Sarah Ladipo Manyika: In Dependence

Sarah Ladipo Manyika

“Today, she’d brought him daffodils to brighten the room. ‘Women can bring men flowers too, you know.’ She smiled, sensing his hesitation as she arranged them in an empty milk bottle. Already, the buds were opening and adding a bright splash of buttery yellow to his room. She placed them next to the neat stack of books and papers and then picked up the one that was marked: A Handbook for Students from Overseas. She studied what he’d underlined and smiled as she read aloud from the section on Habits and Customs. ‘It says here that when two people meet and they wish to save themselves from the embarrassment of silence, they usually talk about the weather. Did we talk about the weather when we first met?’” – Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Sarah Ladipo Manyika was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, and England. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and taught literature at San Francisco State University. Sarah currently serves on the boards of Hedgebrook and the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane sat in conversation with Sarah to discuss her first novel In Dependence. The book has sold over 1 million copies worldwide. Man Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo describes this debut as ‘A beautiful and ambitious novel’. The novel spans over several decades starting in the early sixties, where we meet Tayo Ajayi in Nigeria on his way to England to study at Oxford University on a scholarship. While at Oxford he discovers a whole generation excited about a new and better world. He meets a number of young womxn but he is fascinated by Vanessa Richardson, a daughter of a former colonial officer. Their love story, which spans over four decades, is a bittersweet tale of many twists and turns, and the universal desire to fall truly, madly and deeply in love.

This debut novel is stunning. The storytelling sublime. The writing is ‘clean as bone’. The characters are written in a delicate and complex manner. Sarah tells the history and its nuances with skill and care.

This conversation explores the love story between Tayo and Vanessa, through the decades, across continents and with opposing forces. The love story allows us to reminisce about the music throughout the decades as well as the political conversations of that moment. In the conversation, we discuss interracial dating, race and the politics of geography. We talk to the complexities of contemporary Africa, patriarchy, feminism and culture. We speak about Sarah’s literary influences including the great Toni Morrison. We take a short pause to discuss her sophomore novel Like a Mule Bringing Ice-cream to the Sun’

This conversation, like the book, was delicious, rich and filled with lightbulb moments.

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