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Emecheta's work:
Second Class Citizen

She writes about her experiences in the book Second Class Citizen in the person of Ada. Buchi and Ada were considered second class citizens ( people without value) at that time in the 1960s both because they were women and because they were Black.
As a girl, Ada - like Emecheta herself - had fewer choices than boys and was considered less important in traditional Ibo culture. In the opening pages of Second Class Citizen, Emecheta describes Adah's dream of going to the United Kingdom - and her place in the community as just a girl...

...she was a girl...

Like Buchi Emecheta, Adah has a dream - a dream of going to paradise, the United Kingdom - which her father has praised all through her childhood as 'the Kingdom of God', for her it was the Promised Land.

"I still like the first part of Second Class Citizen where I thought the United Kingdom was the Kingdom of God but when I came here I thought 'oh my god, papa, that England is not the kingdom of God we thought it is', and I think I made this statement there : 'if I'd been Jesus I would pass England by , I wouldn't leave a single blessing' - because it was cold, it was damp, everything was dirty - so that part just came from the heart."
Buchi Emechetta

Other themes: writing her life
Many of Emecheta's books seem to be heavily influenced by her own experiences and real events - but she didn't start out with the intention of writing about her life:

"the first book I wrote was The Bride Price which was a romantic book, but my husband burnt the book when he saw it. I was the typical African woman, I'd done this privately, I wanted him to look at it, approve it and he said he wouldn't read it. And later he burnt the book and I think by that time this urge to write had become more important to me than he realised, and that was the day I said I'm going to leave this marriage and he said "what for, that stupid book" and I said "I just feel you just burn my child""
Buchi Emecheta

"Francis was burning her story"

She dedicates Second Class Citizen to her children "without whose sweet background noises this book would not have been written" . She describes sitting at her typewriter in the kitchen, surrounded by young children and mess - for her children and creativity are strongly linked..

"so at that time, because of the noises and things, for one reason or the other we were all in the kitchen. I always value my large kitchen because it was better to do everything there, you wash up, you do everything, rather than messing up another room and I pop my typewriter just next to it. So I still write now but I was doing more writing when the children were younger."
Buchi Emecheta

publication details

Second Class Citizen (1975), Heinemann International Literature
The Slave Girl: A Novel (1980), Heinemann International Literature
Bride Price (1980), Heinemann International Literature

life events
key influences and themes
Emecheta's work
the next chapter
being a woman writer
  Women Writers
  Ama Ata Aidoo
  Meena Alexander
  Maya Angelou
  Shashi Deshpande
  Margaret Drabble
  Jamaica Kincaid
  Doris Lessing
  Bharati Mukherjee
  Michele Roberts
  Helen Simpson

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