Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Dolls, Elections, Vaccines, and Book Talks

Bounty of Book Talks

I told you I would share news about upcoming speaking events which involve connections to dear old friends.

I hope to be in Park City, Utah sometime this spring. My high school friend Karen Sturdy Cassity lives there. When I spoke with her after about 55 years! of not being in touch, she told me she belongs to a couple of book groups and knows at least one indie book store that might welcome a talk. Over the Christmas holidays my publicist Aline Weiller was in Park City and met with Karen to put together some ideas. And it would be wonderful to see Karen.

Bass Harbor Gables

Bass Harbor Gables

My friend Bunny Watts has moved permanently to Bass Harbor, Maine, where she and her husband own and manage Bass Harbor Gables, lovely holiday rentals. She has been active in the music scene in the community too.

She has given my book to the local librarian who arranges programs. They are enthusiastic about my coming to speak during the summer when many visitors are in town, and I’m eager to see Bunny again.

Other events are scheduled for the next three months. I’ll update the ‘Speaking‘ page of my website tomorrow so you see everything that’s coming up.

I love speaking about Nigeria and about my memoir. Can you help?

Celebration of Life-Saving Vaccines

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was invited to submit a story to the Art of Saving A Life project, “paying tribute to the success of vaccines in changing lives. I was touched by her short story, just as Ainehi Edoro said I would be in her Brittle Paper blog post about it. The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I hope you will read the story – it’s really lovely. For me it was especially meaningful in the lead-up to the Nigerian elections, when tribe sometimes matters more than it should.

Delightful Dolls


Queens of Africa dolls, Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters/Landov

A few days ago I heard a piece on NPR about Nigerian dolls. A father in Nigeria was upset that his daughter only had white dolls and he decided to do something about it. So he created his own! They are selling well.

“The Queens of Africa dolls are based on Nigeria’s three largest groups — Nneka is Igbo, Wuraola is Yoruba, and Azeezah is Hausa — and each has traits that are meant to empower the girls who play with them. On the company’s website, there’s even a photo of the three dolls holding a #BringBackOurGirls sign,” I read in the NPR posting.

I am eager to see them myself.

My outdated wooden 'dolls'

My outdated wooden ‘dolls’

I do have wooden “dolls” that I take to my book talks to show the outfits they’re wearing. But they are outdated. I’d love to have the Queens of Africa!

Do you have dolls from countries you’ve visited or lived in?

Nigeria Election News

Today’s New York Times had a front page article about Nigeria’s election. Adam Nossiter, the reporter, says that a Buhari victory looks increasingly possible. It would be a major upset.

In Nigeria there are competing voices speaking out for one major candidate or the other in these last few weeks before the Nigerian elections. I tend to read about Igbo positions. (My Google Alerts are set for ‘Igbo’ and ‘Igbos’, so that’s what I see most. I’m setting another alert now for Nigerian elections so I’ll see other points of view.)

From a Sun reporter comes this statement about Igbo attitudes: “The . . com­mittee recently in­augurated to run the affairs of the Igbo apex body Ohanaeze Ndigbo [the phrase means Igbo leaders] has said that the Igbos have not yet decided on which presidential can­didate to support in the February 14 presidential election.”

But another publication reports on a group that says this ‘apex body’ has no right to speak for all Igbos; they urge Igbos to support Buhari. “The Igbo Diaspora Initiative for Buhari (IDIB) on Friday rejected the endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan by a group, the Eze Ndi Igbo northern chapter, for re-election.”

A third paper, The Guardian, has an article not in support of one or other candidate but asking that Igbos remain in the North for the election. ChannelsTV reported this too. Both said they expect this year to be different than 2011, when, “pockets of post-election violence in the northern part of the oil rich nation . . led to loss of lives and property”.

In past elections, many people have returned to their home states and towns to vote and to avoid contentious election activity. The leaders who spoke out asking Igbos to remain in place cite the Peace Pact I referred to in my last post.

ChannelsTV says, “The police, the electoral body and other stakeholders in the political sector had held series of meetings with politicians in different states, urging them to play by the rule and keep a non-violence pledge that would ensure that the election would be adjudged free, fair and credible.”

Loyal blog reader and Peace Corps colleague Lowell Fewster alerted me to an op-ed in The New York Times a few days ago. I had missed it. The writer, Tolu Ogunlesi, speaks out strongly against the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan.

He says, “Nigerians need to take the decisive action that their president has failed to offer. My hope is that on Valentine’s Day, when the election takes place, Nigerians will remember the missing girls of Chibok, and the dead residents of Baga and the refugees of the north, and vote out a man who has demonstrated, beyond doubt, that he cannot inspire confidence as a commander in chief.”

Strong words. Will The New York Times offer an opposing op-ed before elections? Or is the paper taking a position?

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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