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Flora Nwapa

Flora Nwapa was the first Nigerian novelist to be published and the first woman in Africa to have a book edited in London, making her the precursor of an entire female generation of her race. Thanks to this, she has been recognised as the 'mother of modern African literature.'

Flora Nwapa was a Nigerian writer and professor very well known for her recreation of Igbo life and traditions from a woman´s perspective, as well as the general role of women in society. She was born in Oguta, eastern Nigeria, which was a British Colony at the time. As the daughter of professors, she studied at the University of Idaban and continued her studies in Edimburgh, where she graduated in 1958 with a degree in Education. A year later, she returned to her native land to work as a professor of Geography and English.

During Nigeria´s civil war, which began in 1967, she left Lagos with her family, and after the conflict, worked as the Minister of Health and Social Well-Being, focusing on finding a home for the war´s 2,000 orphans, among other things. Her work has been recognised by a number of international recognitions.

Aside from writing books, she founded Tana Press, the first editorial owned by a black African woman in the entire western region of the continent. Between 1979 and 1981, she edited eight adult fiction volumes, and later opened another editorial company, Flora Nwapa and Co., that specialised in children´s fiction. In these books, Nwapa combined Nigerian elements such as ethical teachings and general morals. Her example urged to reconsider the traditional roles of women/wives, in favour of an egalitarian society, although she preferred to consider herself a "womanist" instead of a "feminist".

Nwapa debuted as a novelist with Efuru, based on the story of a woman chosen by the gods and which questioned the traditional role of women. After losing a son and two unhappy marriages, the heroine never ceases to fight against all the obstacles that block her from being a successful woman. Before then (1962), no books had ever been published by a Nigerian woman, and so after sending her manuscript to Chinua Achebe and following some suggestions, the author herself submitted it to Heinemen Educational Books for publication. Her professional background continued with more than a dozen of publications that included novels, short stories and children´s books. She finished her last manuscript just before her death in 1993: The Lake Goddess.