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The Joys of Motherhood

The Joys of Motherhood


by Buchi Emecheta

The Joys of Motherhood Characters

Meet the Cast

Nnu Ego

Nnu Ego has one great desire in life: to have children. From the time of her birth, we learn that her chi (personal god) is the slave woman forcibly buried with her father's senior wife. It is impl...

Nnaife Owulum

Nnaife acts tough, but underneath, he struggles with feelings of inferiority. Though he takes pride in his job as a washer man for a white man, and later as a grass cutter for the government, he is...


Adaku's name means "daughter of wealth" and it's an appropriate title for her. Confident and assertive, Adaku travels to Lagos to assert her right as Nnaife's newly acquired wife. (Adaku was the yo...

Nwokocha Agbadi

Agbadi is a minor chief and a wealthy man. He loves proud, arrogant women and falls in love with Ona, an absolutely unattainable woman. (Ona can't get married because her father has decreed it. He...


Ona is a proud, haughty woman who is not allowed to get married. Because her father had no sons, she is supposed to give him sons to carry on the family line. She can have lovers and bear children,...


Oshia is Nnu Ego's second-born son but the first to survive into adulthood. He is clever and does well in school, so well that he's accepted at prestigious (and expensive) high schools. Though his...


After Nnaife returns from his stint in the military, he returns home to Ibuza to assert his right of inheritance with his deceased brother's wives. But his brother's senior wife refuses to come bac...


Adankwo is the senior Owulum's first wife, whom Nnaife inherits. Even though Nnaife has possession of her and all of her children according to Ibo custom, she decides to remain with her family in I...


Adim is Nnaife and Nnu Ego's second living son (third child). His name means "now I am two" in Ibo. The name tells the world that Nnaife has two sons.


Agunwa is Agbadi's senior wife. Agunwa's slave woman is forced to be buried with her, as is the Ibo custom. The slave woman becomes Nnu Ego's chi (personal god) and tormented Nnu Ego for the rest o...


Amatokwu is Nnu Ego's first husband. When Nnu Ego fails to conceive a child, Amatokwu returns her to her father, Agbadi, in exchange for the original bride price. Amatokwu doesn't want to waste tim...


Aremu is Kehinde's (Nnaife and Nnu Ego's daughter) husband.


Ato is Nwakusor's wife.


Cordelia is Ubani's wife and is source of emotional comfort to Nnu Ego during hard times.


Dumbi is Adaku's daughter with Nnaife's elder brother. When the elder brother dies, Nnaife inherits Adaku as well as her daughter, Dumbi.

Iyawo Itsekiri

Iyawo Itsekiri is Nnu Ego's neighbor when she first moves into the small flat after the Meers' compound. Iyawo offers emotional support to Nnu Ego during hard times.


Kehinde is Nnu Ego's second-born twin daughter. (Her twin sister is Taiwo.)


Magnus is Taiwo's (Nnaife and Nnu Ego's daughter) husband.


Malachi is Nnu Ego's eighth born child (fourth girl).

Mama Abby

Mama Abby is Nnu Ego's neighbor when she first moves into the small flat after the Meers' compound.


Ngozi is Nnaife and Nnu Ego's first child, a son, who dies when only a few months old. Nnu Ego is so distraught after his death that she flees and attempts to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge.


Nnamdio is Nnaife and Nnu Ego's third living son (sixth child to be born).


Nwakusor is the Ibo man who saves Nnu Ego from committing suicide.

Obi Idayi

Obi Idayi (referred to as just Idayi sometimes) is Nwokocha Agbadi's (Nnu Ego's father's) best friend.

Obi Umunna

Obi Umunna is Ona's father. Because he has no sons to continue his family line, he has forbidden Ona to marry.


Obiageli is Nnaife and Nnu Ego's seventh born child (third girl).


Taiwo is Nnaife and Nnu Ego's daughter. (Her twin sister is Kehinde.)


Ubani is the Meers' cook and Nnaife's friend.