5 times Buchi Emecheta taught us the importance of being
About the late novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote; We are able to speak because you first spoke. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your art. Nodu na ndokwa and with this, we completely agree.
Buchi Emecheta gave us all a voice, taught us about the potency of our opinions, about how important it was to speak and most importantly to be.
As we say goodbye to one of the greatest novelists of all time, we have compiled a list of five times she taught us about the indefatigable effort of being.
1. When she left her husband Sylvester Onwordi, to whom she had been engaged from the age of 11 when he refused to read her first novel – In the Ditch– and burnt the manuscript. About this she said; I was the typical African woman, I’d done this privately, I wanted him to look at it, approve it and he said he wouldn’t read it.”
2.When she described her stories as “stories of the world…[where]… women face the universal problems of poverty and oppression, and the longer they stay, no matter where they have come from originally, the more the problems become identical.
3. When she defined her feminism; I work toward the liberation of women, but I’m not feminist. I’m just a woman. Black women all over the world should re-unite and re-examine the way history has portrayed us.
4. When she questioned religion in Second Class Citizen; 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?”
5. When she made the woman quote inthat touched the world; God, when will you create a woman who will be fulfilled in herself, a full human being, not anybody’s appendage?
In a tribute on The Guardian, publisher of SableLit Mag Kadija Sesay had this to say about Buchi; Her fictionalised life story showed women that they could survive and succeed through adversity and abuse and stand up for feminism – all without using those actual words.
On our own part we say that Emecheta displayed the kind of feminism that was not only learned, but experienced, the kind that one had to somehow feel to properly talk about, and more importantly the kind she greatly hammered to not be feminism.
To simply be being a woman, a woman who felt, who hurt, who decided to speak, to change her narratives, to repair the broken parts of her soul and that to this day remains the core of feminism, repairing that which society has carefully destroyed, accepting there is a problem with the way gender is viewed today and resolving to fix it, to talk about it, to do something about it.