26 January 2017

Nigeria: Remembering Nigerian Literary Icon Buchi Emecheta

Photo: The Guardian
Buchi Emecheta

Florence Onyebuchi "Buchi" Emecheta one of the most popular and celebrated African writers has died at the age of 72 in London. The Nigerian novelist based in Britain since 1960, wrote several plays, autobiographies and children stories. The continent mourns the death of an African icon and tributes continue to pour in.

Florence Onyebuchi "Buchi" Emecheta was born on July, 21, 1944 in Lagos. She was widely recognized for one of her magnum opus The Bride Price, a book she authored in 1976 during the political suppression and alienation of women in post-colonial Nigeria.

Emecheta was a remarkably popular writer among women and she wrote other popular books which include, The Slave Girl (1977), Second Citizen (1974) and The Joys of Motherhood (1979).

Emecheta once described her writing as "stories of the world where women face the universal problems of poverty, neglect, violence and oppression, and the longer they stay, no matter where they have come from originally, the more the problems become identical". She was characterized as "the first successful black woman novelist living in Britain after 1948".

As accomplished female author in a male dominated industry, Emecheta travelled across the world to promote her literature. She visited several universities in United States of America and Europe. Her writing brought the African cultural narrative to the limelight. She was able to tell the African stories from different perspectives and subjective experiences.

"May the soul of Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta (1944-2017) rest in perfect peace. Go well, Buchi! You soared very high!" @AMABBooks

According to her interview with BBC World Service, many of Emecheta's books were heavily influenced by her own experiences and real events - but she didn't start out with intention of writing about her life:

"the first book I wrote was The Bride Price which was a romantic book, but my husband burnt the book when he saw it. I was the typical African woman, I'd done this privately, I wanted him to look at it, approve it and he said he wouldn't read it. And later he burnt the book and I think by that time this urge to write had become more important to me than he realised, and that was the day I said I'm going to leave this marriage and he said "what for, that stupid book" and I said "I just feel you just burn my child"

From 1980 to 1981, she was senior resident fellow and visiting professor of English, at the University of Calabar in Nigeria. In 1982 she lectured at Yale University, and the University of London, and was a fellow at the University of London in 1986.

Literature awards

Emecheta won several literature honors and received numerous other academic honours. Some of the awards include the John Combell Award, New Statesman, Best of Young British Novelists.

In recognition of her remarkable work and as an African professor of literature, in September 2004, she appeared in the historic "A Great Day in London" photograph taken at the British Library, featuring 50 Black and Asian writers who have made major contributions to contemporary British literature.

Buchi indeed leaves an indelible mark and a great legacy, which will continue to inspire future generations. May she rest in perpetual peace.

Social media users have been sending their condolences messages:

Good night #BuchiEmecheta. You've done your bit. Thanks for the gems you wrote. They've inspired. Always been proud to share a name with you

- Emecheta's Buchi (@buchionyegbule) January 25, 2017

All the things Buchi Emecheta questioned, fought, wrote about, stood up for... are still with us today. As we mourn her, let's make 'em right

- Juliet 'Kego (@julietkego) January 25, 2017

The Joys of Motherhood was a masterpiece. Rest in peace Buchi Emecheta. pic.twitter.com/vE0iyoLj6L

- BookHub.ng (@BookHubNG) January 25, 2017

Emecheta was on the Granta Magazine 80s future novelist stuff with them Amis & McEwan. It is a cold day for literature.

- Eyan Freud (@ajayidami) January 26, 2017

Buchi Emecheta, thank you for sharing your gift with the world.I found gold when I read 'The Joys of Motherhood.' Still gold. RIP.

- Ayag Bauta (@YaggyBeee) January 26, 2017

Truly saddened to learn about the passing of Buchi Emecheta. I've only read 1 book by her (slave girl). Thoroughly enjoyed it. RIP

- THO_KO (@obinze_akhumzee) January 26, 2017

"Buchi Emecheta" you were one great write Thank you for gifting us with "THE JOYS OF MOTHERHOOD"

- Oluwapelumi Alabi (@chanaAlabi) January 26, 2017

Today we mourn! We will always be thankful for your voice, and the gift of your writing. RIP Buchi Emecheta . pic.twitter.com/D5iX8bp8uP

- AkeArts&BookFestival (@akefestival) January 26, 2017


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