Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

US to Help Confront Boko Haram

Special Ops to Help Confront Boko Haram?

Two NY Times articles claimed my attention on Friday morning. The first said that American special operations team members are going to help Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram. I was very happy to read that.

Special Ops to Help Confront Boko Haram

Photo of Special Operations forces from The Nation, unknown location

I knew there had been tense relations between the U.S. and Nigeria.

Several factors were at work. One was fostered by reports that Nigeria’s military did not always respect civilian’s rights. The writer says, “Groups like Human Rights Watch say the Nigerian military has at times burned hundreds of homes and committed other abuses as it battled Boko Haram and its presumed supporters.”

Another factor was an apparent concern by the U.S. “about sharing intelligence with the Nigerian military, fearing their ranks had been infiltrated by Boko Haram, an accusation that further infuriated Nigerian leaders.”

Just over a year ago Nigeria canceled American training of an army battalion.

Now relations are back on track.

U.S. support would be a welcome boost for Nigeria’s military which is having some success but still confronts major challenges.

Psychological Safety and IGB

The second article I liked was about Julia Rozovsky’s work at Google, on what makes teams effective. I’ll tell you about it next time.

Rescued From Boko Haram, But Not Welcomed Home

What happens to women and girls who were abducted by Boko Haram, and are rescued and returned to their communities?

Sarah Grossman at Huffington Post online wrote about the difficulties these women and girls face, and the work several organizations are doing to help them.

US to Help Confront Boko Haram

Didn’t have pic of women, but here’s a boy using supplies from Save the Children

“There are two main reasons families don’t welcome returning women with open arms: First, they are viewed with mistrust, as community members suspect they may have been radicalized by the militants. And second, the returning women are ostracized due to the stigma associated with sexual assault in their communities.”

Some are pregnant, and some have small children. They are facing triple suffering – once when captured, again with the sexual assault, and now back at home.

The Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria, facilitates workshops with victims in the Internally Displaced Persons camps, providing a space for them share their stories and connecting them to experts who can provide longer-term services.

“We go into the camp to provide psycho-social support,” a FOMWAN staff member told The Huffington Post. “The women are traumatized, but now they feel free to speak to their experiences.”

After sharing their stories, the women are referred to experts from organizations like the International Organization for Migration, the International Federation of Women Lawyers Nigeria or Save the Children, all of which can continue to provide support services beyond the workshop.

The Huffpost story was a response to a report just issued by UNICEF and International Alert, both active in supporting the victims.

NPR also had a story based on the report. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro conducted an interview with Rachel Harvey of UNICEF.

Sisters Uptown Bookstore

Founder and owner Janifer Wilson with display of memoir

Founder and owner Janifer Wilson with display of memoir

I had a great time at Sisters Uptown Bookstore on Saturday afternoon. Good fun, wonderful people, and interesting conversation about my memoir Nigeria Revisited My Life and Loves Abroad.

I asked my friend Luvon who had introduced me to Janifer Wilson, owner of Sisters Uptown, to have lunch beforehand. But she informed me that there would be plenty of delicious food.

She was right, and I realized I had revealed my white bias. I should know that in a gathering of black American women, there is likely to be food, unlike a gathering of white women, where there are drinks and maybe snacks.

I was not disappointed! Plantain, fish cakes of two different types, chicken, green salad, pasta salad, and lasagna, not to mention wine! I ate well, enjoyed a glass of wine, and spoke with the book club about my memoir.

US to Help Confront Boko Haram

Luvon serving food

As usual, two or three women had already asked how to say my last name. I wouldn’t tell them. I promised to tell everyone at once.

So that’s what I did first. They were ready and eager to try, which is always more fun than when people are afraid to say it.

During the Book Club meeting before the memoir conversation I sat at the back with a lovely woman, Queen Diva of Diva’s Diamonds.

She hadn’t heard of my book or the book club meeting. She had come to check out

Another Book Club member helping with food

Another Book Club member helping with food

Sisters Uptown Bookstore as a venue to hold an interview or a series of interviews for a TV show she works on. Her producer came later; they love the site and have invited me to be interviewed in March or April.

She also had valuable suggestions for my use of social media, especially Twitter. Watch for a change in the header on my Twitter page, and join me as I ask you to use the hashtag #NigeriaRevisited.

I’d make the change right now, but we’re leaving for Jamaica in a few hours, and I’m going to my friend Frances Sink’s installation at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Stamford shortly. Feeling squeezed for 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.