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.


About Deb Carey

Princeton in Africa Fellow living in Musanze, Rwanda. | Living to see a world with more economic freedom, community-driven change, and peace. | Interests include: mobile innovations | supply chain management | trade facilitation | business development | community-led initiatives | macroeconomic trends | This blog is a compilation of the above - enjoy and drop me a line to join in the conversation!

Posted on November 13, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. bersabellyeshitla

    Chika, unlike Chiedu and his parents, shows acceptance to Adrian at a time where he needed it the most. Through the simple gesture of letting Adrian know that he loves him, Chika instills hope in Adrian. Although Adrian is still the same person that loves his family, in order for him to live comfortably he feels the need to move out of Nigeria. While Adrian doesn’t really realize that there are homophobes all over the world, Dibia, in the second section of readings does a good job explaining that it is difficult for a black homosexual in any area of the world.

  2. Both the original blog post and the comment above are well said, thank you! I agree with the blog post when it states that Chika is a champion of this novel. I agree, because of the different and more positive way, compared to others in their family, in which he treats his brother Adrian when he reveals his sexual orientation to him. Instead of treating Adrian as someone to be feared or rejected, Chika still accepts him even if he can’t necessarily approve of his actions. It is in this way that I see Nigerian and possibly African beliefs towards homosexuality going. While they may continue to hold onto their belief that they can’t fully approve of the actions, homosexual people are in fact still people, they still belong to a family, and should still be accepted. I see these greater illusions being placed in the character of Chika, truly making him the champion of the story, because of the futuristic way in which he handles Adrian’s news.

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