Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Barack in Africa, Catherine in Maine

Obama at the African Union

Professor Vinnie Ferraro in his blog on Tuesday included the link to the video of U.S. President Obama, the first American President to address the meeting of the African Union. “The meeting was in Ethiopia and Obama gave a speech that both praised African leaders for the substantial progress their countries have made in recent years but was also highly critical of the corruption that seems to pervade many African politics and economies.

“He received the most applause when he criticized leaders who stayed too long in office–a pointed reference to the President of Burundi,” said Prof. Ferraro.

Fun Fanfare

John Coyne sent me info on Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia. They tried but failed to get a meeting with Obama.

They listed the ‘shout-outs’ about Peace Corps during President Obama’s time in the country:

  • Press conference – OBAMA: “Ethiopia also hosts one of the largest Peace Corps programs in the world and has welcomed thousands of young Americans over the years.”
  • At the State Dinner – HAILE MARIUM: “And here, let me also mention the exemplary dedication displayed by your youth in the Peace Corps, both in the 1960s, all over the way through today.  “
  • At the State Dinner – OBAMA: “Ethiopia kindled a commitment to service for generations of young Americans who volunteered for the Peace Corps and who have for decades worked alongside the people of this proud land.”

The PC Volunteer sent this to John: “I hope to write a summary of our involvement over the past month.  It was quite a roller coaster!  But we are glad for the shout outs we did get and it’s been a lot of fun seeing all the fun fanfare in Ethiopia.  People were very welcoming and the mood was really festive and fun!”

Obama getting down with colleagues in Kenya

Obama getting down with colleagues in Kenya

The fun and fanfare reminded me of President Jimmy Carter’s visit to Nigeria in 1979 which I write about in my memoir, Nigeria Revisited My Life and Loves Abroad. I was about to be President of the American Women’s Club so had the opportunity to meet Carter and  his wife Roslyn. Daughter Amy was entertained at a swimming part that our daughter attended.

Before Ethiopia, President Obama was in Kenya. You can see him dancing during his visit. I love this!

If Africa Was a Bar

I hadn’t seen the hashtag “ifafricawasabar” – If Africa Was a Bar – that apparently went viral a few days ago. I learned about it from Ainehi Edoro in her blog post today. It was started by a young woman from Botswana, Siyanda-Panda @SiyandaWrites. She asked, “If Africa was a bar, what would your country be drinking/doing?” The response was rapid, intense, and broad.

“The struggles facing African countries came to the fore in these 5 tweets that touch on issues of identity, self-perception and a sense of belonging,” she said in her blog Brittle Paper. One says, “Cameroon would go home early cus France said so.” Each was by a person from the country named.

You can read the others on Ainehi’s blog. You can also look for the hashtag on Twitter if you are a Twitter user. If so, you can find me @cathonye.

Boko Haram Update

President Buhari spent two days in Cameroon focused on Boko Haram. I read in Washington Post’s report that, “Buhari has said it is a disgrace that Nigeria needs foreign troops on its soil. But he noted before leaving Cameroon that “none of us can succeed alone.”

I’m glad he recognizes and acknowledges the need for cooperation. It’s related to the topic of my sermon for Aug. 9. I’m using Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, “We need to live together as brothers, or we will all die separately as fools.” (I’m not looking it up – did I get it right?)

The Nigerian Defense Ministry has appointed Maj. Gen. Iliyasu Isah Abbah to command the 8,700-strong four-nation army based in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital. Cameroon becomes the fourth country to commit to the African Union-mandated Multi-National Joint Task Force after Buhari inked similar agreements with Chad and Niger. Buhari plans to visit Benin seeking a similar agreement; the plan seems to be to have a five-nation force.

In a joint statement, the presidents of Cameroon and Nigeria stated “their common determination to eradicate Boko Haram… and agreed to intensify the exchange of information between the two countries.”

I read another article in Deutsche Welle, or DW, online that talked about the challenges. “What the Nigerian military has been weak at doing, and I think the Boko Haram insurgency has exposed this, is dealing with asymmetrical war,” said Manji Cheto, vice president of Teneo Intelligence, a risk analysis organization in London.

I wasn’t sure of the meaning of ‘asymmetrical war.’ Do you know what that means?

Mt. Desert Island, in Acadia National Park

Mt. Desert Island, in Acadia National Park

Book Talk Southwest Harbor, Maine

On Tuesday Aug. 4 at 5:30 I’ll be speaking at Southwest Harbor Library in Maine. Scroll down on the link and you’ll find the announcement.

I’m coming with my sister. We’ll be staying with my friend Bunny in Bass Harbor.

I just heard from Nancy, a Mount Holyoke fellow alum and friend who lives in Westport, that she’s in Maine now, near Southwest Harbor which is on Mt. Desert Island in Acadia National Park.

Nancy has talked to several other MHC women who either live in the area or are there now as she is. She plans to come to the talk and will encourage others to come too!

What fun!

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. “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    • You took the words right out of my mouth, Kent. I am using them in the meditation before the sermon and then again in the first paragraph of my sermon on Aug. 9. Wish you could come, but it’s a bit far! Are you anywhere near Southwest Harbor?