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An association of Nigeria Peace Corps alumni and other friends of Nigeria who support the interests of the Nigerian people.

    Friends of Nigeria - News   

                                        A Quarterly Publication of the 
                 Friends of Nigeria 


Peter Hansen (27) 66-68


  Book Reviews

  David Strain (07) 63-66


Nigeria News 

Virginia DeLancey (04) 62-64



David Koren (09) 63-66



Earl (Buzz) Welker (05) 62-65

                   Steve Manning (13) 64-66

   Mary-Ann Palmieri (05) 62-64

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  • January 01, 2018 8:58 PM | E Michael (& Marion) Goodkind (Administrator)
    This PBS News Hour report, aired Dec. 27, 2017,  highlights many of the issues that FON members are stepping up to support in Nigeria in 2018. This brief introduction was reported in Kenya, but many of the issues are similar.

    Roughly one million women in the developing world suffer from obstetric fistula, an injury that results from inadequate medical care and causes incontinence. But beyond the physical effects, the condition can subject them to shame and isolation from their families. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Kenya on efforts to offer treatment and reintegrate women back into communities.
    See the audio and video from PBS News:

    PBS Fistula Report

    Read the Full Transcript

    • Hari Sreenivasan:

      Next: one effort to address a humiliating medical injury that afflicts perhaps one million women in the developing world who lack access to safe medical facilities.

      Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Kenya. It’s part of his Agents for Change series.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      In a new hospital in Eldoret, Kenya, these women are awaiting surgery to fix a condition that’s widely misunderstood and reviled, one that’s made them outcasts, often in their own families.

      It’s called obstetric fistula, an injury to the birth canal caused, in most cases, by prolonged labor that leaves a woman incontinent. Perhaps one million women in the developing world suffer from fistulas, a condition virtually wiped out in industrialized nations with better access to prenatal care and medical facilities.

      At least once a week, these patients hear a message of hope from a woman who knows all too well their suffering; 41-year-old Sarah Omega was just 19 when she was raped and became pregnant.

    • Sarah Omega:

      I was so scared. I didn’t want to secure an abortion because of my faith, yes, so I kept the pregnancy.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      Omega eventually spent 38 hours in a difficult labor, much of it at home. In the process, the baby died, and she suffered a large fistula. For 12 years, Omega says she was subjected to isolation and shame.

    • Sarah Omega:

      I attempted suicide twice. Every night, I would go to bed. I would say, God, please don’t allow me to see tomorrow, because my tomorrow, every day, I would wake up in the morning, see the sun, I would cry because I knew it was another day of pain, of humiliation, of suffering in isolation.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      That anguish landed her in a psychiatric ward, and it was there that a visiting doctor came to her bedside.

    • Sarah Omega:

      He assured me that my problem was going to be fixed. And I remember that day he told me: “I’m seeing a lot of hope in you. I want you to get healed.”

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      That doctor was 49-year-old Hillary Mabeya, a gynecologist and surgeon who has devoted his entire practice to women with fistulas.

      This 88-bed hospital was built for his use, as part of a broad campaign by the California-based Fistula Foundation.

    • Hillary Mabeya:

      These are patients who need care, they need support, and they need a lot of counseling. They suffer so much from society because of their condition.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      It’s difficult to pinpoint how many women suffer from fistula in this country, in part because most of them are kept isolated by their communities and even their families.

      But in recent years, since the campaign began to raise awareness of fistula, awareness that it is treatable, some 7,000 women have emerged from hiding each year seeking surgery.

      Fistula awareness groups have taken to the streets to educate others about the condition, and where to get help. We watched as these women, many of them survivors themselves, fanned out through the Western city of Mumias, and encouraged women suffering from incontinence issues to get free screening offered by the campaign.

      Organizer Habiba Mohamed said people still have many misconceptions about fistula.

    • Habiba Mohamed:

      Maybe she has been bewitched. Maybe she was promiscuous and had a relationship outside marriage when she was pregnant.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      Mohamed’s group, WADADIA, recently arranged the transportation and treatment for 35-year-old Rachel Juma Wasamba, who lives in a remote village in Western Kenya.

      Wasamba was lucky. Her husband stayed with her throughout her condition and treatment. Many husbands abandon their wives in such situations.

      Amina Mushele says that’s what happened to her.

    • Amina Mushele:

      (Through interpreter) My husband couldn’t take it anymore, so he left me to marry another woman.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      She had surgery one year ago, and now makes and sells goods in the town marketplace, using skills she got from a training program sponsored by WADADIA. The training, ranging from hairstyling, to seamstress work, and computer skills, helps reintegrate women back into their community.

    • Habiba Mohamed:

      The moment someone has been treated, and she has healed, you can be able to see a significant change in her life, and not only in her life, in her family, in her children. So, it has a ripple effect to an entire family and the entire community.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      Back in Eldoret, Dr. Mabeya is kept very busy at one of the few places where fistula surgery is performed and offered free of charge.

      Working six days a week, he operates on 45 women a month. Since that’s just a fraction of the new cases, he is also training other doctors in the region, and he is working to prevent fistulas in the first place.

    • Hillary Mabeya:

      Fistula is almost 100 percent preventable. In developed countries, it’s not even there.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      He says fistula can be avoided if adequate prenatal and emergency care is made available when complications arise during pregnancy. More than half of all Kenyan women still deliver their babies at home.

      For her part, Sarah Omega says her healing became complete when she able to give birth to a health baby daughter, Jade, who recently turned two.

    • Sarah Omega:

      She means just the whole world to me. I remember at some point, I would pray and say, God, if you give me a baby, that baby will erase the pain I have gone through in this life.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      And Omega continues to help other women erase the pain of fistula.

    • Sarah Omega:

      I decided to change the pain I had gone through into something beautiful, something that will help me reach out to other women, something that will allow other women to live a normal life like me.

    • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

      She travels frequently to talk about her experiences, but, more regularly, her advocacy happens at the bedside of women at the new fistula hospital.

      For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Fred de Sam Lazaro in Eldoret, Kenya.

    • Hari Sreenivasan:

      Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

  • May 05, 2017 9:09 AM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)

    Fixing the Food System: Changing How We Produce and Consume Food  

    By Steve Clapp (06) 62-64    

    Reviewed by Marion Nestle, New York, June 2016

          I wrote the Foreword to this book.  Here’s what I said:

    In this welcome addition to my library of books about food policy and politics, Steve Clapp’s Fixing the Food System reviews the past and current history of calls for a national food policy, the most contentious controversies over food and nutrition issues that have impeded development of such a policy, and the work of advocates to achieve one. As this book makes clear, this history began decades ago.

         I first became aware of the importance of federal food policies in the early 1980s when I was teaching nutrition to medical students at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).  First-year students were eager to learn about nutrition, but for personal more than for professional reasons. They wanted to know what they—and the patients whose health problems they were learning to treat—should eat. But by the time they were residents, I could see their dietary concerns vanish under the daily demands of patient care. Trying to advise about diets was too difficult, time consuming, and financially unrewarding to be worth the trouble. It seemed unreasonable to expect doctors to take the time needed to counsel individual patients about the prevention of diet-related conditions—heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and the like. If nutritionists like me wanted to focus on disease prevention rather than treatment, we would have to advocate to change the food environment to make healthful food choices the easy choices, even better, the preferred choices. This meant we would have to advocate for food and nutrition policies aimed at promoting public health.

         In 1983, I co-authored an article with UCSF colleagues on the need for such policies.  It began: 

    The U.S. government helps to assure an adequate food supply for Americans by sponsoring a wide variety of food, nutrition, and agricultural support programs. These federal activities were developed in the absence of a clearly articulated national policy, a situation that has resulted in the fragmentation of government programs and their wide disbursement among numerous agencies and departments.

         Our article quoted the earliest calls we could find for a national policy to address these problems.  In 1974, long before the term “food system” came into common use, the National Nutrition Consortium of four leading nutrition and food science societies argued for a national nutrition policy that would:

    •assure an adequate, wholesome food supply, at reasonable cost, to meet the needs of all segments of the population.

    •maintain food resources sufficient to meet emergency needs and to fulfill a responsible role as a nation in meeting world food needs.

    •develop a level of sound public knowledge and responsible understanding of nutrition and foods that will promote maximal nutritional health.

    •maintain a system of quality and safety control that justifies public confidence in its food supply.

    •support research and education in foods and nutrition with adequate resources and reasoned priorities to solve important current problems and to permit exploratory basic research.

         Whether offered as nutrition or food policies, these were and remain highly appropriate goals for an abundant, healthy, safe, and effective food system.

         My co-authors and I went on to identify the constraints that then limited government action to achieve such goals.  Despite an emerging consensus on the basic elements of healthful diets—fruits and vegetables, balanced calories, not too much junk food (as Michael Pollan put it more recently, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”)—the greatest impediment to policy development was the controversy over the science of diet and health.  Our article understated this issue:

    The effect on the nation’s health of food processing and other changes in the U.S. diet is controversial. Salt, sugar, fiber, saturated fats, alcohol, caffeine, calories, vitamins, and food additives all elicit vigorous debate.

         Today, more than 30 years later, we are still arguing about that science, and the scientific arguments still impede policy development.  In Fixing the Food System, Steve Clapp brings us up to the minute on federal progress (or the lack thereof) toward achieving a clearly articulated national food policy. He begins and ends his book with the most recent policy proposals from leading food advocates Michael Pollan, of course, but also Mark Bittman, Olivier de Schutter, and Ricardo Salvador. Their recent suggestions for improving our current food system reflect the many changes in agricultural production and food consumption that have taken place since 1974 but retain the basic elements of those earlier proposals. Fixing the Food System explains why a national food policy is so badly needed and matters so much.

         Steve Clapp is in a unique position to comment on food policy issues.  He’s been at the policy game for a long time.  I don’t remember when I first met him, but I have been reading his work since he reported for the Community Nutrition Institute’s newsletter, Nutrition Week.  For those of us outside the Beltway in those pre-Internet days, Nutrition Week was a lifeline to the ins and outs of food politics in Washington, DC.  Later, when Steve moved to Food Chemical News, also—and still—a lifeline, I continued to read his reporting. I often ran across him at meetings and hearings in Washington, DC and found it instructive to read what he wrote about those deliberations, not least because he got it right.

         I say all this because he has been a keen observer of the food politics scene in Washington for decades, and I can’t think of anyone who ought to know it better. Fixing the Food System reviews the major debates he witnessed—the Dietary Guidelines, of course, but also attempts to set policy for food safety, marketing to children, hunger in America, and humane treatment of farm animals, among others.

         Over the years, he also observed the work of policy advocates, and this book includes profiles of many individuals engaged in this work, some likely to be familiar to readers, whereas others may not. Impossible as it is for me to judge whatever impact my own writing and advocacy might have, I am honored to be included among those whose work he presents.

         Fixing the Food System describes political arguments over the kind of food system we ought to have and what an ideal system should accomplish. But it is also about the importance of personal and political advocacy for  better food policies, those aimed squarely at promoting public health and environmental sustainability.

         Advocacy makes a difference. Advocates are scoring successes in improving one after another aspect of the food system. In comparison to the 1970s or 1980s, we now have better food in supermarkets, more organic foods, more farmers’ markets, more nutritious food in schools, and impressive declines in consumption of sugary drinks. My personal favorite among indicators of advocacy success—the change that makes me most optimistic—is the increasing number of college students who care deeply about food issues.  They are demanding local, seasonal, organic, and sustainably produced food in their cafeterias and campus vegetable gardens. And they are demanding and getting food studies courses and programs like the ones we started at New York University in 1996 that teach about how food is produced and consumed and the practical and symbolic meanings of food in modern culture and societies. Today’s students are tomorrow’s advocates for healthier and more sustainable diets for everyone, everywhere, and for fixing what needs fixing in our food systems. This book is a great starting place for this work.

         Steve Clapp passed away on December 1, 2016. He was an active and long-time member of FON and was vice presdient of FON at the time of his death. This review was originglly published on the website Food Politics in December 2016 (http://www.foodpolitics.com/2016/12/farewell-steve-clapp-and-thank-you-for-your-legacy/) and is published here with permission of the author.

  • May 03, 2017 8:43 AM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)

    The RPCV Oral History Archives Project: Stories of Odd Ball Kids Recorded for Posterity

    by Mimi Budd (15) 65-67

         The RPCV Oral History Archives Project was the brainchild of RPCV Bob Klein who began the project in 1999.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Bob was a member of Ghana 1, 1961-63. He taught in a secondary school in Sefwi-Wiawso and later served as PC staff in Ghana and in Kenya. In the 1990s, now retired, Bob decided to interview other members of Ghana 1, with a view towards eventually writing a book. (The book, entitled Being First, was published in 2010.) 

         Bob caught the oral history bug. He realized that returned volunteers beyond his group would also have fascinating stories to tell. He thought someday researchers would want to know more about these odd-ball kids who dropped everything to go off to far-flung parts of the world to work in untried programs. Bob approached the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston about recording these oral histories. They agreed! Together with the library archivists. Bob developed a protocol for recording the interviews. The recorded interviews become part of the National Archives and are in the public domain. As of May, 2017, the library houses some 600 recorded interviews of RPCVs. The most recent 70 interviews have been recorded digitally, (since 2015,) and most are now available online. https://www.jfklibrary.org/Search.aspx?nav=N:4294884964

         Alas, from 1999 until early 2015, approximately 530 interviews were recorded on audio cassette tape, making access to these more difficult. For the complete Finding Aid for all recorded RPCV interviews, go to https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/RPCV.aspx?f=1.

          The original intent was to interview early volunteers who served during Kennedy’s administration, but over time the library agreed to expand the base to returned volunteers who served whenever and wherever with the Peace Corps. 

         Bob Klein was joined by Phyllis Noble (17) 65-67, a teacher in Ugelli, who met Klein in 2004 when he was criss-crossing the country a couple of times a year in his two-door Toyota Echo interviewing volunteers. He 

    found her name on the Hospitality Network that listed volunteers willing to host traveling RPCVs.  The 

    found her name on the Hospitality Network that listed volunteers willing to host traveling RPCVs.  

    (Left) Phyllis Noble addressing the FON annual meeting in Nashville.

    The relationship evolved and they lived and traveled together doing interviews from 2007 until 2012 when Bob died. She says that he was a master interviewer who was truly gifted in bringing people out. Her own interview techniques are based on notes she took of the questions she heard him asking people when they first traveled together. Phyllis recorded her first interview in 2008 when they interviewed a couple simultaneously, he the husband in one room; she the wife in another. 

         Since then, Phyllis has traveled widely and completed 64 interviews. She has trained several other RPCVs to conduct interviews. She has not only sustained Klein’s original project, but has transformed it into the modern age. Interviewers for the project now use digital equipment.

         Of primary importance now is the digitizing of the 530 taped interviews now on the shelves at the JFK Library. Digitalized interviews are better preserved and their longevity ensured. They are also much more easily accessed online for those interested in reading or studying these histories. Noble’s current project is to raise money to pay for the cost of digitalizing all the taped interviews.

         Noble estimates some 50 people have been involved in interviewing over the years. Currently, she estimates there are eight to 10 people making recordings. The expenses involved in securing these interviews are largely self-financed. Klein and Noble crossed the country doing interviews and stayed with volunteers when possible to help with expenses. Klein was able to secure a couple of small grants from the JFK Library at the beginning of the project. Otherwise, they paid for their own motels, cars, gas and meals. Noble says regional RPCV groups sometimes help with the expenses incurred by volunteers who do these interviews. 

         When asked her vision for the future of the project, in addition to securing funding to digitalize the taped interviews, she said she hopes more RPCVs will commit to the project. It is a serious commitment involving scheduling, travel, setting up digital equipment, conducting a two- hour interview, writing a short abstract paragraph about the nuts and bolts of the interview, and then transferring the digital recording to the JFK library which takes some time. But she believes that the commitment is well worth it to ensure an historical record is preserved of the experiences and contributions of Peace Corps Volunteers around the world.

         Those interested in accessing information about the collection of taped and digital interviews can do so at the website for the JFK Library in Boston at www.jfklibrary.org   

  • February 10, 2017 3:07 PM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)


    Brent K. Ashabranner (Staff) 1961

         Brent Ashabranner of Williamsburg, VA passed away December 1, 2016 at age 95. He was born in Shawnee, OK in 1921. He will be remembered by friends and family as a warm man with a great sense of humor, who lived his adventurous life with courage and integrity.

         He and his wife, Martha White Ashabranner, who survives him, moved to Williamsburg in 1988. They married at 19 and celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary in August. Ashabranner served in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee in the Pacific during WWII. After graduating with a master’s in English, he taught at Ohio State University for several years. In 1955 he accepted a position in curriculum development in Ethiopia, leaving the U.S. with his wife and two young daughters for the next 30 years. He worked in Libya, started the first Peace Corps program in Nigeria in 1961, served as the Peace Corps director in India and then as the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps from 1967-1969. After working with the Ford Foundation for 10 years in the Philippines and Indonesia, he retired in 1985. In retirement he wrote over 30 books for junior readers on cross-cultural topics and won over 40 awards for his body of work. 

         Besides his wife, he is survived by daughters Melissa Ashabrannner (Jean-Keith Fagon) of Washington, D.C. and Jennifer Ashabranner of Alexandria, VA; grandchildren Damian Fagon-Karraker, Giancarlo Fagon, and Olivia-Jene Fagon; and a great-grandson, Neo Lucas Fagon.

         [Source: Virginia Gazette, December 3, 2016]

    Janice K. Phillips Bianchi (18) 66-67

         Jan Bianchi died in the early morning of August 20, 2016 at the age of 72. Jan was surrounded by love and laughter throughout her illness and was fortunate to have enthusiastic care and support from her families of origin and choice.

         Born in Wichita, KS to David and Bettie Phillips, Jan was the youngest of three girls. She was preceded in death by her parents and sister, Tricia. The family moved to Seattle in 1955 and while international travel took her abroad for a few years, she loved the Northwest and particularly the Pacific Coast. Jan served in the Peace Corps in Imo, Eastern Nigeria. After graduating from law school, she lived in Sao Tome, a beautiful equatorial island in West Africa, and later in Portugal before returning to Seattle.

         A fighter for social justice and equal rights, Jan began her law career at Evergreen Legal Services and then had her own practice in Columbia City. She finished her law career at the Washington State Department of Revenue. In her free time she worked to ensure full access to legal abortion for women in Washington State, LGBTQ equality and advancing other progressive causes. In retirement she became a woodworker and built many beautiful pieces of furniture.

         Along with friends and family, Jan built an amazing cabin overlooking the ocean, which was her favorite place. Anyone lucky enough to have visited knows well the special nature of the cabin, and Jan’s expectation that a visitor would help cut trees, haul brush or relax in the hand-made wood-fired hot tub she built.

         Jan was preceded in death by the two loves of her life, Barry Bianchi and Sue Schubert. She is survived by her two grandsons, Barry and Wyatt, who she thought were utterly amazing, as well as her daughter, Rachel. Her sister, Judy, also survives her and was a blessing during her illness, which allowed the two to deepen their relationship.

         [Source: The Seattle Times, August 28, 2016]

    Stephen C. Clapp (6) 62-64

         Stephen Clapp of Jeffersonton, VA died unexpectedly on December 1, 2016. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Journalism School, Steve Clapp was a writer and editor who covered food policy in Washington, D.C. for more than 40 years. His last book, Fixing the Food System, was scheduled for publication in November, 2016, just before his death. The book is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1Pyq9Mc.

         Prior to establishing himself in Washington, Steve served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yola, Nigeria. His memoir of his Peace Corps experience, Africa Remembered: Adventures in Post-Colonial Nigeria and Beyond, went on sale in the Smithsonian Museum of African Art and other outlets.

          Moving to Washington in 1966, Clapp joined the Office of Inspection in the ill-fated U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity. For three exciting years, he and his colleagues investigated and evaluated antipoverty programs in the Midwest and South. Professionally speaking, Clapp moved from poverty into hunger and malnutrition; the common theme being food. From 1971 to 1983, he edited Nutrition Week, the newsletter of the Community Nutrition Institute. He then served as communications coordinator at Interfaith Action for Economic Justice, an antipoverty lobby funded by religious denominations and agencies.

         During this period, he got caught up in the long-distance running movement. He ran his first marathon in 1974 and began writing about the sport for the Washington Post and various magazines. In 1978 he was asked to edit Footnotes, a quarterly tabloid published by the Road Runners Club of America that reached more than 100,000 running club members across the nation. He held that semi-volunteer post for a dozen years.

         After leaving Interfaith Action, Clapp became a freelance journalist specializing in food and nutrition policy. In 1993 he moved to Brussels to serve as European editor of World Food Chemical News, a newsletter covering international food regulation. Soon after his return to Washington, he was hired to edit that publication, which was subsequently merged with the flagship newsmagazine Food Chemical News.

         Before retiring in 2013, Clapp served as senior editor of Food Chemical News and managing editor of the monthly Food Traceability Report, and later became a part-time contributing editor. He wrote articles on a variety of topics for the Washington Post and the Washingtonian magazine.

         At the time of his death he was the vice president of Friends of Nigeria and secretary of the Peace Corps Alumni Foundation, which provides scholarships for secondary schoolgirls in northern Nigeria and for students at the American University of Nigeria.

         Steve Clapp is survived by his wife, Bette Hilerman, also a retired journalist, five children and nine grandchildren.

         [Source: Provided by Stephen Clapp’s family]

    Robert D. (Bob) Cohen (4) 62-64

         Robert Cohen of Bethlehem, PA died suddenly at the age of 78 at home on December 6, 2016. He was born in Springfield, OH on November 19, 1938 to Beatrice (Lopper) and Arthur R. Cohen, M.D. both deceased.

         He lived his life fully with an abundance of energy and a great capacity for service to others while also attending to his own needs for creativity and self-expression. 

         Bob graduated from Cornell University in 1960. He also received an M.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an Ed.D. in student personnel from Teachers College, Columbia University.

         He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nigeria teaching English literature in Ibadan from 1962 to 1964. He returned to the Peace Corps as an administrator in Liberia from 1965 to 1967. Later in life Bob served as a member of the board of directors of Friends of Nigeria.

         Cohen came to Bethlehem to be the associate dean of students at Lehigh University in 1979 following his work at Hunter College in New York City as the foreign student advisor and acting dean of students. Retiring in 2010, he followed three passions: music, singing, and acting.

          Bob was a board member and president of the Bethlehem Rotary Club, serving three years. He was on the board of Bethlehem Public Library and an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lehigh Valley.

          Bob is survived by his wife of 42 years, Amy Miller Cohen, his children, Samuel A. Cohen (Liliana) of East Brunswick, NJ, Anna C. Cohen of Bethlehem, his grandchildren, Madalynn E. Cohen and Christopher A. Cohen, his brother Bill Cohen (Randi) of Columbus, OH, his sister, Marian Weiss (Bruce) of Woodstock, IL, his nieces, Emily W. O’Conner (Rich) of Northbrook, IL and Hannah B. Cohen, and his twin grandnieces, Abigail and Isabella O’Conner.

          [Source: The Morning Call, Bethlehem, PA, December 10, 2016]

    Philip Dacey (7) 63-65

         Philip Dacey died peacefully at home in Minneapolis, MN at the age of 77 on July 7, 2016. He was born in St. Louis, MO. 

         Dacey taught poetry for 34 years at Southwest Minnesota State University and published 13 books of poetry. Philip was educated at St. Louis University, Stanford University and the University of Iowa. He taught in the Peace Corps in Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria and later at Miles College in Birmingham, AL along with his then-wife, Florence Chard Dacey. In 1970 he accepted a professorship at Southwest Minnesota State. Philip directed the creative writing program and founded an annual international literary festival. After retiring in 2004, he lived for eight years in Manhattan before returning to Minnesota to live on Lake Calhoun with his long-time partner Alixa Doom. 

         Philip is survived by his three children, Emmett, Austin and Fay, and Fay’s daughters, Sorcha and Ingrid. He was comforted in his final months by his partner, Alixa, and by contact with scores of friends and former students.

         [Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 16, 2016]

    Calvin Oliver Graham (11) 64-66

         Calvin Graham was born March 12, 1940 in Hominy, OK to Lester James and Chrissie Beryl (LeMaster) Graham. Calvin passed away on May 31, 2016 at the Cleveland Manor Nursing Home in Cleveland, OK. Calvin will always be remembered for his abundance of musical talent, his razor-sharp wit, his winning smile, and his persuasive personality.

         Graham went to Oklahoma State University where he majored in English. After receiving his B.A., he continued post-graduate studies at OSU and worked as a graduate assistant in the English department. After earning his M.A. he served in the Peace Corps teaching English at Ihiala in Eastern Nigeria. Calvin cherished his time spent in the Peace Corps and spoke of it often. He attended a 50th reunion of his training group in California in 2015 and enjoyed it immensely.

         Upon his return to the United States, Calvin worked in Texas briefly before embarking on his next adventure in New York City, where he remained for over 40 years. He first worked as a technical writer at Panasonic for 15 years. He spent four years in San Diego, CA as a textbook publisher at Coronado Publishing. Moving back to New York, Calvin became a transcriptionist at the United Nations for a few years. He then worked at Merrill Lynch as a word processor until his medical retirement. He remained in New York for another two years before returning to Oklahoma where he lived at the Baptist Village and finally at the Cleveland Manor nursing Home.

         Calvin was preceded in death by his father, Lester, and his mother, Beryl. He is survived by his sister, Chrissie Childers, and her husband, Dick, brother Marion Graham and wife Linda, one niece, Kelly Childers Friedburg and husband, Ron, three nephews, Richard Childres and wife Kristy, Tom Graham and wife Kim, and Jon Graham and his friend, Amy Dobbins. He was also great-uncle to Madison, Mallory, Bryan and Bailey Childers, as well as Devon, Wyatt and Madilyn Graham.

         [Source: Poteet Funeral Home]

    Arlene Fay Marans (7) 63-65

         Arlene Fay Marans died peacefully on August 2, 2016 at the age of 80. She was born on July 17, 1936 in Frank, PA to the late Joseph Tokar and Edith (Crosser) Tokar.

         Marans graduated from McKeesport High School near Pittsburgh, PA and worked for 5 years as a bookkeeper for an electrical company. Following that job, she earned a degree in Education at Malone College, Ohio. She taught a few years in Pennsylvania before joining the Peace Corps, serving 2 years in Aba, Nigeria. Returning to the U.S. she moved to New York City and attended NYU for her M.A. in Education. She started teaching at a Manhattan Junior High School where she made many friends. Arlene retired after 25 years. She enjoyed cooking, entertaining, and playing cards. She was an avid reader. While her husband continued teaching, she took courses in photography and art at a community college. In 1992 when her husband retired, they moved to Ormond Beach, FL. She enjoyed the beach and made many new friendships. Best of all she enjoyed traveling to many countries and cruising. 

         Arlene leaves behind her husband, Ronald, of 43 years, her sister, Kathy Street, brother-in-law, George Street, brother Joel Tokar and his wife, Elaina Tokar, sister-in-law, Janeen Tokar, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brothers, Joseph and Kenneth Tokar.

         [Source: Dayton Beach News-Journal]

    Alan M. Margolis (1) 61-63

         Alan Margolis died on February 17, 2016. He had a 50-plus year career in education for the City University of New York. He was in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to Nigeria in 1961 where he taught English for two years at Ile-Ife. Margolis wrote several books on Nigerian education and continued to support education for international students who wanted to study in the United States.

         He is survived by his wife, Susan Smith Margolis, of Forest Hills, NY; his daughter, Sarah (Margolis) Katz and son-in-law, Larry Katz of Ridgefield, CT; his son, Jason Margolis and daughter-in-law, Maria Wisler Margolis of Pittsburgh, PA; and five grandchildren.

         [Source: The Ridgefield (CT) Press]

    John James ‘Jack’ McCaffrey (9) 63-65

         Jack McCaffrey, 85, passed away peacefully with his family at his side on July 5, 2016. He was the beloved husband of Parvin (Zafaradl) McCaffrey, with whom he shared 43 years of marriage. A son of the late John and the late Katherine (Garrigan) McCaffrey, he was born May 30, 1931 in New York City, NY, and at a young age moved with his family to Lowell, MA.

         McCaffrey served with the United States Air Force during the Korean War as a staff sergeant. Following his honorable discharge, he earned a B.S. in Education from Suffolk University and a master’s degree from Tufts University.

         From 1957 to 1962 he taught English at Suffolk University and Emerson College before joining the Peace Corps, where he taught English in Ijero-Ekiti, Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. Back in the United States, he taught at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell from 1966 until he retired in 2005. In retirement Jack tended his rose garden of over 55 individual rose bushes. He was a voracious reader and a talented chef. He collected sea shells, mostly from his winter residence on Sanibel Island, FL.

         In addition to his wife, Parvin, he is survived by his son, Thomas Jefferson McCaffrey and his wife, Chrystal-Leigh, of Merrimack, NH; his brother, Robert P. McCaffrey of Hudson, NH; his sister, Barbara Breakey of Wilmington; and several nieces and nephews. He was also a brother of the late Gerald McCaffrey.

         [Source: Lowell (MA), Sun, July 7, 2016]

    Frederick James Morgan, Jr. (11) 64-66

         Frederick Morgan died peacefully at his home in Lee, NH on September 12, 2016 at the age of 77. He was born in Franklin, NH September 2, 1939 and raised in Bristol, NH.

         Morgan received a bachelor’s degree from Keene State College in 1961. He taught in the public schools in Newport, NH from 1961 to 1963. From 1964 to 1966 he served in the Peace Corps in Agbede, Nigeria. In 1970 he began his career with New Hampshire Employment Security and later retired as a labor market analyst in 1994.

         He leaves his son, Scott James Morgan, and his wife, Amy, along with his two beloved grandchildren, Allie Hudson and Zach Hudson, and his favorite fur baby, Ryder Lee.

         [Source: Cremation Society of New Hampshire]

    John J. Mugavero, Jr. (22) 66-68

         John Mugavero, 71, passed away peacefully on October 23, 2015 at Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill, MA, with his loving family by his side. He was born in Lawrence, MA, son of the late John J. Sr. and Ida (Zinno) Mugavero. 

         John served in the Peace Corps in Nigeria from 1966 to 1968.

         Mugavero taught math at Wakefield High School for 33 years and also coached track. After retiring, he worked as a substitute teacher at Methuen High School for 10 years. He was a driver’s education instructor for many years at North Andover driving school and for All Safe driving school. John was very active at St. Lucy’s Parish where he served as a lector, confirmation teacher, Eucharistic minister, RCIA teacher and also assisted at funerals as a server. John was a loving husband and father and cherished every minute he had watching his children grow up. He assisted coaching Joseph during his years of sports. He was an avid Boston sports fan and enjoyed attending games with Joseph over the years.

         He is survived by his loving wife, Marilyn A. (Conte) Mugavero of Methuen; his son, Joseph A. Mugavero of Methuen; and his daughter, Elizabeth C. Mugavero of Willimantic, CT. He also leaves his sister, Mary Ester Cordaro and her husband, Joseph of Nashua, NH; and his brother, Joseph Mugavero, and his wife, Angelia of Dallas, TX; and several nieces and nephews. 

         [Source: Eagle Tribune (MA)]

    Terry D. Sadler (22) 66-68

         Terry Sadler unexpectedly passed away March 2015 in his favorite chair. He was 71 years old. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah into a family of fourteen children, he had wonderful memories of growing up with so many brothers and sisters.

         Terry studied zoology and received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah in 1966. It was his goal to join the Peace Corps. He did his training in Boston that summer and went to Bukuru, Nigeria to teach biology and chemistry in an all-boys government secondary school in Kuru, near Jos. He loved his experience and took every opportunity to meet the villagers and play basketball with his boys. He was there during the Biafran uprising and never forgot the horror of the massacre.

         Two days after he came home in 1968 he started teaching biology in an all-girls private high school. Also awaiting him was a draft notice and his girlfriend! He wasn’t drafted! Pam and Terry were happily married in April of 1969.

         Sadler settled into a 30 year career in the field of environmental health. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Health and retired as the director of Salt Lake City/County Environmental Health Department. He initiated the Non-Smoking Act in Utah, the Clean Air initiative, car emissions testing, and helped get many laws passed to ensure the health of the citizens of Salt Lake County. He was very well respected, received many awards, and had many lifelong friends. 

         In his private life, Terry was the caring father of two daughters and a son. He raised them with open minds, a thirst for learning, and the desire to serve others. Each one thinks they were his very favorite! He was the “Papa” to 8 grand kids. He enjoyed doing projects or taking adventures with all of them – even the babies. Every week he would come up with a new idea and somewhere to go with them. They miss him.

         Pam and Terry went on many wonderful trips together, combing the beautiful world that Utah offers naturalists. They stayed for weeks in their small trailer birding in Arizona, Death Valley and surrounding areas, and Big Bend in Texas. Spending the Fall season in Yellowstone photographing the wild life and hiking was almost a yearly experience. His photographs of three grizzlies in Glacier Park was printed and written about in the Salt Lake Tribune. Terry and Pam slept in hammocks in the jungles of Guyana, spent nights in a yurt in Mongolia on their Siberian Railroad trip, visited the locks of Panama Canal while birding in the jungles there, and so enjoyed the beauty of the quiet backways of Gifu Prefecture in Japan while visiting their daughter. 

         Terry had a happy, full life. He would always say, “We have to do it now as our windows are closing.” He would invite you to do the same.

         [Source: Special to Friends of Nigeria by Terry’s wife, Pam Sadler]

    David S. Seeley (Staff) 61-62

         David Seeley died November 20, 2016 at the age of 85 in Staten Island University Hospital. Born in New York City, he grew up in Stamford, CT. He earned bachelor’s and law degrees from Yale University and a doctorate in education from Harvard University.

         David spent a year (1961) in Ibadan, Nigeria as a Peace Corps staff member with Harvard’s teacher training program. He was accompanied by his wife, Anna Mae, and their three children.

         Dr. Seeley described himself as an accidental educator. Originally a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under President Dwight Eisenhower from 1956 to 1959, he was appointed assistant U.S. education commissioner under President Lynden Johnson, and he participated in the effort to desegregate schools following the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “I wanted to be a soldier in the desegregation battle,” he said.

         He also yearned to mobilize society on behalf of children. “Everyone shares the responsibility, even if you don’t have kids. Every child in your community, that’s your future, and you really should treasure that child and try to help her or him be as successful as possible,” he said.

         Dr. Seeley worked with the U.S. Office of Education from 1963 until 1967, when he became director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Education Liaison under John Lindsay. A year later he switched to addressing education issues outside government, as a senior staff associate at the Metropolitan Applied Research Center under Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, the noted national civil rights leader, psychologist and educator.

         David began his notable College of Staten Island career in 1980, and became a full professor in 1986. From 1985 to 2000, he was coordinator of the Educational Leadership Program, which he helped revise and transform. He was named professor emeritus and retired in 2003, but his efforts to further education, particularly in Island schools, never wavered. Dr. Ruth Silverberg of CSI’s Education Department said, “His legacy will continue in our work to foster schooling that educates all students at the highest levels and prepares them for meaningful participation in the lives of their communities.”

         Dr. Seeley had many interests, but he especially loved sailing and had crossed the Atlantic as a crew member in his younger years. Music was another passion, and he was a stalwart member of the Richmond Choral Society, singing in many concerts until last year.

         Assemblyman Matt Titone (D-North Shore) said, “He was a moral compass, and his life touched and influenced many, many people in a positive way.”

         Nathaniel Seeley, David’s son, said, “My father viewed happiness and hope as choices. He chose them for himself and urged us and others to do the same.”

         Mae, his wife of 52 years, died in 2008. Surviving, along with his son, Nat, and his daughter, Anne, are his daughters, Sarah Mitchell, Mary Seeley and Louise Seeley, and six grandchildren.

         [Source: Staten Island Live]

    Nicholas Wicker Thiemann (12) 64-66

         Nicholas Thiemann died at home on October 27, 2016 in Westport, CT. He was 76.

         Nick grew up in Greenwich, son of the late Aloys and Elizabeth Thiemann. He spent many years active in Westport life, including serving as a member of the Board of Finance and the Flood and Erosion Control Board. He also ran for First Selectman on the Democratic ticket in 1993 and served as a Selectman from 1993-1997.

         Thiemann left Greenwich to attend college at the University of Connecticut and law school at the University of Virginia. After graduating from UVA, he spent two years in Eastern Nigeria with the Peace Corps as a rural development officer in Nkwerre and Umuogbo near Orlu.

         Upon returning to Connecticut, nick joined the law firm of Senie, Stock and LaChance, moving to Westport in 1967. Soon after, he branched out on his own and kept a law practice in Westport until his death. He also served in a number of official capacities for the State of Connecticut as a member of the Commission on Human Rights and Disabilities and as a magistrate in the court system, hearing cases in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford.

          Outside of work, Nick was an avid golfer, spending many wonderful afternoons at Longshore with his family. He was also a talented singer and musician, performing for the last 25 years with the Fairfield County Chorale and the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut. 

         He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Helen Clark Thiemann, of Westport, son Clark Thiemann (Jennifer) of Norwalk, and a granddaughter, Molly. He was predeceased by his sister, Susan Sommer.

         [Source: RPCV Catherine Onyemelukwe]

  • February 10, 2017 2:58 PM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)

    Denver Meeting Taking Shape

    by Greg Jones (22) 66-68

         We need your participation, ideas, and conviviality in the Rockies this summer for our Friends of Nigeria biennial meeting in Denver. Please save the date, Friday August 4, and stay tuned for further details. Our meeting is being held in conjunction with the National Peace Corps Connect meeting, Aug. 4-6, so you'll have an opportunity to interact with returned Peace Corps volunteers from around the world for part of your time in Denver. Our goal is to create a meeting that will be interesting to you and get you participating and to ask your opinion about some of the crucial issues facing Friends of Nigeria

         A dynamic organizing committee is scheduling a variety of activities, events and discussions, including a festive dinner on Friday or Saturday with informal group gatherings facilitated for the "other" night. (Traditional Nigerian meal? Stay tuned). If you have ideas and wish to join our organizing committee, please email us at fonigeria@gmail.com. Any of you from Colorado interested? We could sure use your inside knowledge.

         We have a number of potential speakers selected to match the interests and concerns of our far flung membership. We intend to send out a list of timely and compelling books by Nigerians and will ask you to join panels and discussions about the books that you have read before arriving in Denver. We are developing a theme that will enable all of us to address large but focused issues of interest to our members and beyond.

         Last year’s meeting had very good speakers, but too many of them.  This year we intend to have a looser schedule, with more time for you to socialize with FON friends.  We certainly will present interesting things that relate to Nigeria, but we will try not to overwhelm you.

    The NPCA meetings are being held at the University of Denver. We will hold our FON meetings either at the university or at a nearby hotel. The biennial meeting is required by FON's bylaws, and member participation is encouraged, including attendance at a FON Board of Directors meeting, Thursday, Aug. 3, probably at our headquarters hotel.

           Denver and its rich natural surroundings will be at your disposal.

           We'll post more details as they become available.

  • February 10, 2017 2:54 PM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)

    Nigeria News

    by Virginia DeLancey (04) 62-64

    President Buhari Took Extended Medical Leave

        President Muhammadu Buhari extended a 10-day medical leave in the United Kingdom, disclosing in a short statement to the National Assembly that it was to enable him to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.  The President left for London on January 19, but his Special Advisor on Media and Publicity did not disclose when he would return.  Before departure, Buhari made a temporary transfer of power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

         The request deepened suspicions among many Nigerians that the president’s health is worse than officials are admitting publicly.  His extended leave could further erode confidence in his administration, already under pressures from investors to let Nigeria’s currency float freely to try to revive an oil-driven economy that is at its weakest in 25 years.

         While Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said that the president is not in any serious medical condition, he declined to give any details of the medical checks and said that there was no expected date of return.  This caused some Nigerians to take to social media to demand more details on the president’s health.  (Source:  Daily Trust [Abuja], 2/5/17; Premium Times [Abuja], 2/5/17; World News [U.S. edition], 2/5/17). 

    Former Nigeria President Meets U.S. Lawmakers

         Former President Goodluck Jonathan met with the U.S. Congress House Sub Committee on Africa to speak on the Niger Delta issue and the challenges facing Christians in Nigeria.  The meeting was part of the efforts of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation to fulfill its mission to promote peace and prosperity in Nigeria and Africa.  It was attended by the Chairman of the House Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, Congressman Christopher H. Smith, and other influential staff of the Committee.  (Source:  Premium Times [Abuja], 2/2/17).

    SERAP Writes Trump, Demands Return of Nigeria’s Stolen Assets

         The civil society group Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, urging his “Administration to attach and release to Nigeria some $500 million worth of US-based proceeds of corruption traced to former Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha.”  The organization said that, “These proceeds are separate from the $480 million of Abacha-origin funds that have been forfeited to the U.S. under an August 2014 US Federal District Court order.  SERAP’s request is fully consistent with the UN Convention Against Corruption, which both the US and Nigeria have ratified.”  Article 51 of that convention provides for the return of “corrupt” assets to countries of origin as a fundamental principle.  Articles 43 and 47 are also relevant to the request.  (Source:  Vanguard [Lagos], 2/5/17).

    Tuface Calls for Anti-Government Protest, then Cancels It

         Popular artist Innocent Idibia, better known as Tuface, called for, then cancelled, a much-publicized February 6 anti-government protest, citing “security challenges.”  He initially called for a nation-wide protest of Nigeria’s worsening economic crisis that has seen costs of goods and services rise with many families struggling to survive.  Police promised to provide security, then later warned against it, saying that they had “credible intelligence” that other groups were planning counter protests on the same day and at the same venues.  They warned that the event could turn violent.  As expected then, a group called “I stand with Buhari” announced pro-Buhari campaigns on February 6 and 7. 

         After the police warning, Tuface announced on Saturday night that he had cancelled the protest, for security reasons.  In reaction, Nobel Laureate WoleSoyinka criticized the Nigerian police for planning to stop the anti-government protest, saying, “An unnecessary but important reminder:  the battle for the right of lawful assembly of citizens in any cause, conducted peacefully, has been fought and won many times over.”

         Despite the cancellation by Tuface and the security warnings, his group decided to go ahead with the protest, saying that the protest had gone beyond Tuface.  Other organizers, like the “Enough is Enough” group also said that they would proceed with the protest in both Lagos and Abuja.  Debisi Alokolaro, the spokesperson for the group said that the “I Stand With Nigeria/One Voice Nigeria” rally is being staged to protest the corruption and worsening standard of living under the Muhammadu Buhari administration at all levels of government.  (Source:  Premium Times [Abuja], 2/5/17).

    Nigeria Deployed Over 300 Police Officers Abroad in 2016

         The Nigeria Police said that it deployed over 300 personnel, including 57 females, for peacekeeping operations across Africa and the Caribbean in 2016.  The Director of the Directorate of Peace Keeping, Nigeria Police, said that personnel were sent to Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, DR Congo, Liberia, and Haiti.  He said that Nigeria was the largest contributor of female personnel for peace- keeping in Africa, with 22 of the women going to Mali and 36 to Somalia.  (Source:  Premium Times [Abuja], 2/5/17).   

    Government to Deploy Drones to Protect Electricity Transmission Equipment

         The Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, says that it will deploy drones to check vandalism of its transmission lines and equipment in the country.  The TCN Managing Director, Atiku Abubakar, said that he is looking forward to the cooperation of the National Assembly to pass laws to deal with vandalism of critical infrastructures.  He also said that the vandalism of transmission equipment was responsible for the collapse of some of the transmission lines in the country.  (Source:  Premium Times [Abuja], 2/2/17).

    Federal Government to Remain Within the International Criminal Court

         The Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains that the Federal Government will remain with the International Criminal Court (ICC).  In January, during the 28th African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, the AU called for collective withdrawal of its members from the Court because they were not fairly treated by  it.  However, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said that Nigeria’s stand on the issue had not changed.  He explained that there was a strategy adopted by the AU for collective withdrawal from the ICC to which Nigeria did not subscribe.  According to him, Nigeria and others believe that the court has an important role to play in holding leaders accountable.  Senegal and Cape Verde also made it clear that they were not going to leave, as did Zambia, Tanzania, Liberia, and Botswana, while a number of other countries requested more time to study the decision before making a decision.  In 2016, Burundi, South Africa, and The Gambia declared their intention to withdraw, while Namibia, Kenya, and Uganda were contemplating withdrawing.

         African countries have repeatedly criticized the court as an inefficient, neo-colonial institution of the Western powers to try African countries.  The criticism is supported by the fact that 9 of the 10 situations under investigation, with three others under preliminary investigation, involve African countries.  (Source:  Daily Trust [Abuja], 2/1/17). 

    Nigerian Air Force Makes Catastrophic Error

         A Nigerian military jet mistakenly bombed a camp for internally displaced people in the town of Rann on January 17. Initial reports indicated that the accident killed at least 70, including nine humanitarian workers, and injured more than 100.  Later reports indicated that 112 had been killed and 97 were injured. The fighter jet struck twice while hunting for members of Boko Haram.  The Nigerian air force has launched an investigation into the strike.  (Source:  Time, 1/30/17; This Day [Lagos], 2/3/17).

    Five Nigerian UN Officials are Killed by Cameroonian Bandits

         The Adamawa State Commissioner of Land and Survey, Ibrahim Mijinyawa,has attributed the death of five Nigerian officials on a UN team to inadequate security escort.  Bandits attacked the officials who were on a trip to Koncha area in Cameroon for a border demarcation exercise.  A recent International Court of Justice ruling ceded some Nigerian communities to Cameroon.

         The gendarme security men attached to the UN team had engaged the suspected bandits in a gun battle when a second group of gunmen attacked the officials, killing all of them.  (Source:  Daily Trust [Abuja], 2/3/17; Vanguard [Lagos], 2/2/17).

    Borno Governor Orders Arrest of Anyone Linked to Boko Haram

         The Borno State Governor has charged security operatives to arrest anyone linked to Boko Haram, even if they are his children.  He stated this in a seven-minute video broadcast on February 2.  His state is the most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

         Some public officials in Borno, including a local government chairman, have since been arrested by the military for alleged links to the terror group.  Despite losing a large chunk of their former base in Sambisa forest to Nigerian forces, Boko Haram still carries out attacks on military and civilian targets.  (Source:  Premium Times [Abuja], 2/3/ 17). 

    Niger Delta Villagers Lose UK Court Bid to Sue Shell Over Pollution

         A British court has blocked Nigerian villagers’ attempt to sue oil giant Shell for allegedly polluting their fishing waters and farmland.  Two communities in the Niger Delta, Ogale and Bille, claim decades of oil spills have ruined their homes and wanted their case heard in the UK.  However, the high court in London agreed with the Anglo-Dutch company’s argument that the case, affecting more than 40,000 people, should be heard by local courts in Nigeria.  The villagers have repeatedly said that they will not get a fair hearing in Nigeria.  

         Igo Well, a spokesman for the multinational’s subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), said that it was a myth that the communities could not get justice in their home country, as  claims are about the operations of a Nigerian company in Nigeria.  He maintained that it is about incidents related to sabotage, illegal refining, and crude thefts.

         Neither of the communities, who say that repeated spills since 1989 have meant that they do not have clean drinking water, farmland, or rivers, are ready to give up.  King Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi, ruler of the Ogale, said that the decision must be appealed, not just for the Ogale, but for many other people of the Niger Delta.  He emphasized that Shell is simply being asked to clean up its oil and to compensate the communities it has devastated.

         In 2014, another community in the delta, Bodo, took Shell to court in the UK over an oil spill.  The case was settled by Shell which provided an unprecedented $84 million payout to the Bodo community.  The difference in the latest case is that the Nigerian subsidiary SPDC has refused to submit to a UK jurisdiction.  (Source:  BBC, 1/26/17). 

    U.S.-Based Human Rights Lawyer Sues Government Over Chibok Girls

         A U.S. based human rights activist and lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe, has gone to federal government court to ask for $5 million for defamation over the status of 10 Chibok girls schooling in the U.S.  The defendants in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, and her ministry.  In the suit, the plaintiff accused Hajiya Alhassan of stating at a news conference that the ten Chibok girls his organization took to the U.S. are not in school. 

         Mr. Ogebe stated that in June 2014, he and some humanitarians of Borno State conceived a study abroad project to assist the abducted/escaped Chibok school girls after observing during a US Congressional fact-finding trip that nothing was being done for them individually or as a group.  According to him, he created a legitimate NGO, the Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI), to provide quality education for the escaped Chibok school girls and other victims of the insurgency.  He further said that through the EMCI, 10 of the escaped school girls of Chibok were granted admission and full scholarships in the U.S. and were subsequently taken to the U.S. where they were enrolled in and began school within a week of their arrival, with the plaintiff duly authorized as their Guardian by their respective families.  However, according to the plaintiff, the Minister of Women’s Affairs stated that the girls were not schooling in the U.S.  The plaintiff is asking the court for the sum of $5,000,000 as exemplary and aggravated damage.  He is also asking for an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants from further defaming his character.  (Source:  Leadership [Abuja], 2/3/17). 

    U.S. President Reinstates “Global Gag Order”

         During his first week in office, President Trump signed an executive order to stop federal money going to international groups which perform or provide information on abortions.  Known as the “Mexico City Policy” or “Global Gag Rule” by critics, it was no surprise that he reinstated it.  First introduced by Ronald Reagan in 1984, it has become a game of policy ping pong between Republican and Democratic presidents.

         Supporters of the ban say that it protects the fundamental right to life.  But, some health workers in Africa say that when it was last put in place under George W. Bush in 2001, it had far-reaching consequences.  They say that women who did not have access to contraceptive services were getting unintended pregnancies which increased the number of unwanted pregnancies, which sent them to backstreets to have unsafe abortions.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe abortion is one of the five main causes of maternal mortality, accounting for 13% of cases.

         The Trump order goes further than previous Republican administrations, which only targeted reproductive health services.  According to the organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), with the removal of funding from organizations that also deal with malaria and other child health issues, the policy could threaten progress on many fronts, including efforts to reduce HIV-related deaths and new infections, and decrease childhood mortality through malaria prevention, treatment provisions, and immunization programs.  (MSF does not receive U.S. funding, so it is not affected by the policy).

         Some of the largest organizations in Nigeria that will be affected by the ban include Marie Stopes International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation regional office in Africa, and USAID.  (Source:  BBC, 1/28/17).

    Chukwumerije Holds Fifth Edition of Night of Spoken Words in Abuja

         In his continued determination to revive poetry, an aspect of literature that has been relegated to the background in the country, Dike Chukwumerije’s Night of Spoken Words was scheduled for February 11, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.  Addressing journalists recently, Chukwumerije said that the introduction of performance poetry was aimed at bringing a bit of intellectualism into entertainment.  The 2011 Abuja Literary Society Poetry Slam winner explained that performance poetry is not the simple recitation of poems, but it is a modern and energetic form of poetry that combines the disciplines of traditional poetry with the power and charisma of dramatic performance, including the fusion of poetry with dance, with drama, with music. He believes that it is easier to grasp than written poetry.  He said that the current show would chronicle the history of Nigeria from 1914 to date, using essentially twenty poems that are seamlessly linked by dance, drama, and music.

         According to Chukwumerije, he has been organizing similar events twice a year since 2013, when he brings up-and-coming performance poets from around the country to the stage in Abuja for a 2-hour show.  (Source:  This Day [Lagos], 2/6/17).

    Film Producer is Arrested for Attempted N10 Million Fraud

         Detectives from the Lagos State Police Command arrested a prominent Yoruba film producer, Seun Agbegbe, over a N10 million fraud.  Agbegbe was arrested after he attempted to dupe a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator of N10 million at the Gbagada area of Lagos.  A witness said that the CEO of Ebony Productions had gone to the Bureau with his cronies to perpetrate the act, claiming to want to change some dollars into naira.  Instead, he tried to swindle the BDC operators, who raised the alarm and thoroughly beat him before the police whisked him away.

         This act came less than two months after he was arrested and detained by the police at Ikeja Police Division for allegedly stealing nine I-phone 6s valued at N2.4 million from the Kaaltex Innovation Consultancy at Computer Village, Ikeja.  He pleaded “not guilty” to that charge and was granted bail in the sum of N1million and two sureties in like sum by the court, after which he was whisked away to Kirikiri Minimum Prisons.  After his release, he went to Malaysia for vacation with plans to come back before his case was to be heard in court.  Apparently changing his mind, he came back early, only to be embroiled in the fresh scandal.  The investigation is said to be ongoing.  (Source:  Daily Trust [Abuja], 2/3/17; The Guardian [Lagos], 2/3/17).

    Wizkid Bags U.S. Award for Writing Drake’s “One Dance”

         Nigerian music sensation and Starboy Music Worldwide boss, Wizkid, earned another international award from The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), an American not-for-profit performance-rights organization that protects its members’ musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music.   

         The award was given to Wizkid in recognition of his role as the writer of Drake’s hit single “One Dance” which featured Wizkid and Kyla.  The song, which is on Drake’s album “Views”, was nominated at the Grammy Awards in the “Album of the Year” category.  It also occupied the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts for 10 weeks in a row.

         Wizkid and Drake have displayed a high rate of musical synergy ever since their first encounter on Wizkid’s single, “Ojuelegba,” which also featured UK rapper of Nigerian descent, Skepta.  (Source:  Premium Times, [Abuja], 2/3/17).

    First Nigerian Women’s Bobsled Team Hopes to Make History for Africa

         Three Nigerian-American women are making history, creating Africa’s first bobsled team and aiming to go to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.  Driver Seun Adigun, brakewoman Ngoze Onwumere, and Akuoma Omeoga all come from elite track and field backgrounds.  Adigun and Onwumere competed for the University of Houston and Omeoga was an athlete at the University of Minnesota.  

         Adigun, who is a chiropractic doctoral candidate, became interested in bobsled after she competed in the 2012 Summer Games in London and saw some of her teammates make the switch to the winter sport.  While training and competing with the American bobsled team last year, she learned that Nigeria was interested in expanding its winter sports program but did not have winter athletes and that no African country had ever been represented in bobsled.  She gained a release from the American team upon request so that she could develop the Nigerian program—a difficult choice to make.

         Adigun recruited Onwumere and Omeoga, whom she met through track and field, and convinced them to join her in creating the bobsled team.  She said that Nigeria is supportive of them.  She also feels confident of the team’s strategy of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics, calling their goals very realistic.  Their biggest problem right now, however, is that they do not have a sled.  Since launching a GoFundMe page in November, the team has raised more than $10,000.  In the meantime, they have been using a homemade sled called The Mayflower.  Adigun said that she spent three days hammering and drilling and sawing to put the wooden sled together.  The women still need to complete five races on three tracks by next January to qualify for the Olympics.  (Source:  CBS News,12/17/16; Global News, 12/13/16).

    Nigeria’s “Super Polygamist” Dies at Age 93

         Muslim cleric Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Bello Masaba died at the age of 93 in Bida, Niger State.  Referred to as the “Super Polygamist,” various sources reported that he had married 86 wives and had 170 children by 2008.  News correspondents later reported that he had 130 wives, some of whom are pregnant, and 203 children, as well as many grandchildren and “an army of dependents” by the time he died in January, 2017.

         His personal assistant said that Masaba was a godly man, that he had never in his life sought medical attention in a hospital, and that he did not use Western medicine either for himself or his followers.  He believed in divine medication from Almighty Allah.  (Sources:  Daily Trust [Abuja], 1/30/17; The Guardian [Lagos], 1/30/17).

    Groups Aim to Prevent Construction of Highway Through Rainforest

         Pressure is mounting to prevent the construction of a six-lane highway through the rainforest in Cross River State.  The road would be 162 miles long with 6 miles of cleared land on either side.  Conservationists say that the construction would displace at least 180 indigenous communities and slice through a national park and adjoining forest reserves that provide habitats for some of the country’s most beleaguered species, including the endangered Cross River gorilla, chimpanzees, forest elephants, and pangolins—the world’s most poached mammal, whose scales are prized in traditional medicine.

         As now planned, and approved by President Buhari, the road would cut through several protected areas such as the Cross River National Park, Ukpon River Forest Reserve, Cross River South Forest Reserve, Afi River Forest Reserve, and Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary.  These sites are home to various threatened species.  

         Seeking to persuade Nigerian authorities to halt the project, reroute it away from protected areas and community forests along the border area with Cameroon, or rehabilitate existing highways, the Wildlife Conservation Society has launched an international campaign.  By mid-December, it had generated more than 100,000 petition signatures according to officials from the organization.  John Calvelli, Executive Vice President of the organization, said that he was hopeful that further dialogue between Nigerian authorities and conservationists could lead to a mutually agreeable resolution.  (Source:  Chicago Tribune [Chicago], 12/21/16).


  • February 10, 2017 2:49 PM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)

    FON Supports Fantsuam’s Household Food Security

    by John Dada, Fantsuam Foundation Director

         In 2015, Friends of Nigeria provided $2,795 to the Fantsuam Foundation to be invested in grain storage silos. These silos were purchased and are now being put to good use to store the 2016 harvest.

         One of the Fantsuam Foundation responses to the peace building efforts for our communities is the use of the grains bank at Fantsuam to support vulnerable families, especially families that are hosting internally displaced persons and whose household food security situation has become precarious.

         The harvest for 2016 was not impressive due to the pervailing political tensions which affected both the planting and harvesting activities. The total harvest in 2016 was as follows:

              Maize = 100kg bags x 10 = NGN250,000

              Rice = 100kg bags x 12 = NGN300,000

              Soyabeans = 100kg bags x 4 = NGN100,000

              Blackeye beans = 100kg bags x 5 = NGN200,000

              Brown beans = 25Kg x 1 = NGN3,000

         The total amount invested was N846,000 (US$3,000), and the  total amount of produce realised was NGN853,000 or US$3,024.

       As the peace efforts take hold this year, we are hopeful for a more productive farming season.


    Fantsuam’s tractor prepares the farm for planting


    Members of the Women’s cooperative planting on the Fantsuam maize farm


    Paddy rice planting, Ungwa Mangoro, 2016


    Women taking the harvest of maize home

    pastedGraphic_4.png     pastedGraphic_5.png

    Women processing the beans and the rice

    pastedGraphic_6.pngGrains being bagged and transported to Fantsuam grains bank

  • February 10, 2017 2:47 PM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)

    FON Continues to Support Projects in Nigeria

    by Jim Clark (12) 64-66

         The FON board of directors has authorized the expenditure of funds in support of three ongoing projects in Nigeria. 

         For several years, FON has partnered with the Peace Corps Nigeria Alumni Fountation (PCNAF) to fund the Robert Pastor scholarship, a scholarship to fund needy students desiring to attend the American University of Nigeria (AUN). In its recent meeting, the FON board agreed to fund its share of $500. On a related note, President Greg Jones announced that Lowell Fewster (04) 62-64 has agreed to be the administrator of the scholarship replacing the late Steve Clapp.

         The board voted to send an additional $3,000 to the Fantsuam Foundation in support of the foundation’s efforts to establish and maintain a reliable food supply system in an area affected by ethnic violence. FON has, for several years, supported Fantsuam by providing funds for its construction and farming projects. (More information on Fantsuam’s work can be seen in the recent report from John Dada elsewhere in the newsletter.)

         The AUN Read and Feed program received an additional grant of $3,000 from the board in support of its work in feeding and educating those affected by Boko Haram violence. Those in attendance at the FON meeting in Washington will remember AUN President Margee Ensign’s description of the challenges faced by refugees from Boko Haram violence and the positive results of the Read and Feed program.

          All these programs are only possible as a result of the generosity of our membership. Most of member  dues and 100% of contributions are donated to these programs. FON is proud to have good, reliable partners in Nigeria who enable us to donate our funds with confidence. Keep up those donations!

  • February 10, 2017 2:44 PM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)

    Unsung Heroes

    by Chuck Ahlgren (04) 62-64

         In the fall of 1962 the Peace Corps assigned me to Bishop Shanahan College (BSC), Orlu, in the heart of Eastern Nigeria. BSC was one of several boy’s high schools in the East run by Catholic missionaries (e.g. C.I.C., Christ the King ) which enjoyed excellent academic reputations.  BSC was run by an order of teaching Brothers from Scotland, the Marists. Their religious names were Ignatius, Lewis, and Raphael.  They were bright young men with degrees from Edinburgh University---excellent teachers.  They were also keenly concerned with the welfare of their teenage students; I witnessed no racism or bigotry like that experienced and written about by Julian Martin in his nearby school (Imagonna, reviewed in the Summer, 2013 Newsletter).  

         I enjoyed the Brothers and the boys at BSC immensely. Most memorable were my 6th Form English classes, preparing the boys for their A level exams. We had many a lively classroom discussion on possible essay topics.  One that stands out is the discussion of the term ‘ethnocentrism’, a word that was to become much more significant in the boys’ lives. I also enjoyed coaching the school’s track team and going to track meets with the boys on the back of a lorry. I tried to impart to the boys some of the track techniques taught by Rafer Johnson during Peace Corps training at UCLA:  the boys largely ignored my advice, but won anyway. Particularly memorable were cricket matches with the school’s South Asian staff members, and evening strolls on paths and roads through the villages around the school.

         It was with mixed feelings, therefore, when the Peace Corps informed me I was to be transferred to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, for my second year. BSC needed a science teacher, not another English teacher, and I was replaced by Bob Coleman.   

          After finishing my Peace Corps tour in 1964 I spent three years in graduate school. I lost contact with the Brothers when the Biafran war broke out. My inquiry to the Marist headquarters in Rome was unanswered.

         With the advent of the internet, I was able to locate an address for the Marists in Glasgow. In 2009, I wrote to inquire about my three old colleagues, and received a letter back from Brother Lewis. He informed me that Bishop Shanahan closed during the war because all the older boys went off to join the Biafran army.  Lewis said that he, along with Ignatius, worked with Caritas International to distribute to starving people the food that came in nightly on the nearby Uli airstrip.  He told me that earlier in the war Brother Raphael had been taken by Federal Troops to be shot, but was saved. Raphael was not allowed to return to work in Biafra, but spent the war distributing food in the federally occupied sections of the East. Lewis and Ignatius were imprisoned at the end of the war in Port Harcourt. Thanks to the intercession of the Papal Legate in Lagos, they were released from jail and expelled as persona non grata.

         Lewis had told me only a little of his experiences during the war. Later I obtained pages from his diary about the end of the Biafran War. He talks about how the Federal Third Marine Division captured the nearby garri-growing area, so that, without food, the Biafran army collapsed and surrendered. Here is one of his entries from one of the days just after this, and a few days before Lewis was imprisoned, January 14, 1970:

         No word of what happened to Brothers Ignatius or Norbert, so----I head for B.S.C. There are about 50 babies laid out in a line, each lying on a piece of white cloth, and they are in a dreadful condition. All are skeletons, most are crying, and many are in the last stages of diarrhea, with the bright red of their insides hanging like tails out of their anuses. Norbert, alone, is going from one to another trying to powder and clean them.

    “Who are these babies?”

    “I found them abandoned by the Red Cross in a sickbay up the road.”

    “Where are your nurses?”

    “They’ve run into the bush to avoid the Feds.”

         We discussed the problem and decided it would be best to get the children down to Okporo Hospital (a pediatric hospital and  the only hospital of any kind in the areas still functioning.) I head back to the Mission and on the way call in on Chief Patrick (the Igwe, Patrick Acholonu, the paramount chief of the area) to ask him to send over some older women to help Norbert. We spend the day ferrying babies to Okparo. On the way we find some Biafran soldiers lying dead on the road. We stop and force some locals to bury them.

         In 2013 I again wrote to Brother Lewis in Glasgow. I was saddened to learn that he had died in 2012.  But I got a letter back from Brother Raphael with some news that Brother Lewis had neglected to tell me:   Raphael and Ignatius had both left the Marists after the war, counseled to do so after suffering what they describe as minor nervous breakdowns. It is not surprising that they should have done so, with all the suffering they observed and living under constant shelling and risk of death. Today we would recognize that they were suffering from PTSD. 

         Raphael and Ignatius upon leaving the Order took back their names before entering religious life, Harry Gillan and Jim Malia, respectively.  Both are retired educators. Harry is living in Dundee, looking after a wife with Alzheimer’s. Jim is living on the Isle of Wight. Moreover, Harry told me, Jim had written a book, “Biafra, the Memory of the Music”. 

         I had seen the title listed in Amazon, but the name Jim Malia meant nothing to me. I thought the book might have something to do with the group Jello Biafra. But, as soon as I knew that the book was Brother Ignatius’s, “Igs”, I sent off for it.  In addition to bringing back beautiful memories of ‘the music’ I experienced in Orlu with the Brothers, I found the book to complement wonderfully David Koren’s and John Sherman’s accounts of their roles in the relief effort. Most importantly, the book highlighted the heroic role that missionary Brothers and Priests like the BSC Marists and the legendary Des McGlade played in this first post-WWII holocaust, the Biafran War.  

         Unlike Mother Theresa these men are unsung and are unlikely ever to be canonized. But they did their church proud.

         The Memory of the Music, by Jim Malia is available from Amazon. His book also has a brief history of the times leading up to the secession of Biafra, told from the point of view of someone living in the then Eastern Region, with much fascinating personal detail.


  • February 10, 2017 2:40 PM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)

    In the Sky Far Away; A Memoir of the Biafran Airlift

    David L. Koren (09) 63-66

    First Peace Corps Writers Edition, June 19, 2016

     (Buyers should look for ISBN-13:978-1-935925-62-0 to make sure they are getting the First Peace Corps Writers Edition, June 2016, not the earlier volume.)

    346 pages, $18.85 (paperback)

    Reviewed by Roger Landrum (02) 61-63

         The Biafran war for independence from Nigeria ended 47 years ago (1970), yet the horrors that occurred before and during the civil war linger. So does the idea of Biafra: an independent African state created by Africans, not by a European colonial power drawing the boundaries, a modern state with an efficient and productive democratic government. They seem to have a life of their own. One of the reasons for this was a dramatic humanitarian air lift operated from the remote island of Sao Tome to shuttle food and medical supplies into Biafra for a civilian population being deliberately starved into submission. The air lift was organized by a hodgepodge of  church and humanitarian organizations, contracted planes and pilots, and volunteers. Some of the latter were former Peace Corps Volunteers who had served in Eastern Nigeria before the war.  The air lift operated under the direst of conditions: cast off planes flying at night to a darkened air strip constructed on an old road at Uli, Biafra, under constant attack from the Nigerian air force. There the cargoes of food and medical supplies were unloaded and distributed to the starving civilian population including millions of children, squeezed into an ever shrinking Biafra. Some of the emaciated Biafran children, near death, were shuttled out on the empty planes to Sao Tome for supervised recovery. 

         Among the colorful cast of characters operating the air lift were five UNICEF volunteers, young Americans, one of whom was David Koren, who had taught secondary school as a Peace Corps Volunteer for three years in Eastern Nigeria. Koren had not  yet settled into a career back home when the war began, and he answered a UNICEF call for volunteers, which led him to Sao Tome, the air lift operations, and into Biafra and the morass of the civil war. He did it out of a commitment to the Ibo people he had lived and worked among for three years. Then, for many years afterwards, Koren's experience lay buried as he moved on with a life in America. When Koren read Chimamanda  Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), a novel of the Biafran War, his air lift memories came pouring back. He wrote a brief reminiscence in March 2007 for the Friends of Nigeria newsletter, The World is Deep. After a number of people contacted him for more information about the air lift, he dug out a box of memorabilia and found a cache of audio cassettes from the period. One thing led to another and Koren wrote a full account of the Biafran airlift, In the Sky Far Away, first published in 2012. This review is of a 3rd edition that adds Koren's recent discovery of some of the people his work with the air lift saved from starvation and their grown children, now living in America, and his emotional meetings with them.

         Far Away in the Sky is a remarkable book. The central story of the air lift is inherently dramatic, but it is Koren's richly detailed recollections about the air lift and its motley cast of characters, both on the remote island of Sao Tome and at the Uli airstrip inside a Biafra, that gives this book exceptional power. The book encompasses more than the air lift narrative. It creates a deeply informed portrait of the Ibo people, famed for their industriousness and pursuit of education. It illuminates the wider war and why the Biafrans sought an independent homeland to secure their safety and political interests. It describes Koren's earlier Peace Corps experience in Eastern Nigeria. And the book is laced with reflections about racism, colonialism, and the power of deep cultural identity.

         I know something about all this. I was a Peace Corps teacher in the first wave of Nigeria volunteers, at Nsukka in Eastern Nigeria, living among the Ibo. Afterwards I directed Peace Corps training programs for Nigeria and was visiting some of the PCVs I trained inside Nigeria immediately after the first pogroms against Ibos in the Northern Region where I heard chilling accounts directly from Hausa northerners who, wracked with remorse, told me about murdering their Ibo neighbors in a frenzy of revenge after the first military coup led mostly by young Ibo officers. I went into Eastern Nigeria on that trip, as succession sentiments grew more intense among the Ibos, to see if my friends were safe, where I was briefly detained by Eastern police officers paranoid about regional security. The volunteers I had trained were soon evacuated from all of Nigeria as war loomed. I too answered a UNICEF ad for a  photographer to document child starvation in Biafra and flew from Amsterdam to Sao Tome on one of the Gray Ghost relief planes, stuffed in a chilly cargo area with a Netherlands film crew seeking to document the air lift. I got stuck on Sao Tome for a couple weeks seeking clearance to enter Biafra, denied because Biafran authorities resented United Nations unwillingness to recognize Biafran independence. I was able to photograph evacuated Biafran children with acute starvation effects, and had a long conversation with Chinua Achebe about Biafra. He was in transit out of Biafra as an informal ambassador to the West. I was on leave from a job and could not wait around for an uncertain clearance but I can verify the veracity of  the Sao Tome parts of Koren's account . Like many others I was left with questions about the war. Were the claims about starvation exaggerated? Were the Ibo people actually threatened with genocide and was succession from Nigeria justified? With extensive first hand facts and clear-headed observations this book provides answers.             

         Koren's narrative falls into discrete parts. The first section describe his two years as a Peace Corps teacher in Eastern Nigeria, with an extension year because he found the experience so fulfilling. As an account of Peace Corps service in Nigeria, or anywhere, it is as perceptive as you are likely to find, though not as extended as Peter Hessler's brilliant memoir, River Town, about his Peace Corps experience in China. Koren's writing about his Peace Corps years is background for his central narrative reporting on his UNICEF volunteer assignment to the Biafran air lift, initially as a warehouse organizer of incoming, expanding relief supplies while awaiting Biafran clearance to enter the secessionist state on relief flights to help unload the planes. It was a lengthy and frustrating delay because the United Nations connection annoyed the Biafran authorities (the UN refused to recognize Biafra's independence). Finally someone figured out a change in job title to "airlift ground engineers" which won Biafran clearance for the UNICEF volunteers to enter the breakaway state.  

         That is the more harrowing part of the story as conditions grew more and more dangerous from Nigerian bombing of the Uli airstrip and the inherent dangers of night landings in old planes. Pilots died from crashes, ground crews from bomb shrapnel. The airlift was functional but it was not a smooth operation with central command. Koren writes, "The Biafran Airlift was not a massive government effort, but a raggedy group of missionaries and civilians flying rickety old planes." He is completely candid about the tangles between the Biafran authorities and the air lift operations, and among the loose coalition of relief organizations and operators jockeying for position. Koren wove his way through various roles and tasks--he learned the skills of a plane mechanic to be more useful--until he was no longer needed when better planes and crews took over the air lift. One more dramatic turn enveloped Koren before he left. On his final trip into Biafra he was arrested as a possible spy, detained for several harrowing days, then released with orders not to return.  

         Following the account of his non-commercial flight home, via Brazil, the narrative jumps to some unexpected experiences after In the Sky Far Away was first published in 2012. Publication led to meeting some of those saved from starvation by the air lift now living in the US, and their grown children, most of whom knew little about what their parents had suffered. "When we were children", one said, "we heard your planes going over at night. We never knew who you were, but we got the food. Every person in this room is alive today because of what you did." They honored Koren with an Ibo honorific title, Nwannedinamba, Brother from a far away land.  Koren estimates there are a million people of Ibo descent now living in the US, a second Ibo diaspora. The first Ibo diaspora was across Nigeria before the pogroms. One of Koren's two sons has an Ibo first name, Emeka, and served in the Peace Corps in Guinea. Somehow Koren's intense, erratic Nigeria adventures came full circle later in life.The Ibo say, Uwa di egwu, the World is deep. "Those who still argue that Biafra should have surrendered early," he concludes, " do not understand the culture of a people who do not submit easily. . . . I told the story of a brave and intelligent people, a story that may have otherwise slipped away into the gloom of history." 

         Reviewer Roger Landrum is founder and first CEO of Youth Service America, which in collaboration with Ford Foundation developed the national youth service movement that led to AmeriCorps and the Corporation for Community and National Service. Landrum initiated the seminal Peace Corps 25th Anniversary celebration attended by 5,000 RPCVs which launched the National Peace Corps Association with paid staff and served as NPCA board president. He co-authored with Harris Wofford Youth and the Needs of the Nation (1979), a blueprint for expanded national service programming. 

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