Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Mother’s Day

Women and Children Rescued

There have been several stories recently of women and children rescued from Boko Haram. One reporter from the BBC, Will Ross, was able to interview some of the rescued people. He relates their frightful stories.

report on the Nigerian military says they have used air and ground offenses against Boko Haram strongholds in the Sambisa Forest, and in a report from two days ago the military announced that 1000 women and children have been rescued through the air and ground offensive.

Another report a day later says that the rescued civilians had no idea there had been elections in the country.

Boko Haram victims

Rescued women and children, by Sunday Alamba, AP, from NPR website

Care for the Rescued

Today NPR had a report focused on the care the rescued women and children are getting. Susan Brink, the reporter, interviewed Dr. Theresa Betancourt, director of the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health,

Many of the teens and women are pregnant. They need maternal care and will certainly need help rejoining their communities. The United Nations Population Fund is assisting.

I was cheered by this statement from Dr. Betancourt near the end of the interview: “I think Nigeria has a health system that is higher functioning than many other areas where children have been involved with armed groups. They have professionals who are leaders in global mental health and within the country.”

But everyone is still hoping for word on the Chibok girls, and so far there is none.

Who Will Hold Office Under Buhari?

In an article in the online SypGhana I read that Nigerian women are urging Buhari to include some of their number in his administration.

Hajia Talatu Ibrahim, one of the leaders of the women in support of transparency

Hajia Talatu Ibrahim, one of the leaders of the women in support of transparency

Hajia Talatu Ibrahim, a leader of Nigerian Women for Transparency and Good Governance, said, “it [is] imperative . . to harness the enviable potentials of some of the Nigerian women, whom according to her, have distinguished themselves in the service of the country and the society in their different capacities.” She continued, “. .this would help give the women a sense of belonging in the emerging new Nigeria.”

Yes – I agree. Not just because the women helped get Buhari elected, though apparently they did that, but because women have skills that men sometimes lack or forget to use, like the ability to compromise, to see the larger good, and to work together.

In addition to calls for women to be given roles in the new government, the Igbos are making their own requests. I’ve just read in that, “Important Igbo leaders including retired army generals, led by the former president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Dozie Ikedife, have told the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari to give the Igbos a place in his administration, even though they failed to vote for him.”

I admire their chutzpah! They have a point. They said Buhari is now their president too. He will govern the whole country, including those who didn’t help elect him.

left to right, Clem's cousin Isaiah, Clem, me, Dozie

left to right, Clem’s cousin Isaiah, Clem, me, Dozie, with our amazing cake!

You may remember seeing Dr Dozie Ikedife’s name before – he was a key figure in our wedding 50 years ago, and chairman of the anniversary party a few months ago, in December in Nanka. In the picture he is on my left.

We also visited him in his home in Nnewi where he runs a hospital.

Sweet Mother

There was a popular song in Nigeria in the ’70’s called Sweet Mother. Everyone knew it and everyone sang it.

I heard it most recently at the London Conference on Igbo Women when one of the speakers mentioned it. Once she named it, of course she had to sing it, and we, of course had to join in!

The time before that was at Katia Ekesi’s 70th birthday party in Rome!

I thought of “Sweet Mother” as I looked at the UNICEF reminder for Mother’s Day. I was posting to my other blog, Grandma Charity Challenge, to encourage charitable gifts in honor of mothers and daughters.

My daughter and her family are coming. She’s taking the train from South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she’s attending her final board meeting as a Mount Holyoke trustee, and her husband is driving with Nkiru and Ikem from Philadelphia.

I bought a UNICEF baby-weighing scale as my Mother’s Day gift for my daughter. After I gave my credit card information UNICEF gave me a printable card. I could have chosen an email greeting for her, but I’d rather give her the card on Sunday before we go to brunch at Bernard’s in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

What will you do for Mother’s Day?

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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