Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

New Subscribers Welcome

Welcome New Readers

Three talks done! I’m excited to welcome new readers to this blog. Several people who heard me speak at the Westport Senior Center  signed on. Then several more from the talk I gave the next evening for the Mount Holyoke Club of Greater Bridgeport, with classmates coming from as far as New Haven, asked to join.

On Thursday a week later I spoke to the class my friend and classmate Anne is teaching at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement. I asked if her students would like to be added to the subscriber list, and they agreed.

If you are one of the newcomers, please click the link in the paragraphs above to see the blog post and a picture related to your own event.

I hope you’ll stay, enjoy the posts, tell me what you’d like to read about, and make comments. (You have to scroll all the way down to comment.) And then if you decide you’d rather not receive the email and links to the blog post, you can unsubscribe.

Wole Soyinka Speaks Out on Chibok Girls


Wole Soyinka spoke about Chibok girls

Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s only Nobel Laureate in Literature, was honored by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) at their 2014 award ceremony in Oxford, UK, in August. I read his acceptance speech on Brittle Paper, a blog I’ve mentioned before. He wasn’t present to receive the award but had recorded his remarks so his comments were given in his own voice.

He said, “We are living in a world, it seems, where it is not only possible, but is considered virtuous by some to abduct two hundred girl pupils from a sanctuary of learning in the name of religion and the world is rendered impotent. We are reduced to pious incantations such as ‘These aggressors are not true followers of the faith.'”  You can listen and read his speech at the same time.

In the latter part of his speech he says, “We need to deploy a new language whose message is: the world is not your jurisdiction. Each time some wound to religious sensibilities is used to unleash terror on innocent communities, the obvious response should be:  invade and inundate that space with the very material that is alleged to have given offence.”

He leaves me a little confused. Why does he think that an “aerial bombardment” of the very things that cause offense will make the radicals change their minds or cease their activities?

But I do like his last two brief paragraphs and his dedication to the missing schoolgirls:

“Above all, however – ACT!  That imperative is upon us, will it or not.  Act in a resolute manner that demonstrates that humanity is not so supine that it will absorb obscene affronts to its defining right of dignified existence.

I thank you for the honour of this Award. I dedicate it to the Prisoners of Innocence in the forest of Sambisa, Nigeria.”

Old Enough to Start School?

In my last post, I asked if you knew how children in colonial Nigeria and in other colonies too, before birth certificates were available, knew when they were old enough to start school. Actually the question is – how did the teachers or the headmaster know when to admit children?

No one answered. It’s easier to demonstrate than describe, but I’ll try.

A child would be told to reach his right hand over the top of his head and try to touch his left ear. If he could, he was ready. And for the first years, it was almost always ‘he’!

Kindle edition framed

Nigeria Revisited Now Available for Kindle

I’ve been struggling with creating the Kindle edition of Nigeria Revisited for several days. Today I uploaded it – at last. I did the conversion myself.

I first had to insert all the images that follow chapter 13. Then I had to create the linked table of contents, so a reader can click on the chapter title in the table of contents and go straight to that chapter. I could not get ‘The Suggested Questions for Book Clubs’ and ‘About the Author’ – the final pages in the print edition – into the table of contents.

I finally realized after hours of frustration that I should move them before the ‘Footnotes’, and that worked.

Then I had to ask Miggs Burroughs, my cover designer and the photographer of the hands – Clem’s and mine – for one more iteration of the cover in the format Kindle required. And last I had to decide the price!

Are you in a book club? What are you reading?


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. My wife Bette and I are members of a book club at the Fauquier Springs Country Club in Warrenton, Va. A returned Peace Corps volunteer joining a country club? And he doesn’t even play golf? Well, yes. As country clubs go, it’s a real bargain and it enriches our social life here in rural Virginia, much as the Yola Club enriched my social life in Nigeria back in the day.
    Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know that our book club this month discussed “God Revised: How Religion Must Evolve in a Scientific Age” by Galen Guengerich (pronounced “Gingrich”), senior minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City. I hesitated to propose the book, worried that conservative Christians might take offense, but even a Southern Baptist member found it valuable. Most of the criticism came from avowed atheists who want nothing to do with God.
    Next month we’ll be discussing “A Short History of Evolution” by Carl Coon, a local author who had a distinguished career as a U.S. ambassador before retirement. He’ll pay a visit to our book club when we discuss his book, which ends on reflections about world peace.

    • Fascinating, Steve. Thanks for telling us about your book club in a country club! That’s a first for me, but then my only ‘country club’ experience is Ikoyi Club in Lagos. In our town of Westport, we have a ‘club’ but it’s free and owned by the town. You are certainly into serious books. I’d like to read Guengerich’s book. I’ve heard him speak and was impressed. I hope some book clubs will read my memoir. I’d love to speak to a group that’s read it.