You might ask yourself, “is there anything most mothers wouldn’t do for their child’s wellbeing, success, and happiness”? The answer is a resounding no.
To commemorate Mother’s Day (USA) and in memory of the late Buchi Emecheta, I took some time to re-read this text.
Nnu Ego is a young woman, born to a famous hunter, Agbadi, and his beloved mistress, Ona. Emecheta is elaborate in describing their romance and relationship, culminating in Nnu Ego’s birth. Nnu Ego is born into privilege and raised by a doting father, sadly loosing her mother early. The reader learns of the elaborate and extravagant celebrations that surround Nnu Ego’s first marriage to Amatokwu.
What is life, if not a medley of joys and successes, thrills and disappointments?
Nnu Ego learns this bitter fact early, when her much celebrated marriage fails to deliver as expected. She is unable to conceive, looses the love and interest of her husband, and finally returns back home to her people. Fast forward a bit, and she ends up in Lagos city, another marriage, this time to Nnaife, whom she struggles to respect, love, appreciate.
Most of the book chronicles her life as a wife and mother, raising children, welcoming other wives if reluctantly for the most part, developing a trade. Her struggles match the changing times – Nnaife in the second world war, raising children alone as a single parent, Oshia in America, the twins getting married and having children, her eventual separation from Nnaife soon after his return as a changed man, return back to the village after decades in the city. Throughout it all, her fierce dedication to the wellbeing of her children is never in doubt.
I find it really sad how Nnu Ego dies alone, by the roadside, mentally deranged, with no child at her side, no one to hold her hand. However, I applaud Emecheta’s courage in avoiding the oft encountered happy ending characteristic of most fictional works. Although a tragedy in my opinion, this is a great book that sheds light on a family navigating its way in changing times, in early colonial times in Nigeria. Most importantly, it simply celebrates the life of mother.
I hope you will read and enjoy this amazing piece of fiction as much as I did. Click here if you’d like to purchase a copy. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there! May our joys always far surpass our sorrows.
About the author: Florence Onyebuchi “Buchi” Emecheta OBE was born on July 21, 1944, and died recently on January 25, 2017. She was a Nigerian-born British novelist, based in the UK since 1962. She authored several books, some based on her experiences as an immigrant in the UK, but all largely focusing on central themes of motherhood, liberation of a woman through education, and female independence. In 2005, she was made an OBE for services to literature.