The Misinformation of Denial
A fair portion of the talk with Jude Dibia this evening was spent discussing the concept that many Africans when encountered with homosexuality of some sort are incredibly afraid and act in a way of denial. We see this in Walking with Shadows, the way Ada and Adrian’s brothers act toward the news of him being gay. It takes a great deal of time for them to acknowledge the credibility of what Adrian just said and revealed to them. However, I kept returning to the scene that in Dibia’s novel that, from my perspective, seemed to defy that idea of denial, in fact possibly indicating over-acceptance, if that even makes sense. The scene I’m referring to is that of Rotimi, when he basically forces his way into Adrian’s car in order to take advantage of a free ride home.
Rotimi reveals during the ride that he had a sexually experimental experience with a gay man at the bank that he knows, all the while continuing to insist on his love for women. Rotimi is clearly very confused and frightened, not certain where to turn next for love, turning subsequently to the only person near by whom he feels he can embrace in the moment how he feels, Adrian:
“Slowly Rotimi began leaning toward Adrian. At the point when their lips almost touched, Adrian backed away, breaking the spell.
‘Rotimi stop!’ he sighed. ‘You don’t have to do this.’
‘I want to, Adrian.’
‘No, you don’t!’ Adrian pressed.” (163).
Ultimately what I feel, is that Rotimi is actually exhibiting a sort of denial. He’s denying, whether consciously or not, of the implications and meaning of homosexuality. This also displays one of the underlying issues at the center of this novel, the misinformation that circulates about homosexuality in Nigeria. There is so little accurate information regarding different forms of sexuality that Rotimi doesn’t know how properly analyze his feelings with any other lens other than the one the homophobic Nigerian culture and government have taught him. Additionally, this misinformation and denial fosters massive fear displayed greatly by the characters in this scene. Rotimi is scared shitless to the possibility of being gay and what being in the car with Adrian means for him. That same fear drives Adrian to basically kick out of the car the only person to show him some kind of kindness who didn’t previously know he was homosexual. Ultimately, they’ve created a cycle of fear, misinformation and denial, in which Adrian and Rotimi are the latest victims.