Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Second Chibok Girl?

Second Chibok Girl?

Just two days after the news of a Chibok girl found wandering in the forest, when she was being taken to meet President Buhari, there was news of another.

Pres Buhari

President Buhari met Chibok girl

That news is being challenged. There seems no doubt that another Chibok girl was found and rescued, along with 96 others. But she wasn’t on the list of the missing girls from the school.

“Hosea Tsambido, who chairs the Chibok Community in Abuja [the capital city], said Serah did attend the Chibok school but was abducted in a separate incident, not the night-time mass kidnapping that sent waves of revulsion around the world.”

He said she was instead captured from her town.

Army Says She’s Chibok Girl

SwissInfo online carried the story.

The army spokesman disagred. He said, “It is an incontrovertible fact that that girl was among those girls that were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, on 14 April 2014.”

BBC online carried the story as well.

Tomi Oladipo, BBC Africa Security Correspondent, says, “The military has been trying to win over the public following heavy criticism it has received for its inability to bring back the schoolgirls. Such has been its focus that it has not capitalised on the work of its troops in rescuing thousands of Boko Haram captives.”

He praises the army for what they’ve done. He says, “In fact, army records show it freed 11,595 people between February and April this year. That has barely been publicised – although the abductions of those people also did not make headlines, unlike the schoolgirls whose disappearance raised concern around the world.”

He agrees that the second girl was not captured from the school at Chibok.

So sometimes the army shows restraint, but when it comes to a Chibok girl, they are perhaps too eager to claim success. They know the power of media!

What Makes a Global Citizen?

The National Peace Corps Association announced the winner of its Harris Wofford prize.

Ibrahim Sankare

2016 Harris Wofford prize winner Ibrahima Sankare

We honor a “global citizen” every year. This year’s winner is from Mali. He’s the director and founder of a non-governmental organization.

He started in his village, creating “Hore Ilam” (The Flood Headwaters) “in order to find an occupation for the younger generation . . . away from the fraternal rifts,” that had been a yearly occurrence.

“One of his first interactions with Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) was around this time. While PCVs introduced market gardening and reforestation, Sankare taught them local languages.

“Brigid Andrew (1993-95) believes that it is “through [Sankare’s] connection with Peace Corps volunteers, he received some logistical, but largely moral support for the difficult and often poorly rewarded work of rural development.”

She says, “[I] saw in Sankare his incredible charisma and tireless energy.”

With her encouragement he established Delta Survie. “Sankare said ‘if Brigid had not encouraged [him], [he] would still be just in the village.’”

Today Delta Survie is, “committed to fighting for the integration of marginalized populations, promoting health and education, developing schools in pastoral villages, and opening centers for women suffering from obstetrical fistula.”

Advocacy in Action

This has been my week for advocacy.

First I received a request from Susan of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women. She asked all board members to write to our senators, representatives, and leaders of the funding committees in both houses.

We are asking for increased support from the U.S. for UN Women.

Jim Himes, Congress

My Representative in the House

We in the U.S. speak a lot about the need for gender equality and support for women, but when it comes to $$, we’re not showing leadership. We are currently 14th in the amount of support we offer. A little shameful, don’t you think?

If you want sample letters, let me know.

Then I received another request, this from the National Peace Corps Association.

Here’s the note I was asked to send to my reps: “I am writing to ask for your support of increased funding for the Peace Corps. Last year, 25,000 Americans applied to the Peace Corps to serve their country and host country communities, but funding only allowed for a little less than 4,000 opportunities.”

And here’s the call to action. I’m including it for you. Will you help?

“Join me today in asking Congress to provide the Peace Corps with more funding so that more Americans have the opportunity to serve for peace. Use this link and act now.

Boko Haram in Nigeria to Stay?

Max Siollun, Nigerian historian, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about Boko Haram’s persistence.

I read about it first on his blog where he provides a couple of short excerpts. Then I went to The New York Times, to read the whole piece.

His concluding comment is sober: “Boko Haram may eventually become similar to Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army: a wandering, religiously inspired cult that periodically lashes out. That would be a problem, but it would not be an existential threat to the country.”

Two Awards for My Work

I’m honored to be receiving two awards in the Connecticut Press Club 2016 Communications Contest on May 25.

Blog post picture

My father Peter Zastrow with July 11 birthday

I’m getting first prize for my speech, Sharing and Caring in Community, that I gave as a sermon at The Unitarian Church in Westport in August 2015.

And I have honorable mention for a blog post, My Father’s Birthday, from July 11.

New York Times bestselling author and Westport resident Jane Green will be the emcee of the awards ceremony. Green is “published in more than 25 languages and has over 10 million books in print worldwide.”

Emcee for Awards Ceremony

Jane Green, Westport author

I can barely imagine such success!

All are welcome. If you’re nearby and would like to come, please do! There’s a $40 entrance fee.

The press release, written by my friend, fellow writer, and publicist Aline, also a winner, says, “Connecticut Press Club will salute winners with a cocktail party and awards ceremony at The Boathouse at Saugatuck, 521 Riverside Avenue, Westport, at 6:00 pm.”

More than 50 awards will be conferred to about 30 entrants, so get your clapping hands ready!

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. Cheers on your awards and honors; so well deserved.

    I reread your Sharing and Caring in the Community speech and got more out of it this time. and I will get even more when I read it for the third time. It’s nice to know about other cultures and how they preserve the feeling of Family.

    Hugs and blessings,

  2. Congratulations Catherine on your award for the speech! I’ll see you at the CT Press Club event.

  3. Congratulations on your awards, Catherine!

    Best wishes,