“I usually make sure that my stories are from Africa or my own background so as to highlight the cultural background at the same time as telling the story.”
Some of the things that make inspirational women inspirational include overcoming hardships and succeeding despite nearly impossible odds. Nigerian author Buchi Emecheta OBE writes what she knows, and has 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.”
Engaged to be married by age 11 and a child bride with a child of her own by the time she was 17, she left Nigeria and her native Igbo culture to follow her husband to England. There, after having four more children within five years, she left her husband, choosing the difficult life of a single mother. His response to her having written her first book was to burn it after refusing to read it. She began attending University when she was 22, earning a degree in sociology while working at a library and caring for her five young children. She was already in the league of inspirational women at that young age.
Upon graduating, she then worked for several years as a youth worker and sociologist before becoming a community worker. While those accomplishments alone would qualify her as an inspirational woman, she went on to become the author of more than 20 books, winning critical acclaim in the form of the Order of the British Empire in 2005. After having achieved success as an author, she became a lecturer and visiting professor at several universities in the United States, including Rutgers University. This allowed her to combine her writing with the oral story-telling tradition of her native Nigerian culture.
The Joys of Motherhood
One of her most popular books, “The Joys of Motherhood“, was originally published in 1979. The 2nd edition of this work of literary fiction was published in 2013. The book explores the value multi-culture places on motherhood as compared to the value it places on women as individuals. A literary analysis of the book raises many issues surrounding motherhood, such as social status, economic security, familial obligations and competition between women.
Examining the many complex reasons that women choose to become mothers, several more layers of complexity are added by the vast differences in the political and geographic environments the protagonist must adapt to, as well as the power of foreign influence. Some of her other books with similar themes include Second-Class Citizen (1974), The Bride Price (1976), and The Slave Girl (1977). She’s also written several plays for the BBC.
Her literary accomplishments are not the only things that qualify her as one of the world’s most inspirational women, though. In addition to having lectured at Yale University and the University of London, she has also lectured at the University of Calabar in Nigeria. She returns to Nigeria for three to six months each year, where she supports 31 extended family members. Because she wanted to help other black authors give voice to their experiences, she and her son Sylvester, a journalist, established the Ogwugwu Afor Publishing Company in 1982.
While she has been criticized by her some African male writers, who say that her work has been contaminated by European views, she remains dedicated to giving expression to aspects of both her native Nigerian and her adopted British cultures. Many feel that in order to achieve real understanding of the work of a writer within its cultural context, it’s necessary to first familiarize oneself with some cultural background. This can be especially helpful when reading works that deal with the challenges presented by cultural assimilation.
However, despite the differences in cultures, this author’s most important qualification as one of the world’s inspirational women is that her message of hope for women’s equality through cooperation rather than competition is universal.