I shared the tragic news of our nephew Emeka’s death in California with you in my last post. My husband Clem and I were there when I wrote.
We came back Sunday night, arriving home Monday morning, tired but relieved that we had gone, seen Emeka’s mother and sister, and exchanged stories about him.
The detectives are still not sure what happened, but the likeliest scenario is that the shooter had come to the apartment building to see his girlfriend who wouldn’t let him in. He was enraged, maybe drunk or high, and passed by the laundry room on his way out.
Emeka was in the laundry room taking his clothes from the dryer in preparation for an early morning departure for Nigeria.
From the sounds people heard and the injury the man had, it seems he and Emeka scuffled. He dropped the gun which went off by accident and hit him. He picked up the gun and shot Emeka six times. He later went to the hospital for his injured arm where he was apprehended. There was a warrant out for him for other offenses.
I’ve always loved the name Emeka. The full name is Chukwuemeka which means God has done well, or God is great.
And I loved this nephew. His death leaves a hole in my heart.
His sister said on Facebook, “Wise beyond your years, kind, peaceful, so Zen-like we used to joke. Your spirituality was infectious. Epitome of cool and charisma.”
Our 16-year old granddaughter Nkiru posted a picture of him with her on Instagram. It was from our wedding anniversary in the village at Christmas a year ago. She said, “RIP to the funniest uncle anyone could ever ask for. You lightened up every room and I will miss your presence more than anything. I love you fly high.”
I’ll report on my Meadow Ridge book talk next time, with photos, after I deliver the books I promised.
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Gathering
On Thursday evening I hosted a gathering for ten Mount Holyoke alumnae who live in the area, mainly from the town of Westport.
Potluck dinners are always interesting and delicious.
We ate very well. The best was an Indian appetizer made with eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, and a variety of other ingredients and spices, to spread on pita bread. When Sujata asked if I wanted the left-over, I didn’t hesitate.
Conversation ranged as widely as our ages – from the class of 1960 to 1998. A few of the topics we talked about:
- college activities then and now
- professors from our own days and now
- Japanese internment
- drama of teen children
- employment challenges
- and a little bit of politics.
Missing from the picture is Alanna, my neighbor across the street, who took the photo.
Pronouncing an Igbo Name
Nkem Ifejika is a newscaster at BBC. He writes about his inability to speak Igbo, his ancestors’ language, in their online magazine.
The piece is headed, “Identity 2016: Why I stopped mispronouncing my Igbo name.”
He describes many reasons why Igbo is becoming less relevant in everyday life, and is even in danger of dying out.
Igbos are often outward-looking, so want to speak the languages that will help them adapt to other places than their homeland.
By habit, he says, Hausa people in Nigeria when they meet other Hausas, will speak their language. The same for Yoruba people. But Igbos will often end up speaking English together.
And many people do as he had been doing – pronouncing their names in a way that makes it easier for others to grasp and repeat.
My husband often does this, while I insist on saying our name correctly.
In my book talks and presentations, I start out by teaching people how to say Onyemelukwe, with the correct tones.
Recently Ifejika realized that since he is proud of his name he should use it properly!
He also found that he wants to pass on his Igbo heritage to his son.
“If you’d asked me my name 10 years ago I’d have given an Anglicised pronunciation – one I learned from my British teachers and fellow students, rather than the one I learned from my parents.”
“I look back on those days with a hint of shame. But now, when I’m on air, I say my name properly, with the correct tones, and with pride. I can and do forgive other people for getting my name wrong, but I should not be mispronouncing my own name.”
I congratulated him on Twitter for his decision. If you look at the article, you can hear him explain how to say his name.
An Historic Name Stays at Yale
Yale University’s President, Peter Salovey, sent a message yesterday to all members of the Yale community, of which I am one, with my MPPM (now MBA) degree in 1988.
He reports major decisions about residential college names and a title reached after months of consultation.
“The title of “master” for the person heading a residential college will change to “head of college.”
But the most watched decision, I believe, was about the name of Calhoun College, named for a U.S. vice-president who was “an ardent defender of slavery.” He announced that Yale will keep the name.
He said, “Ours is a nation that continues to refuse to face its own history of slavery and racism. Yale is part of this history . . . Erasing Calhoun’s name from a much-beloved residential college risks masking this past, downplaying the lasting effects of slavery, and substituting a false and misleading narrative . . . Retaining the name forces us to learn anew and confront one of the most disturbing aspects of Yale’s and our nation’s past. I believe this is our obligation as an educational institution.”
Do you agree with his reasoning?