Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Travel, Walls, Passports, and Lady Liberty

My Passport Error

Clem's expired passport; he'll go tomorrow for new one.

Clem’s expired passport; he’ll go tomorrow for new one.

I mentioned our effort to get Clem a new Nigerian passport. Turns out he did have an appointment to go to the Consulate for the interview.

When I submitted and then printed the passport application forms in late October, I got two more documents to print. One is the “Passport Acknowledgement Slip,” and the other is the “Passport Payment Slip.”

On one of those was the interview date. It was Nov. 3!

Somehow I had either not seen it or forgotten! Shame on me!

Now Clem has re-scheduled his passport interview for tomorrow! I hope he succeeds.

He also has an appointment on Tuesday for the visa. Maybe he’ll travel with two methods of entry, a visa in his American passport, and his new Nigerian passport!

Insurgency in Northern Nigeria

Today’s blog post from the “Africa in Transition” series, courtesy of the Council on Foreign Affairs, presents a frightening scenario. According to Jacob Zenn, the guest writer, “The latest news from northeastern Nigeria is that the Nigerian army will erect fortresses around the region’s larger towns to prevent Boko Haram raids and allow farmers to tend their fields in safety.”

Reading this makes me so unhappy. I cannot picture how a fortress around a city will even allow farmers to return to their fields in safety, unless their fields are within the new wall.

I can imagine how it would allow people to leave the camps and return to the cities, if the cities are protected. But what kind of life is that when people cannot travel outside?

Zenn says that Nigeria seems to be headed for a counterinsurgency setting similar to what the U.S. faces in Afghanistan. The army and government may control urban areas. But the countryside is too hard to monitor and control.

The local population is afraid to show support for the government. They are not sure the army can protect them. They fear retribution from the insurgents who are living among them.

He concludes, “In such a situation the insurgents can take advantage of their superior knowledge of the socio-cultural and physical terrain in northeastern Nigeria to harass the Nigerian army, at least outside of these new ‘fortresses’.”

And unfortunately inside too, as suicide bombers have become skilled at evading capture.

Other Walls, the Need to Hide 

I am listening to the book Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood. I can’t tell you much; I’m not very far along. But Grace is in a penitentiary. There are moments she seems to say she is kept inside to keep her safe. Perhaps her incarceration is to protect her, not just protect others from her.

The Frank family in the Diary of Anne Frank at Westport Community Theater

The Frank family in The Diary of Anne Frank at Westport Community Theater

There seems to be a bigger point about walls, protection, letting people in or keeping them out, hovering at the edge of my consciousness.

I’ve been looking at the description of The Diary of Anne Frank. The play is on now at Westport Community Theater. I hope we can go tomorrow or Saturday night.

Anne had to be hidden to protect her, and the effort failed in the end. If the U.S. had been more open to accepting Jewish immigrants, would she have been safe? Probably not her, but some people would have.

For our country, I believe immigrants make us stronger, not weaker. I do not like to see people walled out, and I hate to know people have to be walled in, in Nigeria or anywhere.

The Bigger Point, Made Forcefully by a Rapper

Have you seen this amazing piece from Global Citizen? It was in my Twitter feed just now. He has the message that I believe in, said more powerfully than I could ever do!

What is your reaction? He made me want to stand up and cheer!

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. Loved the slam poet. So real, true and emotional!! Wish we could spread it around, wish some “others” could hear and believe as well!

  2. Those fortresses sound like going back to the Middle Ages. It is sad, but I suppose they have to do something to try to protect themselves. I wonder if most raids occur after dark? If so, maybe the reason they think the walls could work for the farmers is the idea that they could go outside the wall in the morning and do their work, returning before dusk?

    • I don’t think the raids occur after dark. It seems to me more a way to try to say the government is doing something to protect people. Whether they will actually do it, and whether it will provide any protection, is not assured, in my mind.