Saturday, December 10, 2011

Buchi Emecheta: A Short Biography


Buchi Emecheta was born in Lagos in 1944. Although young Buchi was a brilliant child while in school, she did not have a smooth life as a child. Her brilliance and intelligence won her scholarship to the then prestigious Methodist Girl’s High School at the age of ten; but after the death of her father things began to fall apart for Buchi and the family. So when she was 17 Buchi was forced, due to circumstances beyond her control, to marry and had a child. Her marriage was not a happy one: there was always a misunderstanding between Buchi and her husband.


In 1960 Buchi Emecheta moved to London to join her husband who had gone there to study Accounting. Things were more difficult for her in London. She later opted out of the marriage to save herself from the ceaseless battering from her husband. But in spite of her marital challenges, Buchi proved a strong woman when she worked hard and earned herself an Honours Degree in Sociology. In this way, she was able to work as a social worker in London while she single-handedly fended for her five children. Rather than be drowned by the challenges before her, Buchi Emecheta saw freedom and self-expression in writing; so she began to write to complement her job so as to enable her to adequately support her family. She wrote very early in the morning every day before she went to work. Little wonder then that most of Buchi Emecheta’s writings are based on her personal experiences.  

Buchi Emecheta became a full-fledged writer when she published her very first novel, In the Ditch (1972) – a detail of her experience as a single parent in London. Then in 1974 her second novel titled Second Class Citizen came out. This novel also has London as its setting. After these two novels are The Bride PriceThe Slave Girl and The Joys of Motherhood published in 1976, 1977 and 1979 respectively. Among all of these The Joys of Motherhood seems the most popular. In 1982 Emecheta felt the need to pass her own comments on the Nigerian civil war; so she produced Destination Biafra. The indefatigable Emecheta did not stop at that. She wrote other interesting novels which include Double Yoke (1983), The Rape of Shavi (1983), Gwendolen (1989) and Kehinde (1994).

Besides the novel Buchi Emecheta also wrote a number of children stories, an autobiography—Head Above Water (1986), a radio play titled A Kind of Marriage (1986), and several critical essays.

Indeed, Buchi Emecheta is one of the most remarkable writers Nigeria can boast of. Her contributions to the annals of writing in Nigeria will never be forgotten.