It is not only important to read African-American literature but is also important to read African literature. I have explored reading Nigerian books during lockdown and some of these are suggested below. It gave me a different insight of what it meant to be a Black female in Nigeria and the culture that comes with it and what it means to be a Black female from Nigeria living either in the UK or the US.
1. In The Ditch By Buchi Emecheta
Set in the late 1960s in London, a young and lonely Nigerian mother is determined to create a better life for herself and her children against all odds. This book is clever and sharp. It is an interesting insight at the Welfare State and the British underclass in the era which is still relevant today.
2. Second-class citizen by Buchi Emecheta
This is a story of a Nigerian woman who overcomes strict tribal expectations of women and constant adversities to achieve an independent life for herself and her children. The reader is exposed to the inner self of the main character. The thoughts she dares not to say out loud, her hopes and dreams, her fears and words she dares not to scream.
3. The Bride Price by Buchi Emecheta
A Nigerian girl is allowed to complete her education because an substantial educational will enhance her bride price, but she rebels against traditional marriage customs. This book covers child marriage, young girls dying in labour, violence against women, traditional kidnapping as a form of legal marriage and so on. This book criticizes African culture and practice, gender roles and societal views.
4. The Slave Girl by Buchi Emecheta
An orphaned young Nigerian girl is sold into domestic slavery to a tight surrogate family who obligated to obey their master’s commands. As she grows into a woman, she began to discover the need for a home and family and for freedom and identity she realises that she must choose her own path. Through dialogue and storytelling, the reader is transported into a different world following the journey of this young lady.
5. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
A Nigerian woman focuses all her energy money and everything she has to raise her children, leaving little time for herself or for a social life. This book captivated from the start, the story of hope, heartache, and change.
6. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This book reflects on what does feminism mean today. A personal and eloquent essay, Adichie provides readers a unique definition of feminism in the twenty-first century. One grounded in inclusion and awareness. She shines light on overt discrimination and institutional behaviour that marginalizes women around the world. Throughout, she draws on her personal experiences in America, Nigeria and abroad.
7. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The book re-creates a signification era in Nigeria history: Biafran’s struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria during the 60s and the violence that followed. Epic, Amazing and Chilling people’s lives have been changed through the civil war.
8. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu heads to America from Nigeria for academic success and she is forced to struggle with the colour of her skin for the first time. Her lover Obinze had hoped to join her but the United States closed to him post 9/11, he then lived in London illegally. Fifteen years later, they reunited and rekindled their love in Nigeria. This book on themes such as immigration, race, politics of the natural mess, interracial relationships, what it means to live home and to return. It engages the reader to widely explore the world around us.
Happy reading : )