Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Damage from Boko Haram

Combating Boko Haram’s Influence

About 70 freed Boko Haram captives are nearing the end of a 9-month program to aid their reintegration to Nigerian society. Psychologists and Islamic teachers are helping them.

Adaobi Tricia Uwaubani, from Goodreads

Adaobi Tricia Uwaubani, novelist and reporter, photo from Goodreads

Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, had the report written by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani.

One woman who had been married to a Boko Haram commander still misses her life of leisure. She had slaves serving her. In addition, “. . . some of these women . . . gained respect, influence and standing within Boko Haram,” the report says.

The Neem Foundation which runs the program says, “Seduced by this power, and relieved to escape the domestic drudgery of their everyday lives, these women can prove tougher than men to deradicalize.”

Fatima Akilu is the head of Neem Foundation in Nigeria. She described challenges the women and children face when they return home. She said, “There is still a lot of anger and resentment from communities that have been traumatized for years, and subjected to atrocities by the group.”

Families may find it difficult to accept their daughters who were rape victims. Some think the babies are destined to become Boko Haram terrorists like their fathers.

But there have been major changes in most of the women who now believe that “the actions of their former husbands were wrong.”

I can imagine the homecomings will be joyous yet stressful. UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, was quoted in the article, saying, “Female former Boko Haram captives, and their children born to the militants, often face mistrust and persecution from their communities, who fear they will radicalize others or carry out violence.”

Thomson Reuters Foundation covers women’s rights, property rights, climate, and other critical issues. On the front page for each, there is a statement about the issue. The one where I found this story says, “ABOUT OUR WOMEN’S RIGHTS COVERAGE. We focus on stories that help to empower women and bring lasting change to gender inequality.” Thank you, Thomson Reuters Foundation.

I just signed up to receive their newsletter. So you may see more from them.

Other Devastation Caused by Boko Haram

IDP Camp from My Lecturer's Blog; photo has AFP in corner

IDP Camp from My Lecturer’s Blog; photo from AFP I believe

Reintegrating former Boko Haram captives is hard but the result can be positive. Other harm facing Northern Nigeria from Boko Haram does not have a good ending.

A recent report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says 120,000 people are facing famine. But “11 million are confronting severe food shortages this year,” the report continues.

AP posted the story, picked up by a Philippines online news agency, about the crisis.

There have been warnings for months. I heard about impending danger a year ago when a Nigerian official spoke about the camps for internally displaced persons.

The article says, “UN agencies have reported that children already are dying in the region and some half a million face death if they don’t get help.”

Aid comes from international agencies but it is insufficient and cannot reach everyone. It is delivered through Nigerian intermediaries, including the army. There is ample room for supplies to get ‘lost.’

“Corruption and conflict between the government and aid agencies is compounding the crisis. Officials are investigating reports that local government agencies are stealing food aid,” the Inquirer article said.

Nigeria should be able to provide for all its citizens, even when there is conflict. But the country shifted its attention away from agriculture as a revenue producer when oil provided steady revenue.

While agriculture remains the major occupation in the country, it is based on local production for family use, with small surpluses traded.

The country is “the world’s biggest importer of rice,” the article says. This is disgraceful. Nigeria has plenty of suitable land for growing rice. It could supply its own people and others as well!

And not getting aid to those in critical need is even more disgraceful.

More Media on White Privilege Essay Contest

I just received an email from our TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey. He said, “I will be interviewed on the Essay Contest by Michael Smerconish on CNN sometime between 9 and 10 am tomorrow (Saturday),” if there is no other breaking news.

I will try to time my visit to the nail salon so I can watch. Or I’ll record it! Will you watch?

Memorial for Husband of TEAM Colleague

Saturday afternoon is the jazz memorial service for Bill Buckley. He was the husband of my friend Judy. She is my colleague in several ways. She invited me to join Baker’s Dozen Book Group and Sister Grannies, both groups I love. We’re both part of TEAM Westport.

Bill loved jazz. I think Judy was already a jazz aficionado when they married, but he certainly deepened her appreciation.

I asked her if I could help by encouraging people to sign the guest book. She accepted, so I’ll go early to stay near the door.

The books in Jen's giveaway

The books in Jen’s giveaway

Valentine’s Day Book Giveaway

My wonderful public relations consultant Aline is amazing at promoting books by clients like me! I’m excited to have my memoir featured in a Valentine’s Day Giveaway by a Westport blogger, Jen. She writes about three books by Connecticut authors.

She says, “To win one of these books as a special Valentine’s Day gift, like this post, write the titles you want to win in the comments, and share it on Facebook or Twitter. A winner for each book will be chosen at random on February 14th! Tell me if you enter, and especially if you win!

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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