Why We Love Her: Buchi Emecheta said she started writing to stay sane while being a wife and mother in a foreign country. What started as a coping mechanism has led to a great career. She has written 20 novels, essays and radioplays. Her writing focuses on traditional Igbo culture, sexual politics and racial prejudice. The latter, she experienced especially when moving to the UK in 1962 to join her then husband. It was a tumultuous marriage and the first manuscript of The Bride Price, her husband burnt. She has described her work as “womanist literature.” It explores the complexities of intersecting multiple identities, place and placelessness, and tradition clashing with modernity.
Men here are too busy being white men’s servants to be men. We
women mind the home. Not our husbands. Their manhood has been taken away from them. The shame is that they don’t know it. – Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood
Although she tackles serious subject matter she manages to add levity to all her books with use of expressive dialect and wry humour. Most of her protagonists are memorable women, like Aku-nna, from The Bride Price, intelligent and vulnerable, loving a man in defiance of the caste system, Ogbanje in The Slave Girl, who tries to become the master of her own destiny, despite the odds and Kehinde (the titular character) grappling with guilt and the spirit of her dead twin.
She is widely acclaimed and was awarded an OBE in 2005 by the British government for her contribution to literature as well as bringing to the forefront the lived experience of Black-British citizens.
“One thing she did know was the greatest book on human psychology is the Bible. If you were lazy and did not wish to work, or if you had failed to make your way in society, you could always say, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ If you were a jet-set woman who believed in sleeping around, VD or no VD, you could always say Mary Magdalene had no husband, but didn’t she wash the feet of Our Lord? Wasn’t she the first person to see our risen saviour? If, in the other hand, you believed in the inferiority of the blacks, you could always say, ‘Slaves, obey your masters.’ It is a mysterious book, one of the greatest of all books, if not the greatest. Hasn’t it got all the answers?”
― Buchi Emecheta,