Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Tribe or Ethnic Group? More!

Tribe or Ethnic Group?

The most comments ever on a blog topic came as a result of “Tribe or Ethnic Group.” If you haven’t commented yet but want to, you still can! Either make your comment at the bottom of the blog post, or reply to the email and I’ll post it for you!

Mike said Jews use the term tribes – the tribes of Israel. It is not demeaning.

Beth said wouldn’t it be strange to talk about native American or Indian “Ethnic Groups”? And she said, the context in which I use “Tribes” makes it the right word.

But Katy, Reggie, and Liz all thought it is time to drop the term. Pat, who first raised the question, agrees with them.

And I’m still unsure whether to say tribe or ethnic group! My next talk is not for a few weeks so I have time to wrestle with the question. All advice is welcome!

Stay with Me – The Novel

Stay with Me, the engrossing novel I'm listening to.

Stay with Me, the engrossing novel I’m listening to.

I’m listening to the novel Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo. I knew of it first from the Brittle Paper blog I follow. Then I heard a speaker on PBS comment on it.

It is not a happy novel. The topics of marriage, love, and family are treated seriously and deeply.

The NYTimes review said, . . .“ ‘Stay With Me’ feels entirely fresh, thanks to its author’s ability to map tangled familial relationships with nuance and precision, and her intimate understanding of her characters’ yearnings, fears and self-delusions.”

Brittle Paper listed several author interviews and awards. The writer said, “Ayobami is officially famous thanks to Stay With Me, one of the most talked-about debut novels of 2017.”

Ayobemi Adebayo, author of Stay with Me

Ayobemi Adebayo, author of Stay with Me

The article asked how the author is handling her new-found fame. Her answer to that question from an interviewer was, “The way I’ve handled it is to focus on what I’m working on right now. And that’s it.”

Despite its darkness, I love the book. I usually listen in the gym. I get so involved I almost enjoy the exercise!

I’m near the end. I do want the plot and characters settled, but I don’t want the book to be over.

The characters are well-developed, the writing is brilliant, and the reader’s Yoruba and Nigerian accents are wonderful and seem completely authentic to me! So I want to keep listening.

Schools Closed in Boko Haram Territory

Children are often the ones who suffer most in conflict. In northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram has caused so much disruption, death, and destruction, most children are not in school.

I think the statistic that bothered me the most was, “More than 2,295 teachers have been killed and 19,000 displaced.” Teachers!

Schools are gone too. The article quotes UNICEF: “nearly 1,400 schools have been destroyed in eight years of fighting.”

President Buhari says Boko Haram has been largely defeated and driven out of the cities. But they still produce suicide bombings and keep areas unsafe.

The article from Daily Mail says, “Boko Haram’s name roughly translates from the Hausa language spoken widely across northern Nigerian to ‘Western education is sin’.”

Thus schools teaching a secular curriculum are targeted deliberately, says UNICEF’s deputy executive director Justin Forsyth.

Schools are perhaps not even the worst casualties. The article continues, “UNICEF said the intervention of aid agencies was making a difference but some 450,000 children under five were still expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year.”

Family and Community

I’m writing from Chicago. We’re here for my nephew Charlie’s wedding to Courtney.

The rehearsal dinner hosted by my brother and his wife Mary was last night. We arrived late, but just as the meal had been served!

Why were we late? My husband forgot to bring his ID to the airport! So we couldn’t board our noon flight from Westchester County Airport. Instead, we re-booked for a later flight, drove home again and returned for a 5:29 pm departure!

It’s true that I usually remind him and I forgot too! So I couldn’t stay angry for too long.

Charlie is their third son. Dan, the oldest, was married in California five years ago to the day! We were there. Tim, their middle son, is not yet married.

Charlie came with mom Mary for our son’s wedding in St. John nearly a decade ago.

Although Peter is older than I am, he married later. So his children are all younger than ours.

More than one person commented last night how wonderful it is to get family together for an event like a wedding. It’s how we keep the community together, they said!

Not only Nigerians value community, I was reminded! Pictures 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. Saw the front page article on you in Westport News – my copy always comes late since it has to travel so far! Great picture of you and wonderful publicity. And I like the word “tribe” – “ethnic group” sounds so sanitized! Judy