Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Gender Equality by 2030?

Mansa Musa, Empire of Mali

Mansa Musa, Empire of Mali

Nigeria: Slavery to Superrich

I presented the first session of my six-week class on Nigerian history this afternoon for the Lifetime Learners Institute in Norwalk.

Today I talked about pre-European African empires, including Mali and its famous leader Mansa Musa. He made the hajj to Mecca from West Africa in 1224, distributing gold along his route. He many gifts in Egypt disrupted the price of gold for several years afterwards, according to the website Black Past. I used this popular image which must have come from someone’s imagination.

Samuel Ajayi Crowther, captured as slave, freed, returned to Nigeria as missionary

Samuel Ajayi Crowther, captured as slave, freed, returned to Nigeria as missionary

I talked about the famous Nigerian, Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who was the first bishop on the Niger in the Christian Missionary Society, CMS, which is now called the Anglican Church in Nigeria.

Gender Equality – Good for Everyone

The UN has been in the news. Countries reported to the General Assembly on their progress on the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. There has been progress in lowering maternal deaths, improved access to education, and others. But much work remains.

UN Women has been a major participant in developing the new goals for 2030. Several goals are related to gender equality with its own campaign called 50-50 by 2030.

UN Women and the People’s Republic of China co-hosted an event: the “Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action.” They’ve called on countries to commit publicly to the goal of gender equality.

As countries make commitments, their comments are added to the list. I just looked again – Nigeria isn’t there yet! I hope it will be in another day or so.

But the U.S. is. Obama said: “Within the United States, we are taking steps to support working families, encourage women and girls to pursue careers in the STEM fields, and provide additional opportunities for women entrepreneurs. But we know that much work remains … my Administration continues to work to advance the empowerment and education of women and girls here and abroad. It’s why we are dedicating additional resources to address violence against women and girls.

Small Town Feel

Dan Woog, writer of the blog 06880, asked if he could interview me for an article in Westport News. Of course I agreed. He asked some great questions. His story about me and my book appeared a few days ago.

Jack Mitchell Chairman of the Mitchells Family of Stores

Jack Mitchell Chairman of the Mitchells Family of Stores

This evening I went to a presentation at the Westport Library. I sat next to a woman I had met several years ago. She turned to me and said, “I just read about you! And here you are.”

I love the small town feel we have at events like the talk by Jack Mitchell. He spoke about the importance of hugging your customers and his book on the topic. He was such fun to hear and clearly loves telling his story.

More Condolences in Nigeria

Recently I wrote about the death of Azikiwe’s son and the controversy over his burial. Another relative of a famous Nigerian died recently, Hannah, the wife of Obafemi Awolowo, one of Nigeria’s most respected politicians.

This time there was no controversy. The wife of President Buhari paid a condolence visit to Mrs. Awolowo’s grand-daughter, the wife of Nigeria’s current Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo. Small world!

Wedding picture of Hanna and Obafemi Awolowo

Wedding picture of Hanna and Obafemi Awolowo

Azikiwe and Awolowo were probably the best-known names to all of us Peace Corps volunteers going to Nigeria in the early 1960’s. Both were extremely active in the political life of Nigeria leading up to independence in 1960 and both were leaders of their parties when I arrived in 1962.

Nollywood in the News

You’ve probably heard about Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry. It is thriving.

My friend Bart sent me this article today. It describes the low-cost films that dominated the genre for a few years. Now the industry is growing and producing higher budget films with better sound, production, and acting.

“A number of Nollywood directors have started to make higher quality films,” the writer says. “These are sometimes referred to as “New Nollywood”, New Nigerian Cinema, or the New Wave. These films are seen more widely than standard Nollywood fare and are accessible to non-African audiences.”

The films are popular all over Africa and in the diaspora, including in this country, though they have not yet broken through to the mainstream theaters. You may remember I wrote about the difficulty the distributor FilmOne had in getting distribution for the film made from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun.

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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  3. Your class sounds excellent. I hope it was well-received.
    I am reviewing Adichie’s book “Americanah” tonight for my book group, actually the second book group I have led on Americanah. I like that Chinaku is one of the first friends she acknowledges!
    I am going of DC for the mini-class reunion next week. Sorry you will not be there but you are traveling a lot I think.

    • Thank you, Anne. Yes, the class was well-received yesterday. The only complaint I’ve had is from my husband who thinks I should have written more about Samuel Ajayi Crowther in the blog post! I had an email a couple of days ago from another classmate who is seeking input about Americanah for her book group. I’ll send her email to you. Have fun in DC; sorry I can’t join you.

  4. You asked if we agreed that gender equality is good for everyone, and I say, “Amen, sister.” This is precisely the topic I am currently addressing in my own blog in the “Winners All” series of posts.

    • Thanks, Margaret. So glad you agree. I thought I had a link to your blog but can’t find it. Will you tell me and my readers what it is? Are you the author of many books on race, gender, and equality that I find in Amazon?