Florence Nkiru Nwapa
DATE of BIRTH
January 13th, 1931
DATE of DEATH
October 16th, 1993
University of Ibadan & University of Edinburgh
PLACE OF BIRTH
Oguta, Imo State
When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.
Known as the Mother of Modern African Literature, Flora Nwapa is among the first female African writer to publish in the English-language. Her novel, Efuru (1966) became Africa’s first internationally published English novel and her company Tata Press, is the first publishing company owned by an African female. She was also a respected member in her society, when in 1978, she was conferred the title of “Ogbuefi” (The Cow Killer), a title traditionally given to men who have achieved huge feats in the society.
Flora was born in 1931 in Oguta, Imo State in Eastern Nigeria. She attended University College in Ibadan, Nigeria from 1953–57, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where she obtained a BA degree in 1957 and a diploma in Education in 1958. Flora returned to Nigeria and after the Biafran civil war, she served her community as a commissioner in various ministries in the East Central State. A short semi-autobiographical novel, Never Again (1975), is based on her experiences during the Nigerian civil war. She established the Tata Press and Flora Nwapa Books in Enugu and received the Merit Award for Authorship/Publishing at the University of Ife Book Fair in 1985.
Nwapa is famously known for her two novels, Efuru (1966) and Idu (1970), both set in the early colonial period in the Oguta area of Igboland. The novels examine the issues women faced in traditional society, particularly in relation to their ability to bear children.
Her last two novels however, are set in a modern urban environment; One is Enough (1981) explores the theme of childlessness and women’s economic independence, while in Women Are Different (1986), she insists that women have options other than marriage and motherhood. Although she did not consider herself a feminist, her vision emphasizes the need to liberate women from all forms of fetters tethered to societal standards.
Nwapa continued her career as an educator throughout her life, teaching at colleges and universities around the world including, New York University, Trinity College, University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, and University of Ilorin. She died in 1993 at the age of 62.
Flora was a revolutionary in her own right. She stepped out of the box and did the unimaginable in her day by setting the pace for many female authors in Nigeria and the African continent to have a voice of their own.