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And There Goes a Literary Amazon!: Buchi Emecheta (1944-2017)

 

 

 

The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) joins the global literary community to mourn the passing to eternal glory of one of Africa's gifted authors and champions of girls-related issues Buchi Emecheta who died in her home in London at the age of 72. Author of several novels and short stories including In the Ditch, The Joys of Motherhood, Second-class Citizen, The Slave Girl, The Bride Price, Hello and Yes, Head Above Water( an autobiography) and many others, Buchi  as she was popularly called devoted her creative attention to telling natural stories that perhaps emerged out of her experience as a mother, single parent, foreigner in the U.K (since 1960), and a nascent woman in a changing Igbo society. Born in Lagos and trained as a librarian and later sociologist at the University of London, Buchi Emecheta, whose commitment to women issues especially the advancement of the interest and perspective of the girl child in centre-stage attention in her works without subscribing to feminist appellation left many stunned when she subscribed to an Africanist perspective of womanhood by asserting that: "I work towards the liberation of the woman but I'm not feminist. I'm just a woman." Her perspective was to later embolden and spur up other African women to orchestrate their commitment to advancing the  need for equity for women in all spheres without necessarily being feminists in the actualities of a western context. This also orchestrated the birth of the womanist theory and advocacy in the literary space and the domestication of feminism within the ambience of womanism. A committed writer and a master story teller, Buchi Emecheta has left a loaded basket of books and literary materials widely recommended and in use in different parts of the world.

She has taught in both permanent and visiting capacity in universities across the world also making out time in the process to teach master classes in creative writing and conducting workshops in literature in several part of the world. In this capacity, it will be recalled that she honored the Association of Nigerian Authors' invitation to host a workshop in prose fiction writing during the annual international convention of the Association in Asaba, Delta State in 2002. She served in several literary assessment panels and notably served as one of the judges in the panel that awarded the Caine Prize in African Writing to Helon Habila in 2001. Buchi Emecheta inspired many writers, creative persons, scholars and pointed the way to creating stories with immense domestic aesthetics, yet still situating the African story telling arts in a context that gave a nuanced use of language and masterful creation of suspense. She writes from her heart and retained the virtuoso of the mother figure actively nurturing both the home and creative fronts. As a visiting professor in the Department of English and Literary Studies at the University of Calabar, Nigeria, Buchi Emecheta not only trained students in writing but also used her avid exploration of the South Eastern flanks  of Nigeria to build vast bodies of stories that later turned into novelettes and short story collections.  She teamed up with the likes of Prof Ernest Emenyonu to develop an important creative writing enclave that produced and continue to produce many vibrant creative writers and a long standing literary conférence.

 Her contributions to Nigerian, African and world literature remains outstanding and astounding, leaving a massive canvas of a single woman's resolve to build an empire of stories that touches humanity from different angles. ANA feels deeply touched by her departure coming again within brittle distance of other monumental passages within our immediate literary universe. Why are we so blest? For in these passages are the iconic signposts of a nation that has been endowed and blessed with so many creative minds. So let her passage and by extension their passages bring us yet again into remembering that ours is a heritage of flowing inks and restless hands.

The leadership and the entire membership of the association therefore extends sincere  condolences to Emecheta's immediate and extended family, the global literary community and indeed all friends of our literary heritage. ANA chapters are hereby called upon to organize and stage commemorative creative events in her honor as the Association will later identify and execute various activities that will immortalize one of Africa's greatest daughters, mothers and creative spirits.  Adieu, Buchi!
 
Mallam Denja Abdullahi                                                 
National President