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Buchi Emecheta, pioneering Nigerian novelist, dies aged 72

ICONIC: Buchi in her earlier years

BUCHI EMECHETA, one of Africa’s most celebrated literary icons and author of the popular novel, The Joys of Motherhood, has died. She reportedly passed away yesterday in her sleep, at the age of 72.

Emecheta had been based in Britain since 1960 and, throughout her career, wrote over 20 books which included a few plays and autobiography about African women’s experiences in Africa and the UK.

The author was born on 21 July 1944 in Lagos, Nigeria, to Igbo parents, Alice (Okwuekwuhe) Emecheta and Jeremy Nwabudinke.

Her father was a railway worker in the 1940s. Due to the gender bias of the time, the young Buchi was initially kept at home while her younger brother was sent to school. However, she eventully managed to persuade her parents to consider the benefits of an education and subsequently spent her early childhood at an all-girl’s missionary school.

Buchi's themes of child slavery, motherhood, female independence and empowerment through learning won her considerable critical acclaim and honours, including an Order of the British Empire in 2005.

Her work was featured on the national curricula of a number of countries across the African continent. As reported by the BBC, the president of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Denja Abdullahi, said: "We have lost a rare gem in this field. Her works would forever live to speak for her".

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