The Joys of Motherhood

by: Buchi Emecheta

Important Quotations Explained

5. God, when will you create a woman who will be fulfilled in herself, a full human being, not anybody’s appendage? she prayed desperately.

Nnu Ego poses this question in her prayer in Chapter 15. As an Ibo mother, Nnu Ego is expected to arm her sons for the future, at the expense of her daughters. Society views the girls as having little worth, valuable only for the bride price they will one day fetch when their marriage is arranged. Without the context of marriage and the family, an Ibo woman has neither an identity nor an inherent worth beyond the production of the next generation. However, in the new economic and social order of Lagos, both men’s and women’s roles change. Nnu Ego anticipates the day when individual women will be of prime importance, rather than simply being vehicles that serve and aid the collective at the expense of the self. Nnu Ego views the traditional role of Ibo women as amounting to a qualified or partial life. Rather than lives of sacrifice, Nnu Ego hopes women can achieve lives of satisfaction and self-fulfillment. In Nnu Ego’s world, women are seen as tools, or as appendages that simply extend men’s will. The traditional Ibo family construct demands that women deny or downplay personal fulfillment and self-realization in service to the group-oriented duties they are expected to perform.