New Canaan Library Author Talk
The audience of about 35 people at my New Canaan Library Author Talk on Monday evening was enthusiastic and full of interesting questions.
As people were leaving one audience member said, “Why do you use the word ‘tribes’ to describe Nigeria’s ethnic groups? Isn’t that outdated?”
The person speaking was an Igbo woman. My daughter has also said I should not use the term “tribe.”
Both daughter Beth and audience member Pat say use “ethnic group.”
“Tribe,” they say, has derogatory connotations and should be put to rest. Pat repeated her thoughts in a comment she posted. She said she loved the talk and it took her down memory lane – she’s been in this country for many years! Then she said,
“My only suggestion is to drop the use of tribes in favor of ethnic groups as tribes connotes negative stereotypes and backwardness about non western societies. The Igbo people are well-traveled and highly educated and I can’t imagine how tribe best describes them.
I use the word “tribes” because I see it in many documents. But maybe they are all out of date, as Pat suggested! (see article below about Igbo names)
And I just found that the WordPress spell-check calls “Tribe” bias language! Maybe it’s time to concede!
What do you think on the question of ethnic group or tribe?
Boko Haram Militants in Rehab
Russell in Cincinnati sent me a link to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The story highlighted Usman, a former Boko Haram member, who is, “among 95 Boko Haram members trying to repent by surrendering their weapons and participating in a government program to de-radicalize them and assimilate them into society.”
This program is part of President Buhari’s efforts to end Boko Haram’s violence.
More than 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million others displaced in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger.
There is a sense in Nigeria that many, if not most, of the Boko Haram fighters are pressured to join the terrorist group when there is no other viable opportunity to earn a living. So there is sympathy toward a program allowing them to re-enter society.
After the rehabilitation officers learn what they can, the former fighters begin the rehab program. It includes, “counseling and vocational classes in tailoring, farming, auto repair and other skills. The aim is to allow them to earn enough so they’re not tempted to go back to Boko Haram.”
Igbo Names and Their Meanings
In my second book, now in the hands of six beta readers, I have a chapter about Igbo names. The other day I found a description of the importance of Igbo names in this lovely piece.
The Guardian article begins, “The Igbo are one of the three major tribes of Nigeria.” A good example of what I mean about seeing the term used – see the first part of this post!
The writer says, “Our [Igbo] names bear a message, a meaning, a story, an observation, a history, a life experience or a prayer. They embody a collective of my people’s rich heritage and provide a window into our value systems and life philosophies.
The article describes the importance of the naming ceremony. The grandparents call on the gods and ancestors and announce the chosen name. There are libations of wine again to honor the ancestors. Then comes breaking of kola, followed by speeches.
For our first son, the event was all afternoon and continued into the evening. During the ceremony the stub of our son’s umbilical cord was buried in the compound to tie him to his home forever.
One of my favorite Igbo names is Nkiruka, the name given to our granddaughter. It’s usually shortened to Nkiru for everyday use. It is one of the 10 names the article explains:
NKIRUKA | THE FUTURE IS GREATER THAN THE PAST
What lays ahead of you is far greater than what is behind. She looks ahead for greater things to come.
Gloria Johnson-Powell ’58: #PoweredByMountHolyoke
The Mount Holyoke Alumnae LinkedIn group shared a piece about Gloria Johnson-Powell ’58. The post said, “She organized for the Civil Rights movement as a student, and became a key figure in researching health inequalities among disenfranchised women and children of color living in Milwaukee. As a child psychiatrist, she was one of the first African American women to gain tenure at Harvard Medical School.”
I found more about her in an earlier Mount Holyoke publication. In that piece she related that she had thought of leaving medical school to become more active in the civil rights movement. But someone convinced her otherwise!
“It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself who changed her mind.” She recalled that she was at a meeting of student organizers when, “He banged his hand on the table, pointed his finger at me, and said, ‘You will stay in school because one of these days we’re going to need you.’ ”
Wikipedia has an entry for her.
Her book Black Monday’s Children: A Study Of The Effects Of School Desegregation On The Self-Concepts Of Southern Children is an important text in child psychology.