Chika, the Champion
“What did you say?”
“I said, take care,” Chika said.
“No, before that.”
Chika hesitated. “I said I love you, bro.”
Adrian moved back to the living room where Chika now stood. Whithout warning he hugged him and as Chika hugged him back hot tears flowed down Adrian’s cheeks.
I don’t know about you, but when I read this passage I let out a loud “FINALLY” on the N2 metrobus. For every selection we read, I have been even more disappointed by the amount of people who seemed to only love Adrian when he fit into the confines of other people’s expectations. With Chika, however, Dibia finally introduced a character that offered a counter to the rejection that Adrian constantly faces.
It’s hard for us to believe Nigeria’s strict laws, and the consequences that correspond with them. But in a way, Chika’s character makes the situation more understandable. While it’s easy to show everyone as one way, like all heterosexual Nigerians as homophobic, complicating Adrian’s web of relationships with a wife that accepts him, and a brother that also does (partially) offers a better portrait of real life in Nigeria. The struggle seems to run much deeper than just one against the other.
Just like sexuality, acceptance of sexuality runs on a spectrum. Dibia literally illustrates this with his characters, with Chiedu and Abdul on the opposite ends, and Ada and Chika closer to the middle. While we want to see two opposing forces, Dibia challenges his readers to think deeper about this issue by showing Chika as someone who realized his prejudice and openly struggles with it. Dibia questions: in a way, haven’t we all been Chika at some time or another? The beauty of Chika is his decision to check himself and to love his brother regardless of his opinions.
For this, Chika is a champion in this book. While he states that he cannot approve of Adrian’s sexual orientation, we are given the feeling that this, too, may change as Chika gets to know an unpretending Adrian.