First-Class Citizen

Day 4: Write about someone who inspires you.

The first time I read The Joys of Motherhood, I must have been about eight or nine years old. I was staying at my grandmother’s and I had found her old, torn copy of the book. I remember as I rushed through the pages, I was amused at the irony in the title as the motherhood in the book was not very joyous.

Years later I would come to learn about the author, Buchi Emecheta, this woman who defied such odds, who refused to let life’s difficulties dim her lights.

Born in Nigeria, she got married at the age of sixteen, and moved to the UK when she was eighteen. Her writer’s journey began during a marriage blighted by spousal violence, as she would write stories to keep her sanity. Her husband was highly suspicious of her writing that he burned the manuscript of her first novel, The Bride Price, which she rewrote and published years later.

Now 22, she escaped her marriage into the slums of London to battle poverty, alone and pregnant with a fifth child. She was free, but the picture she cut looked nothing like victory. A poor Igbo woman – trudging London streets in 1960s Britain, clutching the hand of one or more of the five children she had, who she was raising alone.

In the midst of it all, she imposed a regimen on herself to write between 4am and 6am every morning and produce 2,000 words a day.

Talk. About. Badass.

By the time of her death in 2017, the result of her unflinching regimen was 20 novels and plays for TV, plays for radio, children’s books, essays, and an autobiography. Her writing has been praised for highlighting the realities of black women experiences, race, gender constructs and poverty.

Last year on what would have been her 75th birthday, July 21, 2019, my heart blossomed with joy, as Google celebrated her with a Doodle, a symbol confirming her status as a global icon of literature and a declaration that her legacy belongs to the whole world.

A first-class citizen.

Thanks for reading dearly distinguished. Who inspires you?


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