The Joys of Motherhood

by: Buchi Emecheta

Oshia

Characters Oshia

Oshia, Nnu Ego’s oldest surviving son, is an emblem of the new order, the next generation that would alter the nature of modern Nigerian society. However, he is not a radical figure, out to break entirely with traditional modes or to topple the institution of the family. Through most of his formative years, he is the ideal and dutiful son, fulfilling the high hopes Nnu Ego cherishes of the honor and comfort he will eventually bestow on her. Although he and his brother, Adim, obediently tend the family stall in the marketplace, they later lament the time they were forced to sacrifice from pursuing their studies. Caught between two worlds, Oshia must live up to the expectations his parents place on him while satisfying his own desire to better himself through education.

Oshia’s ambition and intelligence eventually overpower his obligations to the traditional order. He represents a general shift in Nigerian society as new influences and new options became available to Ibos such as Nnaife. Oshia chooses his own individual destiny over his responsibilities to the collective, which makes him a failure and a disappointment to his parents. Ironically, while Oshia works as a research scientist and wins a scholarship to study in the United States, his academic achievements do not make up for his failure to remain in Lagos to support his family. Still, Oshia never completely turns his back on his origins. He honors his culture and pays homage to the sacrifices his mother made by funding an elaborate funeral service for her.