Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Were You Surprised on Tuesday?

Surprised and Disappointed

I was completely surprised on Tuesday night! Hard to believe how wrong the polls were.

Jim Himes at Democratic Hdqtrs in Westport Tues afternoon

Jim Himes and me at Democratic Hdqtrs in Westport Tuesday afternoon

What about you?

I was also disappointed. On Tuesday afternoon I had volunteered at the Westport Democratic Headquarters.

My assignment was to call registered Democrats to ask if they’d voted and remind them if they hadn’t.

I had to check a box for each call. ‘Already voted’, ‘Plans to vote,’ are a couple of choices. Others were ‘Not home,’ ‘Refused/hung up,’ ‘Wrong number.’

I made more than 100 calls. I reached 8 or 9 people. One man had difficulty hearing me. I finally shouted, “Are you voting today?”

“I ain’t votin’ for no one. They’re all stupid. F. . . ’em all!” he said. I clicked the box for ‘refused,’ took a deep breath and moved on. I wonder if he was surprised on Tuesday.

Voted for Roosevelt

Later I reached a woman whose profile said she was 93. She said, “Of course I voted. I voted for Hillary.”

I thanked her. Then she said, “I’m 94. I’ve voted every time since I first voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

I didn’t ask which year. Roosevelt was elected four times. But I figure if she’s now 94, she was born in 1922. She would have been 21 by 1943, so she must have voted when he ran for a 4th term in 1944!

Jim Himes

Himes being interviewed. He was re-elected so wasn't surprised on Tuesday.

Himes being interviewed. He was re-elected so wasn’t surprised on Tuesday.

Jim Himes, the Congressman from Connecticut’s 4th District, came by.

The atmosphere was upbeat. I was optimistic, like everyone else there. A couple of people reminded me to stop by later for the party.

Jim Himes was re-elected. But I doubt if there was a party.

Africa in Words

I follow the blog Africainwords. (Take it apart and you’ll see the name – it took me a few times!)

Often there is a book review; sometimes there are calls for papers. That’s where I found the conference on Igbo women in 2015 in London. I submitted an abstract on Igbo widowhood and inheritance.

I was thrilled to have my paper accepted. I read it as part of a panel at the conference.

A few days ago I saw another call for papers for the Igbo conference, this time not just on women. “Legacies of Biafra: Reflections on the Nigeria-Biafra war 50 years on” is the theme. The organisers (not a spelling error; it’s British) list twelve suggested topics.

There is none that says, Pick Me! But I could probably make something work. I did live in Biafra from the time of the declaration of independence May 1967 to Sept. 1968. The war ended in January 1970. So I was there for half of it!

Deadline is end of December.

These days I try to go to conferences only if I’m presenting, so I need to think hard. If you’ve read my memoir, look at the suggestions in the list and help me decide!

Travel anthology on Nigerians

New travel anthology Route 234

Today Africainwords had an enticing review of the new book, Route 234 An Anthology of Nigerian Travel Writing. Jade Lee who wrote the review says, “The anthology is varied enough to cater to a broad audience but, for me, the stand out pieces were those that incorporated broad social observations with meaningful personal interactions.”

One author talks about living in Amsterdam.

She finds the Dutch attention to time management alienating. How can one live, the writer asks, “where you have to schedule weeks ahead to have a dinner date with a friend?” So contrary to Nigerian life!

Another author writes about meeting a European woman who organizes cultural ventures in East Africa. Seeing the (I assume) Masai women dress up to dance for tourists is jolting, she says. She asks whether a white woman should be in charge of this event.

Lee concludes her review, “For me, the strength of Route 234 lies in its ability to re-centre the travel narrative in different places with different points of view whilst maintaining a nuanced and, ultimately, humane attitude to other peoples and cultures.”

I would have said that I don’t like travel writing or short stories, but this book might change my mind. And I love the name, Route 234. Do you know the significance of the title ‘234?’

The reviewer Jade Lee who discovered book by female colonial officer

The reviewer Jade Lee who discovered book by female colonial officer

Female Colonial Officer

But the most fascinating item was about the reviewer’s PhD thesis.

As part of her studies at SOAS, “Jade undertook archival research which led to the discovery of an unpublished book by a female Colonial Officer serving in what was then the British Cameroons. This formed the genesis of her PhD which is entitled ‘Women of the British Colonial Service: Contested Identities and Liminal Lives, 1936 – 1961.’

I’ll have to look up ‘liminal.’ Does it mean limited?

President Buhari and Trump

Many world leaders have congratulated Trump on his victory.

President Buhari was among them.

“President Buhari in a statement by a media aide, Femi Adesina, congratulated Mr. Trump, saying he ‘looks forward to working together with President-elect Trump, . . . including cooperation on many shared foreign policy priorities, such as the fight against terrorism, peace and security, economic growth, democracy and good governance.’”

I like the way Buhari’s name comes before Obama’s in this headline.

President Buhari, Barack Obama Congratulate Trump on His Victory

Belated Halloween Picture 

Grandchildren Teya and Bruche on Halloween

Grandchildren Teya and Bruche on Halloween in California

Our grandchildren Teya and Bruche had an American Halloween this year. Sam’s wife Onome is in California studying for her Master’s degree in Human Resources.

Teya, age 7, was a movie star – perfect for her! She is an amazing dancer with a real sense of drama!

Bruche was Spiderman. Perfect for an active 5-year old boy. I wonder if they’ve finished their candy yet; maybe we’ll find out if we talk to them this weekend.

Reminds me that I spent the year 1975-76 in California for my MEd. I had the 3 kids, ages 9, 7, and 3 with me. What did we do for Halloween?

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. Like many others, I was far beyond “disappointed.” I am devastated. This dreadful creature who will soon be our President is unbelievable. We are in for a dangerous time. By gthe way, it is important to remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but because of our stupid and totally undemocratic Electoral College, she, like a number of others (Gore v. Bush in 2000) has lost. As Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out last night on MSNBC, we are the only democratic country that refers to the “popular vote.” Everywhere else,it is simply “the vote.”

  2. I was far beyond surprised and disappointed. I am going through all the physical and mental symptoms that I recognize as serious grief, like for the death of a loved one. So are many others I hear from on social media.

    • My friend Bunny in Maine sent this by email:
      Oh, yes…surprised and disappointed, to say the least!
      Here is an excerpt from Natalie’s comment on FB (she’s a freshman at Spelman in Atlanta):
      “…There is an underlying sense of fear and depression throughout the Atlanta University Center this week. People are in mourning for a country that they thought they could call home but that is no longer a safe place for black and brown people, for gay people, for Muslims, for women, and so many more group…”
      So much to work through for all of us in order to try to move ahead in a positive direction. I know you’ll do more than your share! Bunny