Second Class Citizen Chapter 1 Summary

This tutorial is all about the summary of Second Class Citizen Chapter 1. As always, I’m going to focus on the major incidents in this summary of Chapter 1 of Second Second Class Citizen, a novel by the celebrated Nigerian author, Buchi Emecheta.

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So this post has one clear objective: to give you an appropriate summary of Second Class Citizen Chapter 1.

The major incidents in chapter 1 of Buchi Emecheta’s novel, Second Class Citizen are the following.

  • Adah’s Running Away to School or How Adah Started School
  • Ma’s experience at the police station
  • The return of Lawyer Nweze from the United Kingdom and its significance. Another way of putting this important incident is, the welcome reception for Lawyer Nweze on his return from his studies in the United Kingdom.

If you need more details on the above incidents in Chapter 1 for possible objective test questions on Second Class Citizen, I’ll urge you to read this post.

Now, let’s begin our chapter-by-chapter summary of Second Class Citizen with a summary of Chapter 1.

How Adah Started School

One major incident in Second Class Citizen Chapter One is the interesting manner Adah, the protagonist manages to start going to school against the dictates of a society that places little premium on female education.

In Chapter 1 of Second Class Citizen, we see the 8-year old Adah making an audacious attempt to start schooling on her own terms.

Adah is clearly not happy with the fact that she has to stay at home while her younger brother, Boy, is in school. Her reasoning is simply this. It will be difficult for her to achieve her dreams, especially the one about travelling to the United Kingdom if she cannot attend school.

So, on a hot afternoon, just after midday, the young Adah unceremoniously absconds to school.

At this time, Pa, her father, is out to work. Her mother, who, at this time, is deep in conversation with a fellow woman, is not able to see Adah as she leaves the house for the Methodist school.

Adah has gone to the school without any good writing materials and without a school uniform. When she enters Mr Cole’s classroom, she literally disappears behind the huge figure of the teacher.

Mr Cole who happens to be Adah’s neighbour back at home, is not aware of the little Adah’s presence, standing right behind him until the children in the class draw his attention to the novel situation.

With the kind reception Mr Cole gives her, and with help from the boy with “craw-craw” on his head, Adah is happy to have spent her first ever day in school.

Ma’s Bitter Experience at the Police Station

Let’s continue our summary of Second Class Citizen Chapter 1 with the incident involving Ma at the Police Station.

This incident in Chapter 1 of Second Class Citizen is directly related to Adah’s running away to school unceremoniously.

Ma is Adah’s mother. The police have taken her to their station concerning Adah’s disappearance. They accuse her of child neglect and force her to drink a lot of raw garri with water.

As Ma suffers the pain of this torture, Adah gets disturbed and even cries loudly. It takes Pa’s intervention to stop Ma’s suffering at the hands of the police who appear to be enjoying the poor woman’s ordeal. They promise to make sure Adah starts attending school even if it means Ma selling one of her colourful lappas.

Lawyer Nweze’s Return from the United Kingdom (England)

We cannot end this summary of Chapter One of Second Class Citizen without highlighting the return of Lawyer Nweze from the United Kingdom.

Nweze happens to be a son of Ibuza, an Igbo town in eastern Nigeria. He had travelled to the United Kingdom to study law.

It is in Chapter 1 of Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen that we witness the triumphant return of the newly-qualified lawyer, Nweze, to his home country and to his people.

Nweze’s unprecedented achievement is not just a personal one. More significantly, it is an achievement for the whole Ibuza community. It is a milestone for his people both in Lagos and back in the Ibuza township in Igbo land.

For that matter, his people in Lagos have made elaborate plans to give him a befitting welcome. This reception of Nweze, the hero of Ibuza, forms much of the narrative in Second Class Citizen Chapter One.

The women of Ibuza are the first to accord Lawyer Nweze a proper welcome. They wear special uniforms. They sing songs specially composed for the occasion. This is how they receive the returning Nweze at the Lagos Wharf.

The men of Ibuza have to wait until the weekend to give their own special reception to their son and brother, Nweze. To the men of Ibuza, their greatest satisfaction comes from this one thing. It is the fact that Nweze has not betrayed them by coming home with a white woman for a wife.

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The Prominent Role of Oboshi

Another significant aspect of the return of Lawyer Nweze in Second Class Citizen Chapter 1 is the prominence given to the deity known as Oboshi.



Oboshi is the river goddess of Ibuza. This deity wields so much influence over the lives of the Ibuza people that she is believed to punish anyone who falls foul of her dictates with Leprosy.

This is why Adah cannot understand why the same powerful deity has failed to confront the foreign intruders. Oboshi has not stopped the foreigners who have come to desecrate her home, the river. So they degrade the land of Ibuza with uncontrolled drilling in search of petroleum.

The above are the highlights of the major incidents in our summary of Second Class Citizen Chapter 1.

Final Words

I trust that you found this post useful enough. You would also love to read this other post on the return of Lawyer Nweze from the United Kingdom. Do not forget to come back for summaries of the other chapters in Buchi Emechetta’s Second Class Citizen.

Thank you!

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