Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

A President’s Daughter and a New Ruler

The President’s Daughter

I’m on the board of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women. I attended my first board meeting in June in California.

U.S. National Committee for UN Women - Iyabo Obasanjo, the daughter of Nigeria's former president

Garri before being mixed with hot water to make eba.

Iyabo Obasanjo, the daughter of Nigeria’s former president, is also on this board. But she wasn’t able to attend the June meeting, and I hadn’t met her. And I was eager to do that.

So when Clem and I were planning a trip to Boston this week, I asked her to have dinner with us.

She invited us to her lovely home in Dedham, just south of Boston.

After garri is mixed with hot water, it's often called eba, eaten with 'soup.'

After garri is mixed with hot water, it’s often called eba, usually eaten with ‘soup.’

She had prepared Nigerian stew, rice, and eba. Eba is another name for garri, a major staple food of Nigeria and the tropics.

Cassava, a tuber larger than a potato but usually smaller than a Nigerian yam, is dried, ground, and then mixed with hot water to make eba.

We usually eat it with what we call in Nigeria a soup, but would call in the U.S. a stew, made with meat or fish and vegetables.

We were entertained with generous helpings of her opinion on Nigerian politics and politicians. She shared stories of her campaigns for the Nigerian Senate to represent her state Ogun; she won the first time, and lost the second!

She has written a book about her fascinating life which she hopes to have published during the next year. I look forward to reading it. I’ll keep you posted!

A Different Installation

After the exciting installation of our new senior minister at The Unitarian Church in Westport, I was pleased to read about another installation, this one even more grand!

The new Ooni of Ife, photo from Naij.com

The new Ooni of Ife, photo from Naij.com

The new Ooni of Ife, whose Yoruba dynasty goes back hundreds of years, has performed his 21 days of pre-inagugural rites and emerged in public in the last few days, according to Naij.com. His installation takes place over the next two weeks.”

Another Nigeria media source, Vanguard, says, “President Muhammadu Buhari, the representative of the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, are some of the dignitaries expected on December 7, at the installation and presentation of staff of office to the new Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II.”

I had to read that a couple of times to see if the Queen was coming, but I finally understood it to mean her representative (perhaps the British ambassador to Nigeria, known as The High Commissioner).

“Other prominent traditional rulers expected at the ceremony are the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Shehu of Borno, Alake of Egbaland and Awujale of Ijebuland, among others.” I love the titles!

Boko Haram in Retreat?

CBS News reports today that hundreds of hostages have been freed from the grip of Boko Haram. A multinational force from Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin and Chad, “‘killed more than 100 fighters and arrested 100 others last week,’ Cameroon’s government spokesman said Wednesday,” according to CBS.

There is no word whether any of the Chibok girls were among those released. Still, this is better news than we’ve had recently. I can’t imagine the pain the parents of those girls must be experiencing.

“The Talk” Part 2

I gave my suggestions last time for a talk we white families might give to our children to encourage them to put their white privilege to good use to combat racism. That was directed to fairly young children.

What about our teens? Another talk is given to black boys as they are becoming teenagers. It includes warnings about encounters with law enforcement. “Do not make any sudden moves. Do not resist.”

Parents may even say, “Don’t look an officer of the law in the eye.” It’s sad that today more than ever there is so little trust between people of color and law enforcement that black parents must caution their children like this.

What a privilege white parents have. We don’t have the same fear that our children may be considered dangerous because they are wearing a hoody or walking at night with friends.

Any suggestions on what to say to them to help them with awareness of what their black colleagues face?

 

 

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.

6 Comments

  1. How did I not know of your blog, Catherine? I am enthralled to find it, and to find so much I can relate to (and so much I had no inkling of either)! I look forward to perusing this buffet of wonderful and thoughtful things. Thank you!

    • I was so excited by your reply, Liz, that I called my sister Beth to tell her. She was pleased to hear about you. Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you now know of the blog and can follow along!

  2. Re your question about how to talk to teenagers: The vast majority of people (86-75% of the general population), no matter what their age, respond more strongly to lessons that are illustrated by specific stories. One does not have to abandon stories when children become young adults, only make the stories more age appropriate. Stories about people roughly the same age as the listener are particularly compelling. They can be true stories such as, “Yesterday a boy about your age…”

    Another way to engage teens is asking open questions to help them reach their own conclusions (rather than telling them what to think). For example, “What if you and I went to buy your first car and later found out that someone else got the same kind of car from the same dealer for $1500 less because of his race? How would you feel? What would you say or do?”

    • Thank you, Margaret. Your comment is an excellent reminder to use stories and to make them age appropriate. I will use your comment in another blog post. And I will remember this as I prepare a talk for a session on race at a Unitarian Cluster meeting in Connecticut in April. The open questions are also a smart way to engage teenagers. Actually, posing situations like your example would work for adults too.

  3. Catherine, I enjoy reading your blog.

    It’s like sipping a cuppa chai, nibbling on savories and enjoying the nuggets you share.

    You leave me wanting more…so I look forward to the next read.