Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Do You Know Where You Belong?

We Would Be One

Ready for the service to start at The Unitarian Church in Westport

Ready for the service to start at The Unitarian Church in Westport

“Just over a year ago I was close to finishing my memoir. It was in writing that I wrestled with the question of where I belong, why I grew up without knowing I had a community, and how I came to feel part of the community in Nigeria.

“My husband Clem is Igbo, one of the three largest tribes in Nigeria. As I learned to belong, I asked whether he had ever had to wonder about this question. He had always known he was part of a place and group of people. He knew that whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. He felt the network of mutuality.”

He says, “I was born with it. It’s part of me.”

I said this early in the sermon that I gave on Sunday August 9, at The Unitarian Church in Westport. I talked about African customs that made him know he belonged, and what relevance these might have for us.

I had lots of positive feedback. I didn’t try to make us white people feel guilty about race. I explained why I believe Black Lives Matter is important. And I gave suggestions for what we can do. Linda said, “I need to hear this message over and over. Thank you.”

Family at wedding anniversary, on cover of church order of service.

Family at wedding anniversary, on cover of church order of service.

You can read the sermon on my website or on our church website. You can also explore other parts of the church website if you like. In the next couple of weeks the audio of the service will be available on the website.

Anita and I chose the closing hymn We Would Be One, to the tune of Finlandia, as we were finalizing the order of service to be printed. We decided to use the hymn name on the cover which also included a picture of our family at our 50th wedding anniversary.

Read the sermon to find out why I used that picture!

Missed All My Book Presentations?

You can watch the talk I gave at Monroe Connecticut Library a few weeks ago, filmed by fellow Peace Corps alum Sherry Anderson.

I offered the presentation as an auction item at the Connecticut Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Christmas party last December. I said I would do it anywhere in the state.

Sherry won the item and asked me to present in Monroe where she could film the presentation. I felt like I was the winner! The video opens with the introduction by my publicist Aline. If you don’t want to watch it all, I suggest skipping to minute 38, where I read a couple of segments.

Nigeria’s Oil Industry

The Financial Times has an excellent article on the oil industry and NNPC, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. President Buhari appointed Emmanuel Kachikwu to head the organization. He, in turn, fired eight senior managers.

But the article points out that Buhari’s plans for the oil sector are not yet clear. Some are concerned that he hasn’t yet appointed ministers for petroleum or anything else.

The writer says, “Those who are getting impatient after six to eight weeks should realise that they gave him a mandate for 48 months and he’s going to deliver,” says presidency spokesman Femi Adesina.

And Automobile Industry Too

Ford Motors is planning to open a plant in Nigeria in the next few months!

That’s exciting news. I read the story in Mail & Guardian Africa. The announcement was made in South Africa where Ford already has a manufacturing facility. The vehicles will be for the Nigerian market now.

The head of Ford Motors in Sub-Sahara Africa said they may consider using the Nigerian plant to supply other West African countries. “We’re going to have to watch how policy evolves, how free-trade zones evolve,” he said. “But we believe that the time is right to enter Nigeria to be on the right strategic footing looking into the future.”

VW is also restarting its production in the country. Buhari’s election is having positive effects.

Are You Too Old?

Judy, one of my ‘Sister Grandmas,’ sent I’m Too Old for This from The New York Times. The author Dominique Browning relishes using her age to stop paying attention to past annoyances. She says, “Only when you hit 60 can you begin to say, with great aplomb: ‘I’m too old for this.’”

I’m part of the two-year-old  second iteration of the Sister Grandma’s group.

We gathered on Monday at Ellie’s cabin on a lake, planning to swim, sun, and go boating. The cloudy and cool afternoon kept us indoors most of the day instead.

We talked about obstacles we faced in coming that day, and what keeps us coming back every month. Our conversation ranged over many other topics too, and we came away richer for the time together.

The NYTimes author speaks for me, and I would guess for the others, when she says, “I used to think that one didn’t make friends as one got older, but I’ve learned that the opposite happens.” I’ve made wonderful new friends in this group.

I love this sentence too: “The key to life is resilience, and I’m old enough to make such a bald statement.” Indeed.

I meant to take a picture of the group on Monday, and totally forgot. I promise one soon, maybe after our next meeting.

Are you in a group that meets regularly to discuss, read, or write? Are you making new friends, whatever your age?


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. Great blog, Catherine – I enjoyed the day with all of us so much!

  2. Appreciated your sermon, both the Igbo and the Black Lives Matter part. And yes, I belong to a couple groups, one a book study group at a church, and another a group of 8 that Julie and I created when we retired. One of the retirement books that I use in my retirement workshops for clergy says that if you cannot find a group to be a part of, create one yourself. That’s what we did and we value it a lot. The host decides the topic for discussion and sends out readings or links to readings to begin the discussion.