerian Embassy. He opens it and finds a letter inside it
which says Tayo has been awarded an honorary degree from Oxford. Tayo could not believe his
eyes. Kemi congratulates him.

Chapter Thirty Six
Tayo receives an honorary degree (Doctorate of literature). This event is graced by Tayo’s loved
ones such as Kemi, Vanessa and her son (Suleiman), Bisi, Bolaji, Uncle Kayode and Miriam
(his estranged wife). Kemi and Miriam surprisingly receive Vanessa pleasantly. Kemi even tells
Nessa when she wanted to leave:
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‘’No, you can’t. Dad’s been dying to see you’’. Vanessa is touched by Kemi’s kind words.
Vanessa and Tayo take a walk together, talking about each other’s wishes. Tayo says that ‘’he
wishes he could go back in time and re-live his life’’. Vanessa asks him what would change if it
happens, and Tayo replies that he would have married her. They embrace each other. A middleaged
couple, who request that Tayo and Vanessa help take a photograph for them, spurs them
into action as they also offer to take a photograph of Vanessa and Tayo too, thinking they are
married. They are made to make a romantic pose for the photograph. This further leads to an
affectionate kiss between Tayo and Nessa. They sit on a bench, ‘hand-in-hand with her head on
his shoulder’. They show each other love to the extent that the three students who had passed
them on their way to the river now pass them again and comment that Tayo and Nessa must be
mad because the weather is freezing. This is a hint to a new love life between Tayo and Nessa.

2 thoughts on “Chapters Summary of “IN DEPENDENCE” By Sarah Ladipo Manyika”

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