Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

One Year Anniversary

Chibok protest

Protest in Abuja Nigeria over the missing girls, Photograph: Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty

Chibok Kidnapping A Year Ago

Today marks a year since the girls from the Chibok School were kidnapped. The International Business Times has a solid article describing how Boko Haram is still carrying out vicious attacks and how little has been done to combat the insurgents.

The vote for the president I think confirms the opinion that the Nigerian government has not fulfilled its responsibility to its most vulnerable citizens. According to Vinnie Ferraro’s blog, “UNICEF, the UN Children’s Emergency Fund, estimates that about 800,000 children have been displaced in Nigeria as a result of the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram.  Many of these children have been kidnapped and sold as slaves by the group, and UNICEF believes that about 15,000 people have died since 2009 in the violence.  The previous government of Goodluck Jonathan was completely incompetent in dealing with the threat.  We can hope that the new President, Buhari, will be significantly more effective in restoring order.” Note that “completely incompetent” were Vinnie’s words, not mine, though I wouldn’t argue with his assessment.

In addition to the UNICEF report on what Boko Haram has wrought, you can also read more about UNICEF’s impressive work in Nigeria where they have set up educational programs in refugee camps.


Dr. Margee Ensign, President, AUN

The president of the American University of Nigeria, in the area where Boko Haram is active, has been in Washington to seek support. She spoke with Voice of America. You can watch the interview.

Igbo Conference This Week

I wonder if the participants at the Conference on Igbo Women will include mention of the Chibok girls. I hope so.

Are you familiar with CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women? The basic concept is captured in this phrase from one of the early paragraphs: “…the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields.” I talked about it in my last post.

I’m leaving in a couple of hours to fly to London for the 4th Annual Igbo Conference: Igbo Womanhood, Personhood & Womanbeing. I am part of a panel on the first morning of the two-day event. I will refer to CEDAW at the end of my talk on Igbo Women’s Inheritance.  I’m looking forward to meeting the other participants on the panel and at the conference. Last year’s conference looks lively!

My paper is ready. I talk about the ceremony that makes a daughter into a ‘female son.’ According to my cousin-in-law, Chinedu, the ceremony is called a marriage. Here’s part of what he told me:

“Mgbokwuocha was the youngest of her father’s daughters. Her older sisters had already married. The only son was not capable of managing the land. The mother had been brought into the family purposely to have children and ensure the survival of the lineage. She was desperate to fulfill her mission. So she conducted the ‘inside marriage’, or nnuikwa to make Mgbokwuocha the ‘female son.’ At the time, some people in Nanka were already Christians, but her family was pagan so there was no religious obstruction to this ceremony.

“To perform the nnuikwa ceremony “that made Mgbokuocha to be a man,” he said, the requirements were two gallons of Nkwu-enu, two gallons of ngwo, one live cock, kola nuts, and assorted food for the guests. The majority of the umunna were present.

“The chief priest took the rooster and kola and introduced the bride to Ndichie (ancestors). She automatically became a man and had all the rights of a man. With that, the journey of obiechina, may my kindred never end, began.”

Umuada Issue Call

I talk about umuada in my memoir – in a village, the umuada are the daughters of the family, as opposed to the women married into the family. The Umuada Ndi-Igbo is an umbrella organisation of Igbo women in the Diaspora.

They recently called on the president-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, “to give priority attention to the problems of insurgency and corruption that ridicule the country among comity of nations.” Others are making the same call.

Elections Completed

The elections for the governors of most of the states, and for the House of Assembly, took place on Saturday April 11. As in the presidential election two weeks ago voting was extended into Sunday. Now almost all the results are in and it’s clear that the APC, Buhari’s party, won by a landslide.

“The results of Saturday’s elections, which were largely peaceful but marred by violence and widespread fraud in parts of the oil producing Niger delta, complete the routing of the PDP, which has dominated Nigerian politics since the military handed power back to civilians in 1999,” according to the Financial Times. I am cheered and hopeful for the future of my beloved adopted country, currently the home of our two sons.


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: London | Catherine Onyemelukwe

  2. Thanks for the blog, the International Business Times link and the Margee Ensign interview!