Kehinde: Mother, Woman Identity Formation in Buchi Emecheta’s ‘Kehinde’

In Kehinde, Buchi Emecheta used brutal ‘documentary-style’ realism to showcase the plights of women in patriarchal societies, and often, the question that lay beneath was, what would our world be if women were freed from toxic gender roles?

Editor’s note: This essay is available in print in our latest issue on The Life and Legacy of Buchi Emecheta. Buy the issue here.

read my first Buchi Emecheta novel, The Joys of Motherhood, when I was 12 years old. Life as the fourth of five daughters ensured that my understanding of the constraints society imposed on women’s lives was well developed—my ability to extract nuanced meaning from the written word less so. I absorbed the story of Nnu Ego, a Nigerian woman who would drape her body over broken glass to provide a softer path for her children’s fragile soles. This was how I remembered her, as symbolic of the lesson learned (‘Don’t be like Nnu Ego’) , although I had no real understanding of which decisions had to be undone to alter her fate...

This essay features in our latest print issue, ‘The Triumph of Buchi Emecheta’ and is only available to paying subscribers. To subscribe, buy a subscription plan here from $1.99 / month (students) and $5.99 / month (non-students). Already a subscriber? log in.