Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

How to Hear Highlife in Lagos Today

Sunny Ade

King Sunny Ade, beloved musician

Nigeria for Visitors

The New York Times had a wonderful article recently highlighting one of Nigeria’s best-known musicians, King Sunny Ade. It includes descriptions of popular venues where he and others have played and a list of three current spots for dance music.

I didn’t recognize those, but I so clearly remember the place I loved – Kakadu! There Victor Olaiya and E.C. Arinze brought us to the dance floor to step and sway to the beat of their highlife.

Here’s what I said in my memoir Nigeria Revisited My Life and Loves Abroad:

“Fred had been at the Science School for three years. He became my mentor on school issues and Nigerian life. He took me to the German Cultural Institute in downtown Lagos, which provided me with a couple of texts so I could photocopy exercises for my students. We started dating in October.

Victor Olaiya

Victor Olaiya, another beloved Nigerian music-maker

My days were full, and my nights became ever more exciting. Fred introduced me to Kakadu, a lively nightclub where the trumpeter Victor Olaiya led his band in highlife. This music, popular all over West Africa, could be fast or slow. But it always had a strong beat that made me want to dance all night. I learned to copy the swaying hips of the Nigerian women. When other volunteers came to Lagos, I took them to Kakadu, where we danced with abandon to the sensual music.”

I’ll keep the list of today’s hot spots to take with me on my next trip!

Americanah in Greenwich 

On Monday morning I spoke at Greenwich High School to about 100 students in two separate sessions. I am with one of the enthusiastic students in one photo. The talk was part of the school’s participation in the Town Reads project with Americanah as the selected book.

Greenwich High School with friends, and the scenery.

Greenwich High School with student, with teacher, and the gorgeous trees.

In the other photo I’m with one of the teachers who came up to me after the talk to say we shared so much. She was also a Peace Corps volunteer, and also married a host country national. I’d love to talk to her more.

Another teacher told me their headmaster was a former Peace Corps volunteer. And one teacher asked if I would consider speaking again. I would! I couldn’t resist taking the photo of the trees by the school as I was getting ready to drive home.

Thursday night is the Greenwich Arts Council talk at 7 pm.

Chicken in the Kitchen

I absolutely love the title of this book by Nnedi Okorafor, an Igbo writer of children’s literature. I read about it in the interview Ainehi Edorho did with the publisher.

Chicken in the Kitchen, a story of Igbo masquerades.

Chicken in the Kitchen, a story of Igbo masquerades.

Alice Curry says on the company Lantana Publishing website, “Lantana Publishing is an independent publishing company committed to addressing the widespread lack of cultural diversity in children’s publishing in the UK.” I like that clear mission.

Do you think she knows about the movement We Need Diverse Books in this country? I’ll write to her or post a message through Ainehi.

I ordered the book though I was a little surprised at the price. It’s only available in the U.K. and with shipping came to nearly £12.

Life Goes On, Even After Bombing

My friend Laura sent me this interview on our local public radio station WSHU which I had missed. The program director and host of Morning Edition, Tom Kuser, is interviewing Ebong Udoma, a senior reporter who was in Hartford for the last few years.

He is now in Nigeria, his home country, “helping to develop a multi-media news agency, called GoTel, based in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Ebong Udoma at the microphone.

Ebong Udoma at the microphone.

He was in Nigeria’s capital (not capitol as the transcript said) Abuja during the recent bombing. Tom asked him what it was like sending young reporters out in this level of violence.

Ebong replied, “They don’t have a choice. It’s where they live. It’s their community. And to an outsider it often seems a lot more dangerous than it is because life goes on in these areas, believe it or not.”

I thought of that reply today in my class at Lifetime Learners. Kathy asked how life has gone on in Nigeria despite the atrocities during military regimes, especially Abacha’s. I said the same; it often seems worse to outsiders.

Nigeria’s Superrich

Next week’s class at Lifetime Learners is the last of the my six-week session, Four Hundred Years of Nigerian History, Slavery to Superrich. I’ve promised to talk about the superrich for the last class. I have a few ideas of who the people are, but will need to do some research. Any suggestions?

I’ll talk about ‘419’. Are you familiar with that term? A few people did become rich from it.


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: 10 Wealthiest NigeriansCatherine Onyemelukwe | Catherine Onyemelukwe

  2. Today’s blog was especially interesting, Catherine. I love the idea of that children’s book and the cover too. I hope you’ll bring it to Baker’s Dozen when it arrives. Also wanted to tell you that a very close friend of mine, who lives in California but was visiting here, noticed that I was reading Nigeria Revisited and asked me to send it on to her when I’ve finished reading it! I might just send her a new copy of her own instead. Good luck with next week’s final class.


    • Thank you so much, Elizabeth. I will bring the book to Baker’s Dozen when I get it. And thanks for enlarging the reading population of Nigeria Revisited! You’ll read here how the last class goes.