Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker


Conversation after the talk, Greenwich Arts Council

Conversation after the talk, Greenwich Arts Council

Greenwich Arts Council

I had a lively audience on Thursday evening at the Greenwich Arts Council. Everyone had read Americanah, the ‘Town Read,’ and were happy to hear Chimamanda’s greetings.

The audience members had lots of questions. That’s always fun for me. And several signed up to receive my blog – welcome, new readers!

Halloween, Few Trick or Treaters

Me with the mask for Trick or Treaters

Me with the mask for Trick or Treaters

I held an Igbo mask over my face as I opened the door and held out the bowl of candy to our Trick or Treaters tonight. I don’t think I frightened anyone, though a few children looked a little surprised.

I think the parents enjoyed seeing it. My daughter had told me it was scary when I Face-Timed with her earlier. Do you think it’s scary?

Buhari at India-Africa Summit

President Buhari and Prime Minister Modi

President Buhari and Prime Minister Modi

President Buhari has been in India for the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit. Nearly fifty countries were represented.

Ventures Africa reported on the speech Buhari gave. He reiterated themes he’s spoken on before – attacking corruption, defeating Boko Haram, and instituting solid governance with improved employment opportunities.

One of the online papers I see frequently is Mail & Guardian Africa; the picture of Buhari with Indian Prime Minister Modi  is from that publication.

In an article two days ago their reporter said that there have been nearly 1,500 airstrikes against Boko Haram in the last two months.

The Air Force head expressed confidence that Buhari’s target of defeating Boko Haram by year’s end is realistic. “’From what we have seen, it is possible to meet this deadline, and we are working towards meeting that December deadline,’ Chief of Air Staff Sadiq Baba Abubakar told reporters in the town of Maiduguri on Thursday.”

From the same article I learned that Buhari’s 36 nominees for ministerial positions have been approved by the Senate. About time!

Most are experienced politicians. I wonder if they will they have the technical, financial, and economic expertise that the country needs.

I found that Time also had a piece about the India-Africa Summit. I learned there that India was seeking support of African nations for its goal of being made a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Poverty in the American South

Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux, highly regarded travel writer and former Peace Corps volunteer, had an op-ed in The New York Times on Oct. 2. I missed it at the time, but saw a reference a couple of days later. The comments made me curious.

He writes about the “grotesquely wealthy American chief executives” who announce that they are donating large amounts of money to help alleviate poverty. Yet it is their actions, he says, that have impoverished so many American towns where manufacturing jobs have disappeared.

He says, “When Mr. Cook of Apple said he was going to hand over his entire fortune to charity, he was greatly praised by most people, but not by me. It so happened that at that time I was traveling up and down Tim Cook’s home state of Alabama, and all I saw were desolate towns and hollowed-out economies, where jobs had been lost to outsourcing, and education had been defunded by shortsighted politicians.”

He looks at the Clinton Foundation website and finds a headline: Saving Africa’s Elephants. “Since I had recently been in rural Arkansas, I thought: If you want to help closer to home, how about the black family farmers in the Delta, who — rebuffed by banks, trifled with by the United States Department of Agriculture, squeezed by vast corporate farms — are struggling to survive?”

Deep South, Theroux's latest book

Deep South, Theroux’s latest book

Theroux has just published Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads.

Geoffrey Ward reviewed it in The NY Times Sunday Book Review on October 4. He found the narrative sometimes repetitive and sometimes too slow. “I lost count of the number of times he suggests that a crossroads cluster of beat-up buildings reminds him of villages he had known in Africa,” he said.

However he admired Theroux’s ability to paint with words, giving us vivid descriptions of what he sees.

“But in the end,” he wrote, “it’s Theroux’s remarkable gift for getting strangers to reveal themselves that makes going along for this ride worthwhile.”

The Washington Post had a less favorable review. Jack Hitt said, “His big discovery is that the poor areas of the Deep South are heartbreakingly poor — which is true, and was true when Robert Kennedy’s 1968 Appalachian tour, Walker Evans’s photographs, the National Emergency Council’s 1938 “Report on Economic Conditions in the South” and even Harriet Beecher Stowe’s memoir “Palmetto-Leaves” brought attention, in their own ways, to the arduous lives of Dixie rustics.”

He has no patience when Theroux demonstrates his knowledge of literature about the South. Unlike Ward in the NYTimes, Hitt finds nothing redeeming in Theroux’s latest work.

I’d like to read it to form my own opinion. What about you?

My Mind Plays Tricks

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson, by Brian Minkoff, London Pixels.

Yesterday I received an email from The New York Times suggesting recipes for my weekend cooking. I sometimes check out the recipes and have tried several.

But the title of this email surprised me: “Cooking: Recipes for the Weekend and News from Nigeria.”

What did Nigeria have to do with cooking? I was puzzled.

It wasn’t until I’d scrolled to the end, searching for the Nigeria news, that I went back and found what it really said: “Cooking: Recipes for the Weekend, and News from Nigella.”

That would be Nigella Lawson, well-known British food writer and TV host whose recipes are often included!

Does your mind ever convince you that you saw something that wasn’t really there?

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. This actually came from Steve Clapp, but came to me as email instead of blog comments.
    I think you follow the FON list-serve, although I may be wrong. I posted a report of my encounter with the film “Concussion,” which will reach theaters next month. As you may know, the first forensic pathologist who discovered the harm caused by repetitive hits to football players is a Nigerian immigrant. The NFL wanted to ignore or discredit him.
    My first encounter with “Concussion” was a preview in a movie theater. Just now I was watching/listening to a YouTube presentation of Gustav Mahler’s 8th symphony conducted by Leonard Bernstein. It was interrupted for a lengthy preview of “Concussion.” The Nigerian is played by Will Smith, so they’re going all out for a successful movie.

    • Thanks, Steve. I assume you meant this to be a comment, so I plopped it into the comment section! Yes, I do follow the Friends of Nigeria listserve and have seen the lengthy conversation about football and rugby. I thought about posting some of the comments, but there was so much else, so I didn’t! Will you go to watch the movie?