Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Twenty one Chibok Girls Released!

21 Chibok Girls Released 

There will surely be drama now about released Chibok girls

Drama about Chibok Girls in a Nigerian school last year.

Twenty one of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram two and a half years ago were released yesterday!

CNN carried a report, as did many Nigerian newspapers.

The Nigerian government says negotiations have been going on for many months. No captured Boko Haram fighters were exchanged for the girls, they said.

CameroonOnline reported a statement from the Nigerian government.

”The release of the girls in a limited number is the outcome of negotiations between the administration and Boko Haram brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government. The negotiations will continue,”’ the statement said.

MSN also reported the news. You can watch a brief video here.

As the reporter says, it’s not clear why Boko Haram would have released these girls now. She says it may be a result of in-fighting between two Boko Haram factions.

Chimamanda’s 15 Suggestions on Being Feminist

Chimamanda in Vogue

Chimamanda in Vogue last year

This morning I woke up to a post on Brittle Paper with Chimamanda Adichie’s 9000+ brilliant words on being feminist.

As the blogger Ainehi Edoro said, everyone should read this.

Adichie lays out her fifteen suggestions in the form of a letter to a friend. The friend, she implies, asked for her advice on how to raise her day-old daughter feminist.

“I understand what you mean by not always knowing what the feminist response to situations should be. For me, feminism is always contextual. I don’t have a set-in-stone rule; the closest I have to a formula are my two ‘Feminist Tools’ and I want to share them with you as a starting point.”

The first is your premise. . . Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only.’ Not ‘as long as.’ I matter equally. Full stop.”

The second tool is a question: can you reverse X and get the same results?”

She says as long as decisions are not based on gender inequality, they can be feminist choices.

I can imagine an example: you and your husband decide to move for your husband’s job offer. If the role’s were reversed and you – the woman – had the job offer, would you move for that?

Obviously there are lots of other factors to consider. But on principle, if the decision is about those factors, not that you’re moving because he’s the man, it can be a feminist choice.

You’ll find her example when you read her piece!

Brittle Paper Comes to Life

Ainehi Edoro at Yale

Ainehi Edoro speaking, by sign, our selfie, at Yale

Yesterday I went to New Haven to meet Brittle Paper’s creator, Ainehi Edoro.

She was speaking for the Yale Council on African Studies. I’m on their mailing list, so saw her name last month.

She and I have corresponded. We follow each others’ blogs. We’ve interviewed each other.

It was time to meet! She suggested lunch before the talk. We shared information while we got better acquainted over a delicious Indian lunch.

Her talk was fascinating and really well-presented. She knows African literature inside out!

I joined the group that went to dinner after the talk, met a couple of faculty members and some students.

Is Self-sufficiency Realistic?

President Buhari spoke for the opening of the 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja recently. He urged the participants to consider how to make the country self-sufficient in food and other goods.

He called this self-sufficiency his greatest desire.

Can Nigerian agriculture recover so the country can again be an exporter?

Cotton growing in California. Could Nigeria compete?

Cotton growing in California. Could Nigeria compete?

Britain saw value in Nigerian products centuries ago. British traders were attracted by slaves first. But after outlawing the slave trade, they exported cotton, timber, groundnuts (peanuts), and palm oil. They exploited these goods for their own profit.

Can Farmers Turn a Profit?

Can’t Nigerian farmers today turn a profit on these crops? The sun and the rain are still there, the farmland is there. Plenty of laborers are available. But farming has to be respectable or young people won’t do it!

Can it be made respectable without capital investment? Do they need expensive imported machinery? They are so many unemployed men and women who can do the work.

Other Thoughts on Self-Sufficiency

If you live near me, you probably know of Ebong Udoma, WHSU’s award-winning senior political reporter. His brother is Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and Planning.

He spoke at the same event as Buhari.

He said, “Government agencies will work with the private sector to support research with a view to developing high quality indigenous products and technologies.’’

But do they need research? Nigerian farmers have known how to grow yams, cassava, rice, and other crops for centuries.

Yes, there could be improvements. But they don’t need to wait for research! The farmers need to get the seeds, or in the case of yams, seed yams. They need to hire laborers and pay them.

That’s where government help would be important. Farmers will need support until the crops are sold.

And the farmers who undertake the effort need to know they can get a reasonable price for their goods. Local companies will have to be encouraged to buy locally.

Markets are already vibrant places and could be leaders in turning away from imported goods.

Not easy for sure. But could it be done? Can Nigeria have a thriving agricultural sector?

Chicken in the Kitchen, a story of Igbo masquerades.

Chicken in the Kitchen, a story of Igbo masquerades.

An Award for Chicken in the Kitchen

Remember the book Chicken in the Kitchen I’ve mentioned before? Lantana Publishing announced today that the book was “Winner of the Children’s Africana Best Book Award 2016.”


Huge congratulations to the publisher, author Nnedi Okorafor, and illustrator Mehrdokht Amini.


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: The Wife in The Other Room ⋆ Catherine Onyemelukwe

  2. I recently read Chicken in the Kitchen to a second-grade class, and we all enjoyed it very much. Thanks for the recommendation. We laughed especially at the idea of the little girl speaking “chickenese.”

    • Thanks, Susan. I’m so glad to hear that you and the second-grade children enjoyed Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. The story and the illustrations are amazing. I just saw that the book is available on Amazon for less than $6!

  3. That is wonderful news about the girls’ release. I couldn’t stop my mind from drifting to the ones left behind. I couldn’t help thinking about what trauma the released girls have been through and what therapy they will need, how fully they can recover psychologically, even with therapy. But now is not the time to dwell on that. Now is the time celebrate their return. Today I needed some good news, and you gave it to me. Thanks Catherine.

  4. The Washington Post on Thursday, Oct. 13, featured a major front-page story and photo on the long-time hidden famine in Borno State as a result of Boko Haram terrorism.