Saturday, October 10, 2009
Dr. BUCHI EMECHETA: YET ANOTHER CREDIT TO NIGERIA
The very first time I came across her name was in 1999. I had to buy one of her books to read for my Literature paper in JAMB. It was entitled SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN. It was a pirated copy and not even complete but a very interesting read; about an Igbo woman who moved to England to join her husband who was studying Law. Being a black immigrant in 60s London was no walk on the beach at all, as she soon found out not to mention married to a tyrant who did nothing to look after her and their children. Things came to a head when she decided to become a writer and wrote her first novel, only for her husband to burn the whole thing up as a way of reminding her who was the head of the household. After that incident and more beatings, she left with their kids(including an unborn one) and later filed for a divorce; which she was granted along with full custody of the children.
Last year,durin the annnual International Book Fair at the University of Lagos, I bought some of her other books; THE SLAVE GIRL, THE JOYS OF MOTHERHOOD and her autobiography, HEAD ABOVE WATER. I also saw one , THE BRIDE PRICE, the same name of the burnt manuscript in SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN! Could it be???
I read part of HEAD ABOVE WATER and realised that the character Adah, was Mrs. Emecheta herself... it was her who'd gone through all that- struggling as a librarian to feed 5 kids, married to a creep, living in a ghetto, having to cope in a racist society, it was her all along! My heart went out to her right there and then.
Today, I found an original copy of 'Second-Class citizen' and 'The Rape of Shavi', a little easier these days because more people have decided to go back to their roots- reading more of our African Literature, not that there's anything wrong with Western Literature, mind. I have a friend who went a far as to buy SECOND CLASS CITIZEN online, her books potray women living in oppression, poverty and male domination; by this, in my opinion,she cuts grim but realistic situations and very real characters, especially her main character,Nnu Ego, in THE JOYS OF MOTHERHOOD(the title by the way is sarcastic, read the book and you'll find out why).
After her divorce, she continued working very hard; librarian, sociology student, social worker,sociologist author/playwright- THE SLAVE GIRL won the Jock Campbell Award, 2 plays on BBC television, children's books, I can just go on.
Today, she's a well travelled lecturer besides being a novelist and was awarded Order Of The British Empire(OBE)in 2005.
She is the epitome of the strength and perseverance God had given her and I salute her for it.