Today I would like to talk about a strong woman… a determined woman… an independent African female writer: Buchi Emecheta. Dr. Buchi Emecheta is an established Nigerian author who has published over 20 books. She wrote such books as Slave Girl, The Joys of Motherhood, Second Class Citizen, The Bride Price, and more recently Kehinde. Her themes have always revolved around motherhood, child slavery, and women independence. Buchi got married at the tender age of 16, and by the age of 22 was the mother of five children (they had moved to London after the birth of the first child for her husband to pursue higher education). Her marriage was unhappy and oftentimes violent. She used writing as an escape, to keep her sanity. The day her husband burnt her first manuscript marked Buchi’s rebirth. As she watched him burn her novel, she said ‘I am going to leave this marriage‘ and the man replied ‘what for? that stupid book?‘, and she told him, ‘I just feel you just burn my child.‘ (Source: Buchi Emecheta BBC). That was really her turning point. At the age of 22, she left her husband, raised her 5 children by herself, got a degree in sociology studying at night, and wrote 4 novels in the space of 5 years. She would often rise at dawn to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. She wore several hats: mother, student, writer, and worker.
Like her Nigerian ancestors, she uses storytelling to teach morals, to entertain and to instruct. She brings to her writing the Igbo qualities of vividness, economy and directness. She speaks for the marginalized woman. Some of her first novels, such as In the Ditch and Second Class Citizen, were quite autobiographical. She views her writing as the “release for all my anger, all my bitterness, my disappointments, my questions and my joy.” Please help me acclaim Buchi Emecheta, a powerful woman, a powerful writer, and a proud daughter of Africa. In her own words, Buchi advises ‘whatever you want to do with your life. “Just keep trying and trying. If you have the determination and commitment you will succeed.”‘ (Source: ‘Just’ an Igbo Woman Interview by Julie Holmes in The Voice July 9, 1996.) Check out some of Buchi’s quotes on GoodReads.com.