Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

All About Books and Reading

Books for Nigeria

I used to carry several books on each trip to Nigeria, though I often wouldn’t read even one. When I travel on Dec. 18, I’m carrying my books on my iPad, a lot easier. I bought a few real books at the Westport Library Book Sale yesterday to take as presents. And I’ll add another two or three audio books to my phone.

But I don’t know how many copies of my memoir Nigeria Revisited to take. Certainly copies for Chinaku and Sam. Maybe a signed copy to give to my friend Jean Obi. In 1979 she and I were co-founders of Nigerwives, the organization for foreign wives of Nigeria that is thriving today with branches in several cities and even in the U.S. I went looking for the Nigerwives website to put a link for you. And see what I found instead!


What a surprise to see Jean, just after I wrote about her. She started the Braille project in the 1990’s and has been running it ever since. Friends of Nigeria, the organization of former Peace Corps volunteers that I helped organize more than twenty years ago in the U.S., gave a donation to the Braille Project once. I’ll have to share this video with the group!

Who Reads Nigerian Writers?

The blog Brittle Paper sent me to The New York Times for a thought-provoking op-ed by Adaobi Nwaubani, a Nigerian Igbo woman writer.

I Do Not Come to You By Chance

I Do Not Come to You By Chance

She believes that African writers are being forced to write for Western taste. She blames the African publishers, too few for a start, for being unwilling to take a risk on unknown authors. So authors have to self-publish, and then can’t be considered for prizes that are only awarded to traditionally published books.

She blames the African readers too. “Literary audiences in many African countries also simply sit and wait until the Western critics crown a new writer, and then begin applauding that person.”

She says, “I was fortunate. After I finished writing my novel in 2007 . . . I emailed the book to the four American agents whose websites said they accepted email submissions. I’d also sent it to a Nigerian publisher, but by the time people there phoned to say they were interested, I already had a contract with an agent in New York . .”

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is the author of the novel “I Do Not Come to You by Chance.” I’m adding it to my list of books to read and just bought it for my iPad Kindle app.

Igbo Conference

On the blog Africa in Words I found this announcement of a call for papers for an April conference in London. The theme is “Igbo Womanhood, Womanbeing and Personhood.” I’m not sure I understand what all those terms mean. But some of the proposed topics are intriguing.

Should I write a paper? Would the conference organizers accept me since I’m not an academic? Maybe my Master’s in Public and Private Management, and the completion of my memoir, would be enough.

The 16th of January is the deadline for submission of abstracts. Here are a few of the topics. I really only have ideas about one – Igbo Women and the Family. I wrote about both groups, the Lineage Daughters and the Lineage Wives, in my memoir. With research, I could perhaps write on one of the others.

  • Historicising the Changing Position of Igbo Women
  • Igbo Women and the Family; Ụmụada (Lineage Daughters) and Nwunyedi (Lineage Wives)
  • The Politics of Inheritance
  • Igbo Women in the Diaspora
  • Political Participation of Women in the Pre-colonial, Colonial and Post-independence Era.   I welcome your suggestions.
Pearl Harbor Memorial

Pearl Harbor Memorial on Oahu

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Nkiru and I went to Pearl Harbor during our Hawaii Water Adventure in July. We saw the museums, read the stories, and watched the “compelling 23 minute film on the history of the politics, the people and the attack on Oahu.”

We came out from the film expecting to board the US Navy boat that shuttles visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial, built “over the remains of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7, 1941.”

The Arizona was bombed by the Japanese Naval Forces as part of the attack that drew the U.S. into World War II.

The Arizona attack, from Prof. Ferraro's post today.

The Arizona attack, from Prof. Ferraro’s post today.

But on the day Nkiru and I were there with our RoadScholar group, an unusual wind storm was underway, the waters were choppy, and the shuttle was cancelled.

Our tour guide said she had heard of this only once before in many years. But we didn’t see the most famous part of the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Maybe I’ll go back one day.

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. Please, please, bring me 2 copies – I will buy them. Looking forward to seeing you at the anniversary. Cheluchi

  2. Hi Catherine,
    Thank you for mentioning the Call for Papers for the Igbo Conference. I am one of the organisers for the Igbo conference.The conference seeks to be a common ground for both the community and academia – So you are very qualified to come and speak. Everyone is encouraged to come and share what they know.
    Previous conferences have been very interactive and interesting with discussions from both delegates and speakers. We hope to see your abstract.

  3. Hi Catherine – fascinating post. The Igbo conference sounds really interesting, although not being based in London, I’m not sure that I will be able to attend (although I would love to).

    I’d like to contact you about a post for Africa in Words – could you email me? Many thanks!