Google celebrates Flora Nwapa post-humous 86th birthday
Fondly called Flora Nwapa, famous Nigerian Novelist, Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa was regarded as the forerunner to a generation of African women writers. She has been acknowledged as the first African woman novelist to be published in the English language in Britain. She achieved international recognition when her first novel Efuru was published in 1966 by Heinemann Educational Books.
Nwapa was born on 13 January 1931. She died on October 16, 1993. She was an Igbo woman known as the mother of modern African Literature. In her days, Nwapa never considered herself a feminist. But she was best known for recreating life and traditions from an Igbo woman’s viewpoint. In her distinct artistic manner, she was known for her governmental work in reconstruction after the famous Biafran War.
In particular, she worked with orphans and refugees who were displaced during the war. Further she worked as a publisher of African literature and promoted women in African society. She was one of the first African women publishers when she founded Tana Press in the 1970s.
Nwapa was born in Oguta in South Eastern Nigeria. She was the eldest of six children of Christopher Ijeoma, an agent with the United Africa Company and Martha Nwapa, a teacher of drama.
Flora Nwapa attended schools in Oguta, Port Harcourt and Lagos. She weant on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College, Ibadan in 1957. Later on, she she earned a Diploma in Education from Edinburgh University, Scotland in 1958.
Nwapa joined the Ministry of Education in Calabar as an Education Officer until 1959 after returning to Nigeria. She then took employment as a teacher at Queen’s School in Enugu, where she taught English and Geography from 1969 to 1971. She continued to work in both education and the civil service in several positions, including as Assistant Registrar, University of Lagos from 1962 to 1967.
And when you think she’s done with service, Nwapa still had a lot to offer. After the Nigerian civil war that lasted for three years from 1967 to 1970, she accepted cabinet office as Minister of Health and Social Welfare in East Central State from 1970–71, and subsequently as Minister of Lands, Survey and Urban Development from 1971 to 1974.
When it came to writing and publishing, Nwapa also threw her around. Her first book, Efuru, was published in 1966, a pioneering work as an English-language novel by an African woman writer.
It was followed by the novels Idu (1967), Never Again (1975), One is Enough (1981) and Women Are Different (1986). She published two collections of stories — This Is Lagos (1971) and Wives at War (1980) — and the volume of poems Cassava Song and Rice Song (1986). She was also the author of several books for children.
In the 1974, she founded Tana Press and in 1977 the Flora Nwapa Company, publishing her own adult and children’s literature as well as work by other writers. Her objectives for founding her Tana Press was “to inform and educate women all over the world, especially Feminists (both with capital F and small f) about the role of women in Nigeria, their economic independence, their relationship with their husbands and children, their traditional beliefs and their status in the community as a whole”.
Tana has been described as “the first press run by a woman and targeted at a largely female audience. A project far beyond its time at a period when no one saw African women as constituting a community of readers or a book-buying demographic.”
During her later years, Nwapa’s career as an educator continued throughout her life and encompassed teaching at colleges and universities internationally, including at the University of Ilorin, New York University, University of Minnesota and University of Michigan.
Nwapa focused on both rural and the urban woman in her quest for survival in a fast-changing world dominated by men in her writings. At the age of 62, she died from pneumonia on October 16 1993 in Enugu, Nigeria.
Even though she’s long gone, her legacy lives on as young writers refer to her many works and focus on keeping her dream of empowering women alive. Happy Post Humous Birthday to one of the greatest woman Nigeria has ever produced.