Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

UN Secretary General

Campaign for UN Secretary General

Our presidential campaign sometimes seems like the only game in town now. But another is happening, only much quieter and mostly out-of-sight. That’s the campaign for the next Secretary General of the UN.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon’s term as Secretary General is up at the end of December.

For the first time there is open campaigning. The candidates have been asked to submit a resume, or curricula vitae, and a vision statement. They also face two hours of questions from member states.

So far eight candidates, four of them women, have declared. The majority are from eastern Europe. Like Nigeria with its unwritten rule that the presidency should rotate between north and south, the Secretary General position rotates among the regions of the world.

Do you know what the regions are? If so, please tell us.

The choice is still not democratic by any definition. “Under the selection procedure, the 15-member Security Council recommends a single candidate for the 193-member General Assembly to essentially rubber stamp,” Nick Bryant says in the BBC News online.

He continues, “Thus, the power still resides with the permanent five members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, the UK and US – which can all veto candidates.”

And even then, he tells the reader, “the next UN secretary-general will be the candidate who emerges from backroom bargaining, mainly involving the US and Russia.”

Questions for prospective secretary general started

I also read about the process in the UN Dispatch series. I found that the questioning of candidates for secretary general already started today, April 12!

And I learned that, “later in the week, the Guardian is holding [a] town-hall style debate in New York in which journalists and the public can pose questions to the candidates. (Questions from the public are being solicited here.) Later in the Spring, a similar event will take place in London.”

So here’s your chance. Do you have a question for the people vying to be UN Secretary General?

Study Writing With Chimamanda

Adichie who will teach at Farafina Trust

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah

Ainehi Edoro posted information in her blog about a chance to study with Adichie.

“Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organized by award-winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from June 21 to July 1, 2016. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc,” her website says.

Star beer

Star beer, very popular in Nigeria, product of Nigerian Breweries

Thank you to Nigerian Breweries!

Interested participants are invited to apply. If you know an African writer who is interested, please share the information from Brittle Paper, Edoro’s website.

Women with Power; Power with Purpose

I subscribe to email news from Devex, who describe themselves as “the media platform for the global development community.”

Today I received this: “We at Devex are delighted to announce the 2016 Power with Purpose list.  These 5 women leaders are truly changing the world. See who we picked and check out their stories here.”

I looked immediately at the list and watched the video with their stories.

I was surprised by the list. The only one I had heard of was – you can guess – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance in the previous administration.

The women were honored at a recent gathering in London. The video was premiered there too.

You may want to look at the Devex website and see other recent news items. They have an article about the UN Secretary General election too.

Nigeria in Difficulty

Deborah sent me a link to an article about Nigeria in the Wall Street Journal. I read the first couple of lines, which is all WSJ would allow me. Then I went to the library to read it all.

Like the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal doesn’t allow non-subscribers to read their articles online, although FT is a little more generous – I can get 3 articles free per month!

The two writers, Drew Hinshaw and Joe Parkinson, say, “With 187 million people, and trillions of dollars in untapped crude oil, Nigeria was meant to power Africa’s rise. Instead, it is becoming – for the moment – a symbol of how fast and how far low oil prices have dragged emerging markets down.”

They note that Buhari has “made progress in beating back . . Boko Haram.” They also mention his moves against corruption. But he is in danger of losing the population’s trust as frustration mounts.

Shortages Everywhere

Foreign exchange is in very short supply with the price of oil so low. The official exchange rate is about 200 Naira to a dollar. But scarcity also encourages the currency “parallel” market, as it’s called.

Insufficient foreign exchange means the country can’t import the usual amount of refined petrol for cars, buses, generators, and factories. Power generation is hampered for lack of spare parts and maintenance.

Electricity is scarce, and fuel is scarcer! People are waiting in line for hours to fill their tanks, and do not always succeed even after the wait. So the price of black market petrol goes up and up, and even that is not easy to find.

Lessons from Africa

Workshop Lessons from Africa

Workshop: Lessons from Africa – wonderful participants!

The Cluster Connections 2016 in New Haven was such a well-organized event! It was fun to meet Unitarian-Universalists from 12 congregations. About 100 people attended.

My workshop, “Living in Community, Lessons from Africa,” was lively. Participants had great questions and comments.

Several asked for a copy of the presentation which I sent out today.

I’ll use some of the same ideas for the Lunch and Learn program at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York on April 20.

Want to come? Let me know.

Chickens Across the Street

Chickens Across the Road

Chickens at our neighbor John’s across the street

On Saturday I was driving home and spotted two chickens along the road. For a half a second, I felt like I was in Nanka, my husband’s village, where chickens are a common sight. Then I realized where I was. “Chickens?”

I remembered that our neighbor John had posted a pic of one of his children holding a chicken.

Then I thought, “They could be run over! Why are they outside the wall?” So as soon as I got into the house, I called John. Then I ran across the street and snapped a photo.

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. Would we love it if the UN got its first woman Sec. Gen.? I sure would.