Monday, 8 August 2016

What do you know about Flora Nwapa?

Flora Nwapa
The first African woman ever to publish her controversial novel in English, Flora Nwapa, is known throughout the world. She is not only talented in writing but is also an active public person. Her life story is an incredible example of one woman that knew what it meant to be a good mother, a responsible citizen and a female writer that has to overcome a lot of difficulties on her way to the fame.

Flora Nwapa got famous for her Efuru book, but to get there to that point in her biography she had to overcome many difficulties. Let’s take a closer look at her biography. She was born back in 1931 in Oguta which is in Imo State. Her family belonged to a wealthy class who has the certain power in their circles. Even though her parents were just teachers, they were highly respected, and their opinions were highly valued.

Flora was their first-born child, and later she had five siblings. Being the oldest in her family influenced her life a lot. She learned what it meant to take good care of the younger ones, and that is how she learned to be a good mother later. Moreover, she knew from her mother who spent much time with her daughter teaching her what it meant to be a woman, and that’s how she turned into being a very bright and strong personality.

She started going to school in Oguta and Lagos. Looking at her parents and their beliefs, Flora Nwapa came to a conclusion that she wants to study Education. That is why she entered the University of Ibadan and spent four years learning geography, languages, and History. After graduation she went to work as a teacher at different schools, them decided to work at the main University of Lagos.

Unfortunately, her further plans were interrupted, as the Civil War came to the place she lived in. During the Civil War, she had to move with her family to the East of the country where she stayed with her family until the war stopped. Many other influential families fled the war the same way, and that is how they escaped all the tragedy it brought into the world.

Being young, she married a man whose name was Chief Gogo Nwakuche. Flora Nwapa was surprised to see that he also took several other women o be his wives. However, being a wise woman she decided not to get a divorce. Even though this situation was quite painful for her, she wanted her children to have both father and mother. That is why she had to swallow her pride and remain married to the man she loved. Flora Nwaka and Nwakuche had three children together. He had his own business; however, the history does not state what kind of business that was.

The first time Flora Nwapa appeared on stage as a writer after her book “Efuru” came out. The author got inspired by an old folklore story she once heard. The story was about a goddess that lived in the sea that once saw a woman and decided to make her a follower. The book attracted much attention in different parts of the world, as it was quite unusual to read about a woman who got the guts to oppose what others would call “fate.” She did not surrender to the decision of the goddess and fought hard. This book made Flora Nwapa a popular author back in 1962 when it first saw the world. Later this book was also published by HEB publishers as a part of their program for Nigerian Authors.

The next book by Flora Nwapa was “Idu”, which tells a story of two people in love. This is a married couple who cannot live without each other. That is why when suddenly the man passes away, his widow goes to find him in the world he went to instead of staying among the living but without him. One more of Flora Nwapa’s books was called “Never Again” which she wrote and dedicated to the Civil War in Nigeria. She was there in the middle of the war tragedies and massive losses; that is why the book is full of pain people suffered from.

Flora Nwapa’s writing path was a long one and quite productive. She never wasted her time, and that is why many of the books and novels by Nwapa came into the world. She is the author of nine books for children, six novels, including the ones mentioned above, a few plays for the theater, several books with her short-stories as well as hundreds of essays and poems. She never got tired of doing what she was doing; that is why we can now enjoy the result of her work. As some specialists claim she was a writer for at least twenty-seven years of her life. Some of the most popular writings of hers are “Wives At War and Other Stories”, “Women Are different”, “Mammywater”, “Journey to Space” and “This Is Lagos and Other Stories”.

However, as a write, Flora Nwapa was very demanding. That is why she often was not happy with the service quality she was provided with by her publishers. Once she got sick and tired of them, she asked her husband to help her and established her publishing company. This company was marked as the first publishing company ever to be founded by a woman in the Western Africa. That was very brave of her, but her efforts paid her back. She initiated the idea of publishing adult fiction at her company, which led to at least eight volumes of this kind of literature published there. After this company had got big enough, she decided to step out and create a new publishing company, which she called after herself.

Unlike common belief, Flora Nwapa was never a feminist. She did not reject the authority of a man and the role of a man and a woman being different where a woman has to submit to her husband. However, she still fought for the rights of men and women to be equal in certain areas. She wanted to see the positive changes in the society she lived in and see how women there can achieve the same level of recognition and support as men do. That is how she stuck to the idea of so-called “womanism” both in her writings and everyday life.

Flora Nwapa, as we already mentioned, was not just a writer. She held an active social position. She helped people that suffered from the war and destruction. She joined the government right after the Civil war in Nigeria and helped children that were left without parents in the course of the military opposition. Moreover, Flora Nwapa helped to reconstruct the homes of the families that had no other place to live in after the War.

After the Nigerian “recovery time” she helped at the Committee that was working with the Urban Development and ways for Nigeria to move and develop in that direction. In the view of both her talent and determination, she was awarded several awards in her own time. Not so long ago, in 1983m she was honored with the Officer of the Order of Niger. This honor is believed the highest in her state. Since Flora Nwapa was helping with the publishing at the University of Ife, she received A Merit Award of the University of Ife. Until the last years of her life, Nwapa was teaching creative writing art at the University of Borno State, and the authorities decided to reward her hard work and dedication with the honor of being a Visiting Professor. She was also one of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes Committee in 1992 as well as a member of the PEN International Committee.

Surprisingly enough, the authorities of her hometown gave her the honor of chieftaincy! This is surprising as this award is usually given to men and she became the first woman ever to receive it. Flora Nwapa had a dazzling life that had the impact on many people around her. She influenced people both as a writer and as a governmental representative. Whatever she did, she tried to make a difference in the life of those who needed it.

Flora Nwapa had an impact through her books. She was a great mother and a bold woman that was not afraid of the obstacles she met on her way to the stars. She passed away in 1993 after she turned 63. The loss of Flora Nwapa was a significant loss not only for her immediate circle but also for the people she cared for so much: orphans of the war, women of Nigeria, her readers and her students. She lived a long life and never wasted her time and talent, knowing that she was there for a reason, and that reason was to make a difference.

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