Celebrating a Strong Writer: Buchi Emecheta or the Joys of Motherhood

Buchi Emecheta
Buchi Emecheta

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 KehindeHer themes have always revolved around motherhood, child slavery, and women independenceBuchi 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.

The Joys of Motherhood
'The Joys of Motherhood' by Buchi Emecheta

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.

8 thoughts on “Celebrating a Strong Writer: Buchi Emecheta or the Joys of Motherhood

  1. I respect and admire the courage of this woman. May our sisters and mothers stay blessed. Merci pour ce magnifique partage; il faut avouer que je ne la connaissais pas. Je vais essayer de me procurer ses romans, si possible.


  2. Patchani Patabadi

    Thank you for this post.
    Actually I worked on B. Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood for my Masters in African Literature, and on her Second Class Citizen for my DEA.
    She is one of the African women writers I really admire. Her struggle to have her “head above water” as her autobiographical novel is entitled, is a taught lesson to the rest of African women who have to learn how to take their destiny in their own hands and make of it a success.
    not only does she inspire me to continue struggling as a woman but she teaches me that I can be a “self-fulfilled woman” which no societal expectations has to define for me but which I should define by myself and therefore be myself. This reminds me of Luce Irigaray in an essay she dedicated to the German woman surrealist Unica Zurn, wrote the following “If woman is to put into form the ‘ule’ [Greek: matter] that she is, she must not cut herself off from it nor leave it to maternity, but succeed in creating with that primary material that she is […] Otherwise, she risks using or reusing what man has already put into forms, especially about her, risks remaking what has already been made, and losing herself in that labyrinth”. In other words, a woman needs not relying anymore on what the male norms expect from her or has set up for her; but as a woman she needs to create her “own self” and asserts herself in the society.
    Thank you!


    1. I truly love what you said at the end: “A woman needs not relying anymore on what the male norms expect from her or has set up for her; but as a woman she needs to create her “own self” and assert herself in the society.” Such a perfect comment for this month (Women history’s month)… and a perfect comment to all women out there: define yourself not based on society, but offer your uniqueness to the world, assert your position in the world.


  3. Reblogged this on African Heritage and commented:

    In memory of one of Africa’s great women writer, I would like to share a post I wrote a few years back dedicated entirely to her work. Buchi Emecheta was a strong woman, a strong writer, and she used her writing to get out of a difficult situation (violent marriage, divorce, single-handedly raising 5 children). Above all, she believed in what she was doing, and gave us some of the first feminist books in Africa


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s