Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Early Fireworks Celebration


4th of July fireworks in Westport, a few days early

Westport’s 4th of July Fireworks

Westport and the surrounding towns agree every year about which nights to have their fireworks so they don’t interfere with each other.
This year Westport’s fireworks were on June 30! Not even July, but still a great way to celebrate the eve of July 1.
We live about two miles from the beach. We’re on the corner of a small side road. The main road to Compo Beach where the fireworks are held runs in front of our house.

In past years the cars have come to a slow crawl by 7 pm or a few minutes after, all lining up to get into the parking areas which are opened up near the beach to accommodate all of us who want to watch.  The fireworks usually start around 9.


Fireworks at Compo Beach

At 7:30 last night the cars were still moving well. But we decided we should start anyway. Less than 1/4 mile later the traffic came to a halt! It took us over an hour to get to Compo Beach and a parking place.
Just before 9 the first booms sounded from the barge near the shore.  Each burst of the display was greeted with appreciative oohs and aahs from us and the rest of the crowd.
We got home again by 10:45, having spent over an hour to cover the two miles each way!
Still worth it. Do you watch 4th of July fireworks?

Noiseless Lagos?

AllAfrica publishes articles from “more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic,” they say on their website.
Westport Fireworks

Fireworks on June 30th, for 4th of July

They always have fascinating bits of information about Nigeria, like this tidbit that says 70 churches, 20 mosques, and a few hotels and beer parlors in Lagos State were closed for noise violations.

But I’m puzzled by the General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Bola Shabi’s statements. First he said we have reduced noise by 25% but he doesn’t tell us 25% of what.
Then he says, “Enforcement is a continuous exercise and we have set a target for ourselves. We want to ensure that Lagos is noise-free by the year 2020,” he said.
Lagos free of noise? Whatever does he mean?
Either This Day which produced the story did a poor reporting job, or Bola Shabi doesn’t know how to talk about noise pollution.
I wouldn’t know either, but then I’m not in the field of environmental protection.

Stella Uzochukwu on STEM 

June 30th Fireworks

Double display of fireworks

Last time I told you a little about Stella Uzochukwu’s efforts to promote interest in STEM specially for girls in Nigeria. I interviewed her by email.
I asked about starting out. She said, “It’s not difficult to establish an NGO in Nigeria. What is difficult is the running of the NGO. We have been up and running for over three years and we are yet to get the very first funding.”
Her costs include paying staff, buying fuel for the generator, and rent during school holidays.
Sounds like similar problems to nonprofits in this country!
I asked if the Ministry of Education supports her. She said no, “even though we are in collaboration with them and we submit a periodic report of our activities to them.”
I hope she is able to find a solution. STEM programs are so important for girls and boys, but especially girls who have few role models of women in technical fields.
Westport Fireworks

4th of July fireworks. I love how they seem to come at you.

Chimamanda and Privacy

Nigeria’s best-known author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave birth to her first child, a daughter, a few months ago. Although news of her pregnancy had come out, she never spoke about it.
In an interview with the Financial Times, she explains why. I found the news courtesy of Ainehi Edoro’s informative blog, Brittle Paper.
Edoro  said, “To some people, this silence seemed a bit unusual given the African cultural practice of publicly celebrating motherhood and the global celebrity culture of publicizing pregnancy and motherhood.”
I was certainly in the camp of those who thought it unusual. But now I understand. And I think she made a wise decision.
Adichie said in the interview, quoted by Edoro, “I just feel like we live in an age when women are supposed to perform pregnancy. We don’t expect fathers to perform fatherhood. I went into hiding. I wanted it to be as personal as possible.”
She succeeded. The interviewer apparently didn’t even know she’d had a baby!

GA Follow Up

Saturday night at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly is the time of the Ware Lecture. I’ve never checked out why it has that name, or I’ve known and forgotten. I hope someone will enlighten me. (Marilyn? Lynda? Randy? Kent?)27 Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett, author, journalist, and broadcaster, gave the Ware Lecture this year.

She produces On Being, which I listen to either on Sunday morning or more often as a podcast during the week. Do you listen?

I see that “On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, a Webby Award-winning website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?”

She began her lecture by saying how humbled she was when she learned that fifty years earlier the Ware Lecture was given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

She gave us three encouragements. “Words matter,” she said. We need words that are expansive and inclusive. Second, “Rediscover listening as civic art.” That was clear! And third, “Dare to name that which we want to bring in.” Don’t be afraid to use the word ‘love.’

Happy 4th of July to you.

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. Dear Catherine thanks for sharing, I do like to know how other culture celebrate
    what is dear to them.
    Thanks for sharing on GA. I do like to know that women are moving forward.

    • I appreciate your comment, Olga. I like to let people know how we celebrate. I was just writing for tomorrow’s post about a very different celebration – the breaking of the fast at the end of each day during Ramadan.

  2. The slow traffic and parking are the reasons I don’t attend Westport’s fireworks. I used to go to Weston’s which are smaller and much easier to get to.

    I too love Krista Tippett and listen to On Being. I wish I’d known she was going to give the Ware Lecture at GA.

    Happy 4th of July to you too, my friend.

    • Next year we’re leaving earlier for the fireworks, we said, as we sat in the traffic. We took supper this time and were still eating when the fireworks started. Unless we have a car full of family, you’d be most welcome to come with us! A good time for unhurried conversation!

  3. hi Catherine,
    this link gives the history behind the Ware Lectures:

    • Thank you, Dorcy. Now I know the origin of the Ware Lecture. I’m glad it was a gift by a woman! I didn’t count how many women and how many men have given the Ware Lecture, but it looked like a reasonably fair representation of the genders.