Category Archives: 4 – Postcolonial Africa

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Buchi Emecheta, Nigerian-born novelist

Florence Onyebuchi also known as Buchi Emecheta was born in July 21, 1944 in Lagos, Nigeria. Her parents were part of indigenous group called Igbo. They were native to the Umuezeokolo Odeanta village in the Delta State. She spent much of her youth at home until she was able to convince her parents of her desire to learn. She was able to begin her education at a missionary school for girls later on. When she was just nine years old, she had to deal with the loss of her father. She planned to keeping studying and managed to earn a scholarship to pay for her tuition. She was engaged to a schoolboy when she was just 11 years old, which is a little surprising. When she was 16 years old, she lost her mother and was left an orphan. After two years of marriage and two children, she left for London to meet with her husband, who was currently a student at a university. She had a total of five children, all of whom she devoted her time and energy to, despite her unhappy marriage. Writing in her spare time was a way for her to cope with the stress of living with her husband. As a black woman living in London, she wrote about her experiences there. She was able to land a job as a librarian and graduated from the University of London with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Buchi with her five children.

Second-Class Citizen

In 1974, Emecheta published an autobiography called Second- Class Citizen. The story of a Black woman’s struggle for survival. As she grew into a woman, she became more aware of her own aspirations and desires. Coming  from a good class position Nigerian family to an impoverished one in Europe’s predominantly white society.

The Joys of Motherhood 

The novel, The Joys of Motherhood, released in 1979, brought her to the broader public’s attention. Nigerian urban women’s socio-economic and cultural concerns are addressed in this study. Having children in a marriage can be difficult for a black Nigerian woman, and this struggle is made obvious. The novel tells the story of  a young Igbo woman, Emecheta relates the story of an aspiring mother and traditionalist. The woman lives her  entire life in Lagos, Nigeria, where she observes the gradual erosion of her people’s traditional traditions due to Western influence. Ending her life with no possibility of becoming a mother to a large family is a crushing blow to her aspirations and desires.

Notable works

  • The Bride Price (1976)
  • The Slave Girl (1977)
  • Destination Biafra (1982)
  • Double Yoke(1982)
  • The Rape of Shavi (1983)

Emecheta focused the majority of the time on making novels but later branched out to write plays and children books. Emecheta was awarded the Jock Campbell Prize in 1978, one of several honors she obtained throughout her writing career. On a list of the 100 most influential women in history, Emecheta ranked 98th in BBC History Magazine’s August 2018 issue. Emecheta paved her own way to world wide recognition and implemented influential studies through her writing. Her legacy will live on for decades as one of the first Black female novelist to publish in the UK.

Cited Works

  • Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Buchi Emecheta”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 17 Jul. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Buchi-Emecheta. Accessed 21 December 2021.
  • Busby, Margaret (3 February 2017). “Buchi Emecheta obituary”. The Guardian.
  • Onwordi, Sylvester, “Remembering my mother Buchi Emecheta, 1944–2017”, New Statesman, 31 January 2017.