Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

#Pray for Nigeria

#Pray for Nigeria

Do you know the publication Atlanta Blackstar? They say, “We publish narratives intentionally and specifically to enlighten and transform the world.” I learned about the #Pray for Nigeria campaign on their page.

Logo for Atlanta Blackstar

Atlanta Blackstar logo

The writer David Love points out in Selective Narrative that the world seemed to unite in horror after the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. Obama and other Western leaders said this week that they hold the people of Brussels in their prayers.

But who, the writer says, will pray for Nigeria? Around the time of the Paris attacks a year ago,  the media “completely ignored the killing of 2,000 in Baga, Nigeria by Boko Haram.” He continues, “Once again, before Brussels, there was another in a string of brutal attacks by this ISIS ally, which actually overtook ISIS last year as the deadliest terror group in the world.”

He describes an attack by Boko Haram, “that burned 86 people, including children, to death. And there was no media coverage of the carnage — no concern about terrorism in this case, because the victims lacked the requisite skin tone to draw attention and sympathy.”

He doesn’t say the people of Europe are less important, but that the people of Nigeria and the rest of Africa are also important. He finds the lack of media coverage deplorable.

#PrayforNigeria – the Twitter hashtag – has gone viral, he says, and he hopes to encourage the media to pay attention to terror attacks, wherever they occur!

Copying her mother, this child learns.

How girls learn everywhere! They copy their mothers.

Amazing Dancing and Drumming in Fairfield

On Thursday I went to Roger Ludlowe Middle School in Fairfield, the town just north of Westport. The school had invited former Peace Corps volunteers to speak. We were three. We had all been volunteers in Africa, Rob in Cameroon, Allegra in Gabon, and me in Nigeria.

The organizer had said the school was “having a full day of activities to raise funds and awareness around clean water, health care and education.” They raise funds for a variety of projects. One is a “Let Girls Learn” Peace Corps Project in Senegal.

I created a new PowerPoint with a few scenes from my time in Nigeria. I added in this and other wonderful pictures I found on Pinterest of women and girls in Nigeria.

The students and a couple of adults in my sessions asked good questions.

Senegalese music at Fairfield CT middle school

Tony Vacca and Massamba Diop performing at Roger Ludlowe Middle School

After lunch we were entertained by drummers and dancing, two Senegalese men and a “dude from New Jersey,” as Tony Vacca described himself. He’s an expert in West African instruments and music, with a special interest in the balafon, an elaborate xylophone-like instrument.

He says he loves the power of musical story-telling.

A West African balafon

A balafon from West Africa

The musicians had also been to classrooms. They had clearly told the students about “dashing” the performers, because several students walked up and gave them money during their performance.

They got a few students up on stage to perform with them. I wanted to walk up and “dash” one of the students, but it didn’t feel appropriate. I would have put the money on the dancer’s forehead as we do in Nigeria, instead of handing it to the person.

Westport YMCA

On Friday I spoke to a small group at the Westport Weston YMCA. Again people asked great questions. Several people signed up to receive my blog – welcome new subscribers!

Old Boys in Connecticut

But the most fun of the week was entertaining alumni of Dennis Memorial Grammar School, my husband’s secondary school in Nigeria.

Fourteen men from the Tri-State area – New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut were here, and myself and three other wives.

The men have an active North American organization with an annual convention. They are extremely loyal – way beyond most Americans’ devotion for their high schools.

More common than the term alumni in Nigeria, and I would guess in Britain, is the term “Old Boys.” It made me smile the first time I heard it, but now I’m used to it.

The organizers had hired a caterer to prepare the food which they brought. So for us it was an easy way to have a party.

The first course was a delicious pepper soup. If you don’t have a strong stomach, you may want to skip the video!

We were treated to pounded yam, or at least a tasty facsimile, and ofe onugbu, bitterleaf soup, to go with the yam. We had moi-moi which is made of steamed ground beans, jollof rice, salmon steaks, fried chicken, and salad.

The other women and I sat separate from the men who were deep in conversation about the school, its condition today – very good, apparently – and their next annual convention.

One of the organizers had brought extra DMGS blazers. He carries them in case someone wants to buy one.

Clem has one, but it’s in Nigeria. So he borrowed one for the portrait.

Clem in his borrowed DMGS blazer

Getting ready for the portrait


Even though Clem hardly knows the other men, the sense of warmth and friendship among them as fellow DMGS Old Boys was clear.

Clem in center in borrowed blazer

Portrait on our patio, Clem in middle front

It was easy to talk to the other wives. One is a neonatologist in New York, though not practicing right now. Another has taught in business school in New Jersey and has a daughter who went to Mount Holyoke College, like my daughter and me. The third is a social worker.

We had as lively a discussion as the men, though on different topics. In fact, the men were one of our topics!

UN Women

UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women has concluded. I’ll tell you about the results next time.

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. Thank you once again for the insightful information on you blog. I have several Nigerian friends who may/may not know of you. I am sharing this blog with them.