Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Two Atrocities, Two Approaches

Paris and Baga – Both Newsworthy?

Margaret Sullivan, NYTimes Public Editor

Margaret Sullivan, NYTimes Public Editor

“What makes one atrocity more newsworthy than another?” asks Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of The New York Times, in her piece on January 24. She comments on the extensive coverage of the Paris bombing at the magazine office: “Coverage was wall to wall: In The Times, not a day went by, for 10 consecutive days, without at least one front-page story, usually two.”

Boko Haram carried out a massacre in northern Nigeria the same week. Amnesty International issued reports saying as many as 2000 had died. The Times, she says, “barely took note. The first staff-written report appeared in print a week after the attack; it didn’t make the front page and was of a modest length.” News from the attack only appeared once on the front page and that was a map, with the story inside.

NYTimes Adam Nossiter on assignment in Mali 2012

NYTimes Adam Nossiter on assignment in Mali 2012

Why this disparity? She asked three international editors who all told her that, “Adam Nossiter has done “extraordinary work on Boko Haram for years.” Another editor told her that “Mr. Nossiter was in Nigeria again working on a major Boko Haram piece.”

No one said Africa just isn’t relevant for American readers. Especially with the kidnapped girls still occasionally mentioned, many U.S. readers are aware of Boko Haram and its atrocities. The Times editors said the difficulty of getting accurate information was part of the reason for less reporting. No Times staff could verify the numbers of dead or take photographs of the destruction.

She didn’t mention one reason which other reporters did note: the government of Nigeria itself did not talk about the Baga attacks. Indeed, Pres. Goodluck Jonathan sent a message of condolence to the French without even mentioning Baga.

Did you miss seeing coverage of the Boko Haram attack on Baga? How did you learn about it?

The Missing Girls

#BRingBackOurGirls activists protesting in Abuja, ignored by government.

#BRingBackOurGirls activists protesting in Abuja, ignored by government.

Max Siollun posted a report on a speech given by the Nigerian National Security Advisor Dasuki in London recently. In response to a question from a reporter, Dasuki said he thinks the kidnapped girls have been dispersed, “some of them have been sold out…that is all we know” he said.

He added that there is still surveillance and he has not given up entirely. But he is not hopeful.

Another reporter also talked about the missing girls in the context of foreign reporters coming for Nigeria’s elections.

Bella Naija reports today that Geoffrey York, a reporter from South Africa, is alleging on Twitter that journalists are not being given visas.

He has been writing regularly about #Bring Back Our Girls activism in Nigeria. The photo came from his report in The Guardian. He says there are daily rallies which the government ignores.

Catching Up on Publicity and My Thank Yous

Since I came back from Nigeria I’ve had on my ‘to do’ list sending copies of my memoir to several organizations for inclusion in their lists and to those individuals who wrote comments for me. Today I finally did it!

I composed letters and sent copies to the Yale Alumni Magazine, Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly, and UUWorld, the journal of the Unitarian Universalist Association. I have an MBA from Yale’s School of Management, though the degree was called the Master’s in Public and Private Management, MPPM, when I got it in 1988.

My undergraduate degree, a BA with a major in German, was from Mount Holyoke. I’ve been a member of The Unitarian Church in Westport since 1994.

In each letter I included marketing copy the editor could use in describing the book.

Then I sent copies to five of the generous people who gave me paragraphs to use in the front of my book, “Acclaim for Nigeria Revisited.” For them, I wrote a note on the inside title page.

Nigerian author Okey Ndibe

Nigerian author Okey Ndibe

The first was Okey Ndibe, noted Nigerian author, professor, and son-in-law of my friend and fellow Nigerwife Doris. He’s the author of Foreign Gods, Inc. which won awards and praise last year.

“Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc. is one of the most impressive African novels that I have read in years … Clearly, this is one writer to watch. —Charles R. Larson, Counterpunch.” I found this quote on Okey’s website. Charles, or Chuck, was my Peace Corps colleague in Nigeria.

Would he write a review of my memoir? Shall I ask?

John Lemly of Mount Holyoke

John Lemly of Mount Holyoke

Next was another academic, John Lemly, Professor of English and African Studies at Mount Holyoke and husband of my daughter’s choral director at the college.

Then came my economics professor from Yale School of Management Sharon Oster.

Yale Professor Sharon Oster

Yale Professor Sharon Oster

I sent the fourth book to Denny Davidoff, my long-time friend, mentor, and adviser, from The Unitarian Church in Westport.

Denny Davidoff, national UU leader

Denny Davidoff, national UU leader

Denny is a nationally known leader among Unitarian Universalists and it has been a joy to get to know her.

The final book today went to Susan Boyar, a friend from a writing group I belong to, and a professional book group facilitator.

There are two others. I will send their books soon.

Have you read Nigeria Revisited? Which comment in the “Acclaim” section was the most accurate or most enticing?Which did you like the best?






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. Dear Cathy,
    have recently received the book from England – one of my nieces found it for me in a small store for used books – and I am delighted. It is such interesting reading, and many of the stories remind me of my first experiences in Nigeria in the early 70s. I already have several request from friends who want to read it too. Since most of them do not have my qualms about ordering it from Amazon I have directed them to their offer which is a very reasonable EUR 12.35 and even less for the Kindle version. I will certainly recommend the book to my English reading group.
    Best wishes for continued good response to the book and belated congratulations for your golden wessing anniversary!!!

    • Thank you, Brigitte. I’m so pleased that you are finding my experiences similar to yours. And thanks for recommending the memoir to others, and telling them where they can buy it. I am grateful! Possibly I could even come meet with your English reading group when they discuss the book. I’m always eager to have a good excuse to travel. Thank you too for the congratulations on our golden wedding anniversary.