Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Afreximbank President in New York

President Oramah at New York University

The African Export Import Bank, known as Afreximbank, was established in 1993 to promote intra-African trade. The President, Dr. Benedict Oramah, spoke on Monday evening at NYU.

Dr. Oramah speaking, seated to answer questions, and with me after speech.

Dr. Oramah speaking, seated to answer questions, and with me after speech.

Clem and I went. We were early and seated about four rows back. A group of young people, apparently students, mostly Black, sat in front of us.

I heard a girl introduce herself to someone.

I leaned forward and tapped her shoulder. “I heard you say your name is Adaora. Are you Igbo?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Do you speak Igbo?” I said to her in Igbo.

“A little,” she replied in English, slightly embarrassed.

A few minutes into his speech, Dr. Oramah said it was time to pause and, “thank the leadership of this great University, NYU, and in particular Africa House for giving me the honour of being here today.”

He was especially grateful to NYU, he said, for “educating my beloved daughter, Adaora, bringing many positive changes in her and preparing her in a profound way for a highly competitive world.”

Intra-African Trade in History and Today

He introduced the history of intra-African trade by speaking about the great empires of pre-colonial times.

Mansa Musa headed the Kingdom of Mali in the 14th century.

Dr. Oramah said, “The Arab historian Shihab al-Umari . . .wrote: ‘Mansa Musa left no emir or holder of royal office without a gift of gold; he and his company gave out so much gold that they depressed its value in Egypt and caused the price to fall.’ ”

He told the audience on Monday, “Yes, actions taken by an African Leader as far back as the 14th century could depress the world price of gold.”

I’ve told this story to the classes I teach on Nigerian history. Even though it’s not Nigerian, I can’t resist talking about what existed on the continent of Africa before the Europeans arrived.

Of course African countries today should trade with each other. But the artificial boundaries, with different governance structures and languages, make it difficult. Each has established its own border controls, financial system and infrastructure.

Afreximbank is determined to overcome the challenges, President Oramah said. I hope so!

Seized Weapons, No Investigation?

This article aroused my curiosity. The recovery of nearly 2,700 rifles happened over the past eight months.

United Nations urges thorough investigation of seized rifles

The outgoing Country Representative Ms Cristina Albertin of the UNODC was a guest at the News Agency of Nigeria forum in Abuja.

I wonder how seriously the government will take her advice to pursue an investigation and who it might touch.

Too Many Girls Not in School in Nigeria’s North

Mercy Abang’s story about Nigerian girls out of school appeared in Sahara Reporters.

She wrote there are already 10.5 million children not in school. Boko Haram’s tactics are adding to the number, especially for girls.

She related several stories of girls who want the education but are too frightened. Their parents too cannot risk having them in school.

Malala with Rebecca. Her daughter Sarah is still missing.

Malala in Nigeria recently. She’s with Rebecca whose daughter is still missing.

I loved her quote from Malala:

“Nigeria is the richest country in Africa, but has more girls out of school than any country in the world,” said Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai during her recent visit to Maiduguri. “Studies are clear — educating girls grows economies, reduces conflict, and improves public health. For these girls and for their country’s future, Nigeria’s leaders must immediately prioritize education.”

I was intrigued by the bio of the article’s author: “Mercy Abang is a Freelance Journalist, focusing on development Journalism,” it said. “She tweets at @abangmercy. She is the 2017 United Nations Journalism Fellow.”

I found her article very good on the personal stories that kept my interest. I liked her use of the UNICEF stats.

I immediately went to Twitter to follow her so you may hear from her, via me, again.

Do you follow people on Twitter? Write Twitter posts yourself? If you use Twitter, let me know so I can follow you!

Trials Begin for Boko Haram Suspects

Nigeria’s Vanguard Newspaper reported that trials are beginning for detainees, many held since 2009. “The justice ministry announced last month that some 1,670 detainees would go on trial at a civilian court at a military base in Kainji, in the central state of Niger,” the article said. “A further 651 others held at the Giwa barracks in the capital of the northeastern state of Borno, Maiduguri, would then be tried.”

The Vanguard article said there is uncertainty about the fairness of the trials. Outside observers will not be allowed.

The article adds, “The extent of the defendants’ links to the jihadist group, which has killed at least 20,000 people since 2009, is also in question, with the military accused of arbitrary arrests.”

But at least this is progress, the writer says, since until now there have been very few trials despite the large number of people arrested.

Another View of Upcoming Trials

Ambassador Campbell also wrote about the trials in the blog Africa in Transition.

He said, “Prison conditions are appalling. Amnesty International estimates that seven thousand have died in detention since 2011, and the security services have extra-judicially murdered an additional twelve hundred.”

Sounds like those who are still alive are fortunate.

Campbell agrees that this is forward movement. He says, “Though this is merely the beginning of the process, and one already rife with potential problems, the trials are an important step forward toward addressing the large number of people held indefinitely and without charge.”

Watch for more on the trials and results.

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.


  1. When will Africa really leave the past behind and truly move forward?
    Leadership remains the major problem in Africa.

  2. Economic integration – along the lines of the progress made from EC to EU in Europe – could see a new nation of Africans states built around the economic union of West African states (ECOWAS), ending the current “zero sum games” that occasion our existences in the post colonial “silo” states

    • You are right, Reggie. Economic integration would be ideal for ECOWAS, and even for a wider group of African countries, even for all! But as Oramah pointed out, there are many barriers to overcome!