FEATURE ARTICLE

Chika OduahTuesday, October 2, 2007
[email protected]
Atlanta, GA, USA

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KUDOS To ANOG

udos, Daalu, Ese, Merci, Gracias to the Alliance of Nigerian Organizations in Georgia (ANOG)! The September 29th Interactive Session on "Nigerian Families Abroad At Cultural Cross-Roads" sponsored and organized by ANOG was a session like no other conducted by the Nigerian community in Atlanta. The deploring morality of Nigerian families abroad is a fresh topic, a topic which must be addressed before the situation escalates into a crisis and ANOG was bold enough to discuss the matter instead of sweeping it under the rug. Kudos again.


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To organize such an event, one needs compassion and ANOG demonstrated just that: concern and compassion for its community of Nigerians abroad. It also takes courage because organizing an "intellectual" or "public service" event is always tricky- who wants to listen to nerds talk all day, right? However, ANOG stepped out and took responsibility.

At 9am, yes nine o'clock in the morning, individuals sat in the session to receive what the Honorable Former Minister of Information and National Orientation said was, "free counsel from notable experts" - which is precisely what it was. The panelists were educated, enlightened, relatable, and important leaders in the community who took their precious time to give free information. And even more amazing- the event was free, yes $0!

As a budding social commentator and anthropologist, I thoroughly enjoyed the symposium; thoroughly enjoyed being in the midst of my people discussing issues affecting my people; thoroughly enjoyed listening to the concerns of my fellows; thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the 47th Anniversary of Nigerian Independence is such an innovative manner.

I believe that I can correctly say that I was obviously the youngest attendant and I figured that I would be, but I dared not let my age or the time or questionable transportation prevent my attendance. Some events simply must be attended for the betterment of the soul, mind, and body. This was such an event. The panelists and the audience served an abundance of information and I left the venue satisfied, full, and comforted.

"Who are we talking to?" asked the Honorable Frank Nweke, Jr. as he stood before a group of barely 50. He echoed the concerns voiced by other individuals at the forum, remarking on the size of the audience. The information related at the symposium was pertinent and so relevant to the Nigerian community abroad! I mean, we're talking about immigration laws and domestic violence and spousal abuse and health and religion in marriage and finance in the marriage and adultery and more and more and what else could one ask for? I mean, there was no fee to attend, the only ingredient required was interest. Is interest such a rarity among the Nigerian community abroad? I dare not think so and I prefer to uphold my stance of optimism.

"But at the banquet this evening, there will not be enough seats," stated the Honorable Frank Nweke, Jr. to my dismay and amusement.

If the Honorable Consul General in Atlanta, Chudi Okafor and the former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Frank Nweke Jr. can find time to attend, who cannot? But as expressed by one of the attendants, every movement starts with a few. But I say this: Nigerians can do and should do more than party.

Who knew that the seeds of old-fashioned mentalities concerning the relationship between husband and wife would reap harvest, wreck havoc, and reek a stench among the Nigerian community abroad? Well, this is what is happening and hearing the statistics read during the symposium reflected that there is a thread in the fabric of the cultural psyche of the Nigerian people that needs to be removed and its removal must be both deliberate and careful. Its removal must be by ripping. This thread of thought underlies all matters of spousal abuse because it dares to promote the nonsense that the female is the weaker vessel. I have never and will never meet a "weak" female. I meet oppressed females everyday of my life, but weaker? No. So, by applying this absurd notion that females are weaker, thus less important, certain men are abusing their helpmates, cursing their helpmates, and eventually murdering their helpmates. Eight cases of spousal murders were brought to my attention at last Saturday's session. All of the murders were committed by Nigerian men in this US of A between 2004 and 2007 and I am still having difficulty find a word to relate my sheer disgust. Even now……nope, I just can not think of words- if you know any word that may convey my level of absolute repulsion concerning this matter, please email me!

Unfortunately, such cases result when wives become adjusted to injustice and injustice cannot be justified, thus the just solution to this unjust situation is to judge to the action of spousal abuse as a Loathsome, Pitiable Abomination Against the Creator of the Universe. We must adopt a No- Tolerance policy on such a crime. This is a crime committed not just to the spouse (which is often the wife) but to our culture. How can we celebrate the female and murder her at the same time? To all men who abuse their wives: is your wife a 7 year old child that needs to be uhh…..spanked? Or is she the beautiful, creative, nurturing being that bore and birthed, bares and births life to the world?

Because I do not want to stress my brain cells trying to conjure a reason why one would hit a spouse, please allow me to change topic.

Advice on disease prevention and health maintenance were readily available during the session provided by a notable pharmacist and knowledge members of the audience. I am required to state that disease is not always caused by juju or whatever. Some times we are the cause of our dis-ease. As we adapt the American fast food diet, we obtain illnesses common in America. As we maintain our cultural ideas about salad and vegetables being goat's food, we obtain illnesses common to carnivores. The presentation was more about medicine and less about nutrition, but we need to know that food has the ability to play dual roles as medicine and poison.

In conclusion, the event was brilliant and I advise other Nigerian communities abroad to organize similar sessions around the world. ANOG deserves credit for organizing the symposium because in doing such, ANOG presented a worthy suggestion: let's talk about socially relevant issues to maintain a viable society. What a great way to celebrate the 47th year of Nigeria's Independence!

Bio

Born in 1986, Nigerian native, Chika Oduah is a young individual with a childish curiosity and propensity to share knowledge. Her insatiable appetite for information has led her to become an aspiring international journalist and human rights activist. She is currently a student at Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta, Georgia where she is majoring in anthropology and journalism and minoring in film.

Led by an ever- inquisitive spirit, Chika Oduah seeks to spread the gospel of multicultural unity; preserve fine arts and human rights; relate pressings issues and events; write eye-opening articles and create ground-breaking documentaries.

Chika Oduah is an active member of the metro-Atlanta community and on the campus of Georgia State University. While serving as the Vice-President of the GSU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Chika is also an active member of the GSU African Student Union. She maintains a reputable academic reputation and is a member of the GSU Honors Student Program and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Chika is active in various international human rights organizations and associations such as iAbolish American Anti Slavery Group, Bread For the World, and Taking It Global. Her community activities involve assisting and interacting with international refugees in organizations and projects such as the Georgia Mutual Assistance Association Consortium, Clarkston Community Center, the Center for Pan-Asian Community Services and Women Watch Afrika, Inc., where she received the Volunteer of the Year Award, among several other community and academic awards. Chika is also a member of the Nigerian Youth Alliance, Hands On Atlanta, and a dancer in the Reflections of Grace Dance Ministry.

Among other notable achievements, Chika participated in the 2004 Summer Olympics as an Escort Torch Bearer and was featured in various issues of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Chika was featured in a published book by Mikki Halpin entitled It's Your World: If You Don't Like It, Change It (2004) and was featured on the local television program, People TV, with renowned author, Kevin Powell.

Chika Oduah engages in various journalistic activities and is currently a newscaster on WRAS 88.5FM, the radio station of Georgia State University, which is the largest student-run radio station in the United States of America, operating at 100,000 watts. Chika writes for the GSU newspaper, The Signal and is a news reporter for Georgia State News television program. She also featured on National Public Radio's Youth Radio to present a commentary. Chika has also been published in various magazines, books, and websites and recently engaged in a study abroad program to Guatemala to meet international journalists and activists.

Chika seeks to communicate with the citizens of the world by using journalism to share information and applying the principles of anthropology in efforts to share cultural appreciation and unify humankind.

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