Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Eighty-two Chibok Girls Released

Eighty-two Chibok Girls Released

A few of the Chibok girls released a few days ago, from CNN Newsource online.

A few of the Chibok girls released a few days ago, from CNN NewSource Online.

You probably already know the exciting news from Nigeria this past weekend. President Buhari had campaigned on promises to defeat Boko Haram and attack the country’s long-standing corruption. He needs victories, the NY Times said.

“Over the weekend he got one: ‘Dozens of the nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped three years ago by Boko Haram were released, by far the biggest break in a case that shocked the nation and the world,’ ” the NY Times reported.

Negotiations apparently had gone on since the release of 21 girls a few months ago, I read in the Guardian article. The girls were taken to Abuja where they were greeted by President Buhari.

I’m teaching 400 Years of Nigerian History at Fairfield Bigelow Center for Senior Activities. The class meets once a week for six weeks. I opened class at 10 am on Monday morning with, “Have you heard the news?” Everyone knew what I meant.

They were eager to learn more. I had no new information, but I gave a little history of Boko Haram. I’ll talk about it again at the final class in two weeks.

President Buhari at end of his first year

President Buhari at end of his first year

I did remind the class that thousands of women, men, and children who’ve been kidnapped are still held. And famine is threatening the area.

Buhari’s Health

Soon after greeting the released girls, President Buhari flew back to London for medical reasons, leaving the country wondering. His wife has said people should not worry.

But he has attended few cabinet meetings since he returned from London a few weeks ago. He has hardly been seen in public.

Former President Musa Yar'Adua who died in 2010.

Former President Musa Yar’Adua who died in 2010.

Nigerians remember Musa Yar’Adua. He was elected President in 2006 and inaugurated on May 29, 2007. He became ill during his second year in office. For several months he was out of the country for treatment but did not turn power over to his vice-president, leaving a power vacuum.

Finally the legislature confirmed Goodluck Jonathan as President. Yar’Adua died on February 9, 2010.

President Buhari has behaved differently. He has turned over power to his vice-president, relieving fears over a power vacuum. But I think the people of Nigeria would like to know what health problem he is facing. I would too!

Racism in Westport? In the U.S.?

Let me start with Westport. Dan Woog’s blog 06880 has a story today related by David, a Westport resident.

David was upset by what his nanny told him a few days ago. “Someone she identified as a police officer asked her for her ‘papers’ while waiting at the Westport train station. It happens that she is Latina. It also happens that she is a citizen of these United States of America.”Image result for westport ct train station

He contacted the police to report the incident. “Westport Chief of Police Foti Koskinas and Deputy Chief Vincent Penna strongly believe that whoever harassed our nanny is not a Westport police officer,” David wrote.

Chief Foti also confirmed that he did not support such an act. Given the conversation TEAM Westport had with Chief Foti recently, I agree.

David assumes the person who questioned his nanny acted out of racism, questioning the right of a Latina woman to be at the train station. He encourages us all to be watchful. He says he believes, “the current climate necessitates vigilance toward every incursion on our civil liberties no matter how benign.”

I’m with him!

Sister Grannies on White Privilege

On Monday evening seven of our Sister Grannies met to read and discuss opinions on White Privilege. Out of six of the white women, two were unclear what privilege their whiteness gave them.

The one Black woman answered. “You said your father worked hard to save and buy the house where you grew up. If he had not been white, he  may not have been able to buy in that neighborhood  – realtors or neighbors could have prevented him – or get the mortgage to buy.”

She said, “You had access to better schools because of the move.” She related the story of her grandfather who could pass for white and had to be the buyer for their own house. When her own darker-skinned family moved in, the neighbors burned the house.

I added examples from Peggy McIntosh’s essay on what our whiteness provides us. “Never being followed in a store, not being questioned when using a credit card, and walking without fear anywhere in town, are a few of the privilege I have,” I said.

I went further and spoke about the term “White Supremacy,” which we used at the Unitarian Sunday morning service. We joined over 600 other Unitarian-Universalist churches taking a stand against white supremacy. The service was billed as a “disrupter.”

Rev. John said he was uncomfortable at first with the term white supremacy. But he had come to understand its importance for us. It does not mean we are white supremacists, but that we live in a culture that operates on the premise. To be effective against racism, we must be “disrupters” of the system.

Three Hijabies from CNN and AlJazeera

Three Hijabies from CNN and AlJazeera

I will continue to use my white privilege to combat our white supremacist culture. I don’t always know how. I welcome your suggestions.

Barbie Dolls Wearing Hijab

CNN Style has a wonderful story about a Nigerian medical scientist who has posted picture of Barbie wearing Hijab on Instagram. She said, “I thought it was really important for a doll to be dressed like how I would be.”

Her doll, called “Hijarbie . . . offers Muslim girls a relatable role model.” You can see the story and pictures of the dolls at CNN Style.


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. Pingback: Okey Ndibe's Memoir and Its Intriguing Title ⋆ Catherine Onyemelukwe

  2. That is such good news about the girls’ release. One wishes it had been all of them. I guess Boko H retains some as bargaining chips. But this is still very, very good, moving in a good direction.

    I have been limiting my exposure to news, especially on weekends, for the sake of my health and peace of mind. And I took a 4-day weekend this time. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Very interesting article, Catherine. Thanks for sharing this important information about the kidnapped girls.