Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Climate Change Effects on Nigeria

The New York Times “Race-Related”

I follow The New York Times “Race-Related” series. The stories provide wonderful and useful reflections on Black life in the U.S.

Award-winning director and producer Stanley Nelson

Award-winning director and producer Stanley Nelson

The most recent said, “Our correspondents Rachel Swarns and John Eligon were joined this week by the Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson. They discussed whether some beach and waterfront communities have become havens for African-Americans, who’ve been excluded from white resorts for generations.” [Watch]

Stanley Nelson says, “Successful Black people in our society spend a good part of their time where they’re the only person of color in a room. You have to put on this armor.”

He says you get used to it. But it’s wonderful to take off the armor and be in the midst of a group where you do not stand out.

To walk into a bar, or onto the beach, and be surrounded by people who look like you, is an experience those of us who are white have all the time. Not so for people of color in the U.S.

Climate Change in Nigeria 

Former Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by the United States House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology recently.

Former Ambassador John Campbell, now at Council on Foreign Relations

Former Ambassador John Campbell, now at Council on Foreign Relations

He said, “Climate change certainly has direct implications for the security of the United States.

“But, we Americans must also be concerned about the security of our close diplomatic partners. If our partners’ security is undermined, so too is our own, even if only indirectly.”

He then turns to the country he knows well. He says, “I would like to look at Nigeria as a case study, where climate change is already having a negative impact on the security of a close partner of the United States.”

First he recounts Nigeria’s importance to the U.S. It has a rapidly growing population, it has oil, and it is the largest economy (by common measures) in Africa. He applauds the country’s 2015 democratic election and its participation in the UN and other peacekeeping missions.

He reminds participants that Nigeria was a founder of the African Union.

Climate Change Impact on Nigeria

Then he discusses two factors, desertification and rising sea levels. Both are already having major impacts.

“Desertification is promoting economic and social instability in northern Nigeria,” he says. It has decreased the amount of arable land. This forces herdsmen and farmers to move south, infringing on the farming areas of others, leading to conflict.

Lake Chad changes, compiled from NASA satellite images. As you can guess, the blue is water.

Lake Chad changes, compiled from NASA satellite images. As you can guess, the blue is water.

Lake Chad was a vital source of fresh water but it has declined dramatically in size. Fishing has lost much of its economic viability. Water for irrigation is scarce.

“Pervasive violence and deepening poverty encourage the rise of radical religious groups,” he says. Boko Haram is the prime example.

There is also the issue of rising sea levels. “Because of global warming, sea levels around the world are likely to rise by more than thirty inches by the end of the century. Africa, the Gulf of Guinea in particular, is expected to be especially hard hit.”

He says 70 million people a year could be affected by 2080.

Flooding has already devastated areas in 32 of Nigeria’s 36 states, he points out. It will become worse. Much of Lagos is near sea-level and will be threatened.

“Consideration of the social and political consequences of climate change are often based on future projections. In the case of Nigeria, however, the effects of climate change are already visible,” he concludes.

I strongly recommend the article. Tell me what you think.

My Husband’s Days as a Cub Scout

I’m getting closer to finishing the second book. Still not sure of a title, or exactly what the final chapters will be. But I have over 60,000 words that I like. Much of that has been edited.

Yesterday I was writing about my husband’s time in the Scouts.

From Pinterest. Similar to Clem's Cub uniform, though later.

From Pinterest. Similar to Clem’s Cub uniform, though later.

Clem has spoken fondly of his days as a Cub Scout. His leader was called Akela. When he says the name, I can hear the pleasure it recalls for him!

He was in his final two years of elementary school in Onitsha. The school sponsored the Cub Scout Pack.

Though he was unaware, he was part of a broad mission. The introduction of the Boy Scout movement in Nigeria, I read, “had close connections to ideas of empire, the civilizing mission, and British nationalism.”

The writer says, “. . . the gradual replacement of indigenous institutions created incentives among Yoruba and Igbo boys to support new social organizations. In addition to British interference in local institutions, African elites quickly realized that close associations with the British administration opened new opportunities, and thus scouting functioned as a means to access benefits from the British colonial government that were otherwise unavailable.”

Not only was the scouting movement an opportunity for advancement along with education. It also appealed because the concepts of obedience, earning rewards, sharing common interests, and belonging to a group with children of one’s own age grade, were familiar.

The references are from Paddock A. (2015) “A World of Good to Our Boys”: Boy Scouts in Southern Nigeria, 1934–1951. In: Aderinto S. (eds) Children and Childhood in Colonial Nigerian Histories. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Clem’s fondest memories are wearing the Cub Scout uniform – a green shirt, khaki shorts, beret, and neck scarf – playing games, and parading around the school compound.

Our daughter Beth loved her Brownies experience at St. Saviours School in Lagos just as much!

Were you a Scout? Do you remember the experience as happily?

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. Thank you for the Scouting story in your Blog. It took me on a trip back to my days as a Brownie Scout. My older brother was a Boy Scout, and true to his nature, he was all about the badges and increasing his competencies in knots and navigation. My true self came through with the cookie sales in March. I could not wait to put on my uniform and go door to door in the neighborhood to tell people how wonderful my Troop was and take orders for Thin Mints and Samoas I worked hard at my sales pitch and devoted at least an hour every day after school to outreach. I was crushed when I did not win the charm bracelet – my friend had her father take order forms to his Chevrolet Dealership in town and brought back sales results that left me in the dust.