One of Africa’s most celebrated literary author of the popular novel, The Joys of Motherhood, Buchi Emecheta is dead. She died on Wednesday in her sleep at the age of 72 while in London, UK.
Emecheta has been based in Britain since 1960. She is popular with her writings of over 20 books which include plays and an autobiography about African women’s experiences in Great Britain and Africa.
The author of Second-Class Citizen (1974), The Bride Price (1976) and The Slave Girl (1977) among others was born on 21 July 1944, in Lagos, Nigeria, to Igbo parents, Alice (Okwuekwuhe) Emecheta and Jeremy Nwabudinke, both parents from Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria.
The author’s father was a railway worker in the 1940s. Due to the gender bias of the time, the young Buchi Emecheta was initially kept at home while her younger brother was sent to school; but after persuading her parents to consider the benefits of her education, she spent her early childhood at an all-girl’s missionary school. Her father died when she was nine years old.
A year later, Emecheta received a full scholarship to the Methodist Girls School, where she remained until the age of 16 when, in 1960, she married Sylvester Onwordi, a student to whom she had been engaged since she was 11 years old.
Her themes of child slavery, motherhood, female independence and freedom through education won her considerable critical acclaim and honours, including an Order of the British Empire in 2005.
Emecheta once described her stories as “stories of the world…[where]… women face the universal problems of poverty and oppression, and the longer they stay, no matter where they have come from originally, the more the problems become identical.
Emecheta has been characterised as “the first successful black woman novelist living in Britain after 1948”