The novel begins in the early 1960s when Tayo Ajayi meets Vanessa Richardson, the beautiful daughter of an ex-colonial officer. Their story, which spans three continents and four turbulent decades, is that of a brave but bittersweet love affair. In Dependence tells the story of Tayo Ajayi, a Nigerian man who gets a scholarship to study at Oxford and Vanessa Richardson, the daughter of an ex-colonial officer.
While it is a story of their love which spans from 1963 to 1998, it’s way more than that. It’s also a story about Nigeria, its independence and the changes that occur in the country post-independence – the Biafran war, the first coup and the numerous countercoups, military dictatorships, the brief return to civilian rule, exile of Nigerians, and towards the end of the book the eventual return to democracy.
It is the story of individuals struggling to find their place within uncertain political times – a story of passion and idealism, courage and betrayal. There are also issues of race, racism and cultural differences. We see Tayo, Vanessa, as well as a host of other characters; live their lives amidst all these issues.
Tayo is an intelligent man but he always seems to do wrong. He tries to do the right thing, never wants to hurt anyone but in the end he does, especially the women in his life – and there are quite a number of women in his life that he hurts. Vanessa, on the other hand, dreams of being a journalist writing on African issues, marrying Tayo and moving with him to Nigeria to start a new life.
Unfortunately life gets in the way and a host of things prevent most of her dreams from coming true. She does end up living one of her dreams – being a world renowned journalist on African issues.
Tayo and Vanessa end up living their lives independent of each other but no matter what they did, and where they were, the thoughts and love they had for each other lingered on (even though the other didn’t necessarily know).