4 Reasons Why Buchi Emecheta Is A Nigerian Icon

Posted on October 30 2019 , at 05:58 pm
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  • Despite being pregnant and separated with 4 kids at the age of 22, Buchi Emecheta went on to become one of the most prolific writers of her generation.

Nigerian literary icon Buchi Emecheta. (credit: pambazuka.org)

The odds were stacked against Buchi Emecheta as a black, Igbo woman born in Lagos but living in the UK (she moved there in 1962, aged 16) when the world was much less friendly to black people. Despite being pregnant and separated with 4 kids at the age of 22, Buchi Emecheta went on to become one of the most prolific writers of her generation.  

She also went on to bag a PhD and win several awards, including the prestigious Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the world of literature. 

Here are four more reasons why she is a Nigerian icon: 

She’s A Pioneer Novelist

Google doodle honoring Buchi Emecheta on her post-humous 75th birthday.

According to the BBC’s History Magazine, Buchi Emecheta is one of the pioneer novelists who explored the intersection of race, tradition, feminism and modernity in her works. For this, she was named one of the 100 women who have changed the world. Her novel, The Joys of Motherhood, published in 1979, is regarded as a classic in literary circles. 

She Was On The Caine Prize for African Writing’s Advisory Council

Anyone that knows anything about the literary space will tell you that the Caine Prize for African Writing is one of the most prestigious there is. For more context, all four African winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature have been patrons of the Prize. In other words, you’d have to be one of the best of the best to be of the Prize’s advisory council. 

She’s One Of The Most Celebrated Writers Of Her Time

Buchi Emecheta with the late, great Chinua Achebe. (Credit: Buchiemechata.co.uk)

Over her expansive career, Emecheta wrote 16 novels, 3 children/young adult books, 3 plays, one autobiography and hundreds of articles, picking up several awards and honors along the way. Some of her most celebrated books include: The Joys of Motherhood, The Rape of Shavi, Second Class Citizen and In The Ditch

She Taught At Some Of The Most Prestigious Universities In The World

Following her success as a writer, Buchi Emecheta lectured at several prestigious universities across the world including: Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Yale University, University of London and the University of Calabar. 

With all she accomplished in the literary world as well as her contributions to education in Nigeria and the diaspora, it’s hard to argue with Buchi Emecheta’s legacy. Raise a glass for one of Nigeria’s icons!

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