One of Africa’s most celebrated writers, Buchi Emecheta has died. The novelist died yesterday in her sleep at her home in London at the age of 72.
Florence Onyebuchi “Buchi” Emecheta was born in 1944, a time when there was a gender bias towards women.
While she stayed at home, her younger brother was allowed to go to school. Buchi’s dream of becoming a writer came alive through an older aunt who told her stories during dinner.
Opportunity came, when a year after her father died, she received a full scholarship to attend the Methodist Girls School.
Buchi got engaged to her husband, Sylvester Onwordi when she was 11 years old and got married to him at 16years. In 1960, the couple relocated to London and the marriage had five children within six years.
Through some of her books, Buchi revealed that her marriage was a violent one as her husband was abusive.
In fact, her first book, “The Bride Price” was burnt by her husband and she had to write another one in 1976.
Buchi left her husband at the age of 22. While working to care for her 5 children, she earned a BSc degree in Sociology at the University of London.
Her writing explored topics such as child marriage, single motherhood, and women abuse.
As a celebrated and successful author, she travelled far and wide, visiting several American universities.
Buchi worked as a library officer for the British Museum in London; a youth worker and sociologist for the Inner London Education Authority and then in 1976, she worked as a community worker.
Buchi became senior resident fellow and visiting professor of English, University of Calabar, Nigeria in 1980.
In 1982, she lectured at Yale University, and the University of London, as well as holding a fellowship at the University of London in 1986.
Some of her books include, The Joys of Motherhood (1979), Second-Class Citizen (1974), The Bride Price (1976) and The Slave Girl (1977)
She published over 20 books, including children’s fiction. She also wrote numerous plays for the BBC and several articles published in journals all over the world.
Buchi Emecheta won several awards like the Jock Campbell Award from the New Statesman in 1979. She was Granta magazine’s 1983 list of “Best of the Young British Novelists”.
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.
In 2005, she was made an Order of the British Empire. Buchi wrote about feminist struggle, but didn’t describe herself as one.
Her work has inspired and paved way for many Nigerian women writers and author.