Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Names and Photos With Meaning

Kenechi in Italy

Kenechi tasting his first espresso in Florence, summer 2010

What’s In a Name?

I was intrigued with the heading of this post from Brittle Paper for two reasons. First, the name Kelechi in her header jumped out at me. Our grandson is Kenechi. Kelechi is the same name, but in the Owerri dialect of Igbo, while Kenechi is from the Onitsha side of Igbo speakers. Do you remember the meaning of Chi which I wrote about in May?

Kene or Kele means greet or thank – it’s the imperative. So the name is ‘greet God’ or ‘thank God’.  I think it’s a lovely name.

Here’s our grandson Kenechi from the trip to Italy I made with him when he was 14. He’s now a sophomore at Cornell.

And the other reason I was interested in her heading? I wanted to know what the author Kelechi Njoku said about Nigerian reading culture. “The general consensus seems to be to read only what provides immediate, or at least, readily perceptible benefits. So people read the papers for the news; students read to pass exams. They also read inspirational literature to get advice they hope will improve their lives.” Maybe true for many people, but certainly not for our older son Chinaku who reads constantly, not for inspiration but for pleasure.

Too Many Photographs

Me on camel in 1963

On the camel in Niger, with the camel herder in control, during the trip with Roger and John in 1963

Fortunately we haven’t had to serve dinner at our dining room table for several weeks. The table is buried in photo albums and pictures.

In July I began to look for pictures for my book. I took out every photo album I have. Then I got out all the shoe boxes where I’d stored pictures.

When my sister came to visit we looked through the most important photo albums and found the “possibles.” After she left I looked through hundreds of other photos, sorting into categories and pulling out the likely candidates. I don’t know the dates of many, though I can usually remember the location.

I finally selected twenty photos for my book.  Here is one from 1963.

Mortars and pestles

Mortars and pestles for sale on the Lagos road.

Many pictures that I liked didn’t make the cut – not relevant for my story, or not distinctive enough.

The picture of the mortars and pestles didn’t make it.

How do you store your old photos? Have you digitized them? Do you look at old albums often?

Book Cover Has Tunnel Vision Hands

My book cover is done. I’m thrilled and relieved.

It’s by Miggs Burroughs, well-known and well-loved Westport artist.

Tunnel Vision, his 2014 installation in downtown Westport, is an amazing display of sixteen lenticular images of hands – the images change as you walk past and view them from different angles.

He included not just married couples like Clem and me, and my friends Harold Bailey and his wife Bernicestine McLeod, but a woman with her friend’s granddaughter. The older woman’s Holocaust tattoo shows in the image and then, as you move past, the child’s hands cover it.

I didn’t have a good photo of the image of our hands on the wall of the tunnel. So I searched.

Photo from Terrie's Blog

Our hands in the Tunnel Vision installation, from Terrie’s Blog, Tales of Terrie

I found this picture from the tunnel on another blog, called Tales of Terrie. I hope Terrie won’t mind that I used it. I wrote a comment on her blog to tell her that I was including it.

The first hands that you see in this photo are Clem’s and mine. They will be on the front cover of my book!



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: Pumpkins and Pessimism | Catherine Onyemelukwe

  2. Excited to see the final book! Congratulations!

  3. Love seeing my photo! Thanks, terrie