Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Bring Back Our Girls

President Buhari Faces Criticism

Pres Buhari

President Buhari not long after his inauguration.

President Buhari disappointed the Bring Back Our Girls activists.

He has come in for quite a bit of criticism in the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago he agreed to meet with the Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, activists in Abuja.

The meeting didn’t go well. According to Voice of America, the parents were upset after the meeting.

Spokesperson Aisha Yesufu

Spokesperson Aisha Yesufu

Aisha Yesufu is a spokesperson for the BBOG campaign. She said, “liberating the girls is not a privilege but a constitutional right that the Nigerian government must fulfill.”

Bring Back Our Girls Parents

She added that Buhari did not make a personal connection with the grieving parents or others in the audience but left the meeting abruptly after speaking.

Yesufu said, “. . there were so many things that he did mention, the fact that the fight against terrorism that he has embarked on should be appreciated; and also that the Chibok girls were not abducted during his regime.”

Haven’t I heard recently in the U.S. political campaigns about the importance of tone? It does matter, especially when empathy is required, as with these parents and sympathizers.

And I agree with Yesufu and others who believe that it doesn’t matter what regime was in power when the girls were abducted. BBOG is the current government’s responsibility now.

Nuclear Summit Conversation

Buhari left for the U.S. a few days after that meeting for the nuclear security summit hosted by President Obama.

In this brief video I found online we see President Obama more-or-less making sure that Prime Minister of Trudeau recognizes Buhari, though it isn’t clear to me that Obama remembers Buhari’s name.

Obama’s comment captured by the microphone, “He’s doing a good job,” to Trudeau while gesturing to Buhari, received feedback from quite a few Nigerians.

A few people felt like I do – why did Buhari have to come himself for this meeting when there is so much work at home?

And I also thought, why did Obama ask him about his accommodations? It sounded patronizing to me.

Here is my favorite comment about the video:

“Outsiders are telling you [Buhari], you are doing a good job while your own family is living in pain, suffering and penury? And you are happy?  Ok o!
Make Obama come and vote for you in 2019 naa!”

Even if you’re not familiar with Nigeria’s pidgin English, you can probably sense the annoyance in “Ok o!” and the added “naa,” at the end.

Nigeria is not a major player in the nuclear field, though there are plans for nuclear power. There is now an atomic energy commission in the country.

In a February 2016 article in Punch, the author says, “The Nigerian government is already following the trend [of nuclear power plants] and is close to agreeing a Build-Own-Operate (BOO) arrangement with Russia’s Rosatom for Nigeria’s first nuclear power plants (expected to come online from 2022).

Nigerians feel they are “living in pain” with the lack of electricity. Today’s fuel shortages are very upsetting.

The naira’s fall in value because of the low price of oil also make Nigerians impatient with their government. Boko Haram and the Bring Back Our Girls campaign just add to the frustration.

Rescued Women and Girls

Though the Chibok girls haven’t been found, many others abducted by Boko Haram have been rescued.

They faced horrendous situations. “Thousands of girls and women were held against their will [by Boko Haram], subject to forced marriages and relentless indoctrination. Those who resisted were often shot,” The Washington Post reported on April 3.

I wrote earlier about the ostracism many rescued women and girls face from their families and communities. The stigma of rape is not easy to overcome, and there is fear that the indoctrination may have taken hold.

The Washington Post article talks about the treatment of women whose communities were destroyed or families lost. They are placed in camps for displaced persons.

In the camps they face the same ostracism for the same reasons. Have these women been brain-washed? Can they be freed of the stigma of rape?

Those who were ‘married’ to Boko Haram terrorists, “are still labeled ‘Boko Haram wives.’”

Worse for Women With Children

Snow falling on weeping cherry, in April!

The weeping cherry in our front yard is weeping for the BBOG movement, and for the snow in April!

For those with children it is worse. Many believe that because the children carry the blood of the fathers they will become terrorists too.

Can you imagine having to care for your shunned child while you are also treated as shameful? And this after you were a victim and have been traumatized by your experience?

“Unlike most of the world’s refugee or displacement camps, which are run by the United Nations and international aid groups, the camps where Boko Haram’s victims live are administered by the Nigerian military,” the writer says.

Just having enough food and water is a challenge, not to mention schools, healthcare, and services for the victims.

The article concludes, “There are few signs the situation will improve.”

Interracial Marriage – Years Before Us!

Ainehi Edoro has again given me news to share. In her blog Brittle Paper, she tells the story of a film about an intriguing 20th century interracial couple.

Oyelowo in Germany

David Oyelowo, February 2015, at US Embassy in Berlin

I had never heard of the white British woman, Ruth Williams, though the name of Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland was somewhat familiar.

Now David Oyelowo is producing and starring in a film of their story, based on The Colour Bar, a biography that came out in 2007 written by Susan Williams (not a relative that I can find).

Pike, British actress

Rosamund Pike, playing Ruth Williams in film

Rosamund Pike, not a name known to me but may be to you, is playing Ruth Williams.

A United Kingdom . . is essentially a biopic that chronicles the romance between Ruth and Sereste—who will later become the first democratically elected president of Botswana—and the epic controversy that trailed their marriage.”

The couple met when Seretse was studying in the UK. The article continues, “They eventually got married. On their return to Bechuanaland, their marriage was so scandalous that it led to a 6-year exile thanks to pressure from the South African government who saw their interracial marriage as an affront to apartheid ideals.”

I read a few notes from the biography. Apparently the British government worked closely with South Africa to keep the couple’s marriage from upsetting the racial status quo in South Africa.

I agree with Ainehi who says at the end of her post, “We can’t wait to see it!”

Can Whites Get It?

Nicholas Kristof published his Part VI of  When Whites Just Don’t Get It’  on April 2. He said he’s reprinting articles from his 2014 series, “because public attention to racial disparities seems to be flagging even as the issues are as grave as ever.”

He starts with a quiz about employment opportunities. “A majority of whites believe that job opportunities are equal for whites and blacks, according to a PBS poll, but rigorous studies show that just isn’t so.”

When I read what he said about research in sales, I was shocked, and then I wasn’t!

He said, “Something similar happens even with sales. Researchers offered iPods for sale online and found that when the photo showed the iPod held by a white hand, it received 21 percent more offers than when held by a black hand.”

Kristof says that for many of us who are white, we don’t intend to discriminate. But we have hidden biases that “perpetuate inequality.”

He says, “You can explore your own unconscious biases in a free online test, called the implicit association test.” I wrote about it before also quoting Kristof.

And I’m going to take the test now so I can report my results tomorrow morning in my TEAM Westport meeting. I’ll tell you next time how I do.

Ikem helping us celebrate grandpa's birthday

Grandson Ikem on April 3

Clem’s Birthday and Family

Our daughter and her family came to help us celebrate my husband’s birthday on April 1!

Here’s our grandson Ikem, now close to 3 years old.

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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