Sunday, 16 April 2017

Buchi Emecheta: Encomiums For A Literary Amazon

Ever since the news about the passing of literary
Amazon, Florence Onyebuchi (Buchi) Emecheta
late January broke, it’s been accolades from
literary communities both within and outside the
shores of the country. Late Buchi Emecheta In addition to activities organised in her honour,
the Committee For Relevant Arts, CORA,
penultimate weekend, held An Afternoon of
Tributes for the late pioneer of African literature. The afternoon of tributes which featured readings
and discussions around the works of Buchi
Emecheta took place at Terra Kulture, Victoria
Island, Lagos. Featuring three panel of speakers; Sefi Atta, Chika
Unigwe and Molara Wood, the event attracted a
good number of writers and Emecheta’s fans both
those resident in the country as well as those
based abroad. They unanimously praised her
writing prowess and tenacity which have helped in changing the perception of writing as a career. She was accorded more than enough encomium
but the general regret was that she was supposed
to have been celebrated while alive. Delta State-born Buchi Emecheta was a pioneering
female Nigerian novelist who had lived in the UK
since 1960. She died late January 2017 at 72. “With
Second Class Citizen, published in 1976, this
trailblazing writer broached a subject that would
later be generally described as “Diaspora literature.” Aside tributes which dominated the entire event,
the afternoon also saw issues regarding poor
distribution of, or rather, unavailability of books
by African writers for people to read, taking
centre stage at some point. The avoidable scarcity,
a major fault of publishing houses, was generally described as the bane of development of literature
in Africa. Speakers also harped on the importance of
celebrating Nigerian writers and cultural icons
before they pass on. “These writers need to be
documented, while African stories are to be
treasured. Emecheta was a pioneer of African
literature and she changed the game. She is therefore a treasure.” As part of efforts to immortalise the iconic writer,
guests at the event agreed to establish a
foundation in her honour.Sylvester Onwordi, son
of the late Novelist, disclosed that copies of
Emecheta’s books are being printed ahead of their
relaunch later in the year. Prof was incredibly resourceful and had
enormous strength- Sefi Atta Author of Everything Good Will Come, Sefi Atta,
read one of Emecheta’s best selling works titled
Head Above Waters. She described the iconic
female writer as a “Mother and child’s rights activist
who was incredibly resourceful. She had
enormous strength, quite stubborn when it was necessary. Reading Buchi is like listening to an
aunt, a busy aunt actually. Her work is done and
will continue to resonate in African literature.” Prof changed my attitude towards making
money through Literature- Chika Unigwe Belgium-based Nigerian novelist and 2012 winner
of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, Chika Unigwe,
described Emecheta as a guiding light in her
writing career. “Prof changed my attitude towards
my career as a writer especially as regards making
money through writing.” Unigwe read from another of Emecheta’s book
titled 2nd Class Citizen. She hinted that the book
illustrates the author’s tenacity and doggedness. Emecheta was unfairly derided -Molara
Wood Writer and Critic, Molara Wood, who read
excerpts from Emecheta’s Joys of Motherhood,
said Emecheta was not accorded the right place in
African canon. “She represents what pioneer
female writers went through before this generation
of writers. Hers were not stories of victimisation but testimony of the African literature canon. She
was unfairly derided. Its time we accorded these
women their rightful place. The contribution of
female writers to African literature should be
publicised.” Wood noted that Joys of Motherhood was a
response to the ending ofEfuru by Flora Nwapa.

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