The Nigerian novelist and playwright Buchi Emecheta has passed on at the age of 72. Born in 1944, the much beloved icon was one of the most influential black writers of the latter half of the twenty-first century.
Often described as “the first successful black woman novelist living in Britain after 1948,” she made her debut with the 1972 novel In the Ditch, but is most famous for The Joys of Motherhood (1979), Second-Class Citizen (1974), The Bride Price (1976), Destination Biafra (1982), and the Jock Campbell Award-winning The Slave Girl (1977). She was the author of more than twenty books, including the autobiography Head Above Water (1986) and children’s books. A critic also, she made indelible impact on the feminist discourse, particularly with her widely-quoted essay, “Feminism with a Small ‘f!’ Criticism and Ideology,” while also refusing to describe herself as “feminist.”
“I will work towards the liberation of women,” she is quoted as saying, “but I am not a feminist, I’m just a woman.” She also noted: “Black women all over the world should re-unite and re-examine the way history has portrayed us.”
Her other novels include: The Moonlight Bride (1976), Our Own Freedom (1981), Naira Power (1982), The Rape of Shavi (1984), Double Yoke (1983), A Kind of Marriage (1986), Gwendolen (1989), Kehinde (1994), The New Tribe (1999).
News of her passing has drawn an outpouring of kind and celebratory remarks about the author her work.
Award winning novelist Chimamanda Adichie shared a short poem on Facebook in which she calls attention to Emecheta’s pioneering role.
We are able to speak because you first spoke.
Thank you for your courage.
Thank you for your art.
Nodu na ndokwa.
“We have lost a rare gem,” the president of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Denja Abdullahi, said. “It is a sad loss for our circle. She was known for championing the female gender and we would forever miss her.”
Post image via Black British Women Writers