My major literary icon and motivator, Chinua Achebe, had impressed it on me that I should never attempt to forget where the rain started to beat me.
Though I had not the privilege of meeting Achebe one on one, I had construed that injunction to imply, among several other meanings, that gratitude, whether explicit or implicit, is an indisputable raison d'etre.
For those of us who read English and Literary Appreciation, our expression of gratitude can not, in any way, be said to have a complete cycle without mentioning Buchi Emecheta.
Born on 21st July, 1944 to the Emecheta parents of Ibusa, Delta Igbo, though living in Lagos, Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta had her first baptism of gender discrimination when her father , Jeremy, refused to send her to school in preference to her brother.
Despite the tenderness of her age, Buchi, as she later became known in the international literary circle, courageously and brilliantly convinced her father that her education would be a boost to their family. Subsequently, Buchi was sent to school though she lost her father who worked in the Nigerian Railway Corporation only when she was nine.
After completing her secondary education in an all-girls' Methodist College on full scholarship, Buchi got married at the age of sixteen to her heartthrob, Sylvester onwordi, whom she had been engaged to at the too early age of eleven.
On successful completion of her secondary education in 1960, she joined her husband who had earlier travelled to the United Kingdom for higher education.
Though she had had five children for Sylvester, she was compelled by unendurable marital circumstances to quit the union, forcing her to become a single parent, with all the burden; pecuniary, social and psychological, that arise from single parenthood in far away UK.
Her challenges not withstanding, she was able to graduate in sociology in 1974, at the age of 30 and as a mother of five, from the University of London.
Because of her experiences as a member of the segregated sex, she devoted almost all her time and energy to writing.
She wrote well over twenty novels that were published, including In The Ditch, Second-Class Citizen(1974) The Bride Price(1976), The Slave Girl(1977) and The Joy of Motherhood(1979).
Her themes of child slavery, motherhood , female independence and freedom through education had won her considerable critical acclaim and honours, including an order of The British Empire.
She worked herself to being a visiting Professor to many Universities in Europe, America and even our own University of Calabar.
Buchi Emecheta, OBE, devoted her time, out of personal experience, fighting societal injustice against women, especially the Girl-Child.
She was a defender and motivator of the women folk.
I am sure she did not motivate only women. Many of us who were exposed to her writings at an early age were equally influenced by her writings and stand for decent treatment of the female folk. Today, where ever I find myself, I insist that the Woman must be accorded her due respect.
Buchi Emecheta passed on Wednesday, 25th January, 2017 in London, at the age of approximately 73.
Though gone, I believe her memories would endure. It is my hope that women, from all walks of life, would join in appreciating this great Champion of women liberation and freedom from any facet of segregation, discrimination and degradation.
May her soul find peace in the presence of God Almighty.
Adieu Buchi Emecheta, OBE!
Adieu The Champion of Her Sex!!
Adieu The Great Scholar!!!
Okwubunka of Asa.