The Joys of Motherhood

by: Buchi Emecheta

Important Quotations Explained

3. She had been trying to be traditional in a modern urban setting. It was because she wanted to be a woman of Ibuza in a town like Lagos that she lost her child. This time she was going to play according to the new rules.

In Chapter 7, soon after Oshia is born, Nnu Ego reflects on her conduct and actions during Ngozi’s infancy and early death. The pressure of tending to her new child and maintaining her market stall proved to be too much. Nnu Ego feels that the all-encompassing dual roles of mother and provider directly led to her baby’s death, even though these roles were expected of her. Traditionally, Ibuza women were the providers, but in the new world and economic order of Lagos, men have become the family’s sole economic source. Nnu Ego concludes that they are living now in a “white man’s world,” where supporting the family is the man’s duty. With the breakdown of the traditional family order, without an extended clan of parents and grandparents to assist with child rearing, the full burden of child care falls to the mother. Nnu Ego concludes that in order to ensure the health and livelihood of her son, she must embrace the changes her new life in Lagos have forced on her. She forgoes the extra income her selling and trading would bring in to dutifully fulfill what she believes is her greater and more valuable role as mother and nurturer.