Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

25 Books by African Writers

Loan Request Not An Emergency

Nigeria has asked for loans totalling $3.5 billion, $2.5 from the World Bank and the remainder from the African Development Bank, I read. If you are a subscriber to Financial Times and want more details, you can read the article.

“Nigeria’s economy is Africa’s largest and has been hit hard by the fall in crude prices — oil revenues are expected to fall from 70 per cent of income to just a third this year,” the writer says. The government had been expecting a deficit of $11 billion, but that is already rising to $15 billion.

The finance minister, Ms. Kemi Adeosun, does not want to call these loan requests “emergency” measures.” She says these are simply the cheapest sources to help the country cover the gap resulting from the oil price decline.

The two organizations’ governing bodies must still approve these loans. I can imagine an uneasy few days waiting to know if they agree.

What To Read

Blackass, one of the recommended new books - African Writers

Blackass, one of the recommended new books

African writers are prolific, respected, and eminently readable! Here’s a wonderful list of 25 new books compiled by Aaron Bady. My colleague from TEAM Westport, Dolores, sent it.

I love Bady’s comment as he introduces his list. “So if you’re looking for something to read, and you want it to have the word ‘African’ attached to it, here are my top 25 suggestions for the first six months of the new year,” he says. “Chain bookstores won’t carry most of these, so you might have to . .ask your local bookstore to place a special order–but the one thing you can’t do, any longer, is complain you have nothing to read. You have your orders; go forth and read.”

They are a mix of new and already established authors, but all the books are new.

I don’t know where to start! There are several Nigerian authors, including one recommended by Chimamanda Adichie. I would tend to read those first.

The Zimbabwean authors sound intriguing too. I love the alliterative title of one of those – you’ll have to look at the list to find it!

Let me know if you read one or two of these, or if you read them all in the first six months of the year, as Bady seems to suggest.

African Hair and More to Read

This week’s newsletter from BrainChild magazine has a wonderful piece called Race, Shame, and My Daughter’s African Hair, by Cindy Reed.

Marly Dias, organizer of '1000 boks' campaign.

Marley Dias, organizer of ‘1000 books’ campaign, photo from her mom Janice Dias.

The author is the white mother of an adopted daughter from Ethiopia. Her daughter at age 7 goes to school thrilled with her natural African hair.

But when her mom picks her up after school, the daughter has, “her free, naturally-styled hair from that morning now stuffed unceremoniously into an unfamiliar scrunchie.”

The mom says, “She is quiet on the drive home, refusing to answer my gentle questions about the day. Inside, I prepare myself for a first conversation about racism, about difference, about pride and standing strong.”

I felt for the mother who was hurting at least as much as her daughter. I hope she has the conversation soon, and keeps having these conversations.

The mother may encourage her town library to include books that feature children of color as main characters. There are a lot, but the people in charge have to make a commitment or respond to outside encouragement to buy them.

I just heard about Marley Dias who, at age 11, is working on this. “The Thomas A. Edison Middle School student began her campaign – called #1000BlackGirlBooks – after growing tired of reading YA books featuring ‘white boys and their dogs,’ as the main characters, she says.”

According to People Magazine, “So far, #1000BlackGirlBooks has collected 900 books.” For info on how to donate or to read more about the campaign visit grassrootscommunityfoundation.org. Marley will be collecting books until Feb. 11.”

How to Send a Cow

My husband has commissioned a website for his Koko Free Trade Zone project in Nigeria. I’ve been helping him talk to the developers. He has sent them a couple of email messages about what he wants.

Cow like the one we're sending for chief's burial.

Cow like the one we’re sending for chief’s burial.

A few minutes ago he came to my desk to say, “I want you to know that I’m sending . . ” and I thought he was going to tell me about more notes for the website. So when he followed with, “a cow,” I burst out laughing and didn’t even hear what he said next.

When I stopped laughing, he repeated, “I’m sending a cow for the burial of the chief.”

Just reading the phrase makes me laugh again! We’re sitting in our home in Westport Connecticut. How do you send a cow to Nigeria? And a chief’s burial? What?

Of course I understand perfectly well what he means. It does not involve Fedex or UPS, or even a cargo ship!

Participant in ofala, festival honoring chief after his death.

Participant in ofala, festival honoring chief after his death.

Chief Ofomata of Nanka, Clem’s town, died in February after a long illness. He came to our 50th wedding anniversary party in the village just over a year ago, and he was very weak then. He must have been well over 80.

It is customary to hold an ofala, or festival, in honor of a chief’s inauguration and passing. In our town the ofala must be within a year of the chief’s death. It took place a couple of weeks ago.

Many people wanted the ofala and the funeral to be held together, but the chief’s son and the town leaders could not agree. The funeral will be in March. The cow is for that event.

So how will Clem send a cow? He will instruct his staff in Nigeria to send money to a relative in the village to buy the cow and deliver it in our name. It’s a fitting gift to honor a chief!

 

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.

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