Head Above Water The Negotiations of Buchi Emecheta

Having been brought up in a culture of storytelling, Buchi Emecheta would have been aware, from a young age, of ways in which her local tradition marginalized women and reinforced male supremacy.

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.

discovered Buchi Emecheta one muggy Saturday morning, sitting behind a long table in the refectory of Uzommiri Study Center, an Opus Dei club for children in Enugu where I grew up, to which I went faithfully every weekend. I believe Uzommiri was only for girls (or maybe boys came on a different day) and our activities often involved arts and craft, games and baking. I don’t recall any of the games we played or the craft we made or what we baked but I remember sitting in front of a screen and being mesmerized by the story of this Nigerian woman in England who was both a single mother and a writer.  In my memory, the documentary showed her children, spread out like tentacles around her. Years later, when I started writing in Belgium as a young mother, I drew strength knowing that Emecheta had done it before me and had done it successfully under more trying circumstances...

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.