Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Wole Soyinka’s Words of Hope, a Loss and a Death

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate

Soyinka Comments on Boko Haram

Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate author, is quoted in this article from Daily Post, an online Nigerian newspaper. Soyinka says it’s more unlikely now that Nigeria will break apart – ironically, Boko Haram is bringing Nigeria’s people together because of their sense of shared dismay. He says, “the havoc caused by the Boko Haram insurgents can only be controlled when Muslims and Christians come together.” 

I don’t agree when he says that, “the constant attacks on Nigerians by the terror group [are] worse than the 1967-1970 civil war.” 

But I applaud him and hope he is right when he says, “For the first time, a sense of belonging is predominating.” 

from CBS

David Luiz and Brazil were thoroughly embarrassed by Germany. (Getty Images) The word that looks spray-painted behind them means thank you.

World Cup

The first World Cup semi-final match was today. I was hoping for a victory by the host Brazil. But Brazil was thrashed 7-1 by Germany, and their one goal was scored in the last minutes. I had to wonder if Germany’s goalie simply took pity on them.

The Brazilian crowd in the stadium was nearly silent as the match ended. I felt bad for them; also for Jackie, Wendy, and my other friends with Brazilian connections.

Some Brazilians were already complaining that the World Cup cost too much. I can just imagine the recriminations that will take place now.

A Reporter’s Death

Lloyd Garrison, dead at age 83. Lloyd Garrison’s name was in my mind when I saw this notice in the New York Times. I’d been editing my memoir, trying to get it under 100,000 words, and was reviewing the news of our wedding. Lloyd came to our wedding and submitted two pieces to The New York Times.

Lloyd Garrison in Angola

Lloyd Garrison in Angola in 1968. Credit Thomas Freidmann, NYTimes

Here’s what I say in my book: “On December 22 [1964], The New York Times ran the story, “Peace Corps Worker to Wed Nigerian Engineer,” from United Press International’s Lloyd Garrison. My parents heard from people in Fort Thomas [Kentucky] who thought the wedding should be stopped right away since Kentucky still had a law against interracial marriage. But they didn’t tell me this when we met them at the airport on December 23.”

I go on to describe my parents’ visit, our wedding, and the reception. The second article appeared the day after.

My memoir says, “After our wedding, we were celebrities. The creation of Peace Corps was still recent enough that the wedding of a volunteer to a “host country national,” especially when the marriage was interracial, was newsworthy. The New York Times’ story, “Nigerian Marries Peace Corps Girl,” again by Lloyd Garrison, ran with the sub-heading, “Bride’s Grandfather Headed Land Bank under Wilson.”

Our photo appeared in Life magazine a week later. I have the picture and you’ll see it in my memoir when I get it scanned. There was an article and photo in Jet magazine a week after that. I was stunned – I didn’t realize our wedding was news to anyone but us and our families and friends.

We received dozens of congratulatory telegrams from people who knew Clem or me and wished us well, and even from people who simply read about our wedding and sent good wishes. But my parents returned to Kentucky and a barrage of hate calls. And I didn’t know until years later, when my brother told me, that they finally had to delist their phone number.

Have you ever been the object of racism? Have you taken a stand against racism?

 

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.

6 Comments

  1. After returning home from Nigeria in 1965, I serendipitously found my way to Jim Crow Mississippi to teach Summer Head Start in Vicksburg. I wrote up my experience for publication in my hometown newspaper, the Middletown (Conn.) Press, and have resurrected that old article for republication in the Friends of Nigeria newsletter.

  2. I read the NYT obituary of Lloyd Garrison with interest because of his name and his ancestor, William Lloyd Garrison. Now there’s another reason to regard him with respect!