{poem} Missing My Dad

By Odimegwu Onwumere

My Precious Father: Ichie L.M Onwumere

I didn’t know much

the importance of having a Dad

till these two years and,

of not being with one.

The bird in the hand

is often not cherished, adored,

till she escapes into the air.

Who can fly?

Many things we do not cherish today,

we regret when they are gone

tommorrow.

I don’t only miss my Dad;

some parts of me died

with his passing

(c) Oct. 18 2017; Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant.

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Please, Add A Dollar To Change The Cause Of Our Journalism Project

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Our purpose of contacting you is that we are scheduling to host Journalism Contests for journalists in Nigeria who are covering subjects that relate to Climate Change, Health and Agriculture, inter alia. These issues need proper media coverage they have not been immensely garnering in the country owing to their global concerns. Hence, it’s our gusto to add in raising awareness on these issues especially in Nigeria where journalism needs a serious help. Please, click and view our proposal and donation: http://www.gofundafrica.com/campaign/19-events/22-journalism-initiative-sponsorship-request-letter

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Odimegwu Onwumere,
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Tel: +2348032552855.
Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

Meet Your ‘Spirit Guide’ For Answers To Your Questions

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: There is a contemporary music I like so much. Not because of where it is used or how people sing it, but because I hear the music when crooned beyond the mundane. It is, “I can see everything turning around, everything turning around, for my good.” Yes. Everything is turning around for my good. But have you asked yourself why you are so rich or so poor? I’ve come to realise that every situation has both physical and spiritual lessons it is coordinated to teach us. You can understand every situation in your life only when you befriend your intuition and abreast your Inner Radiance. Some persons had, as a result of ignorance, hounded away these nature-given accomplishments in their lives due to what they were taught to believe their Inner Knowing was. They see their Inner Knowing as Demon or Devil. Many are even battling with their Spirit Guides to leave them when they are supposed to welcome them for the revelation of Truth and Greatness. To these persons, they conduct deliverance upon deliverance, yet what has been crying continues to cry. However, some persons come to this world with Great Powers, while some persons appeal for the powers to manifest in their lives. These Guides or Guards are around us and like every other relationship, when you put much effort in knowing and understanding them, they reveal themselves and manifest for your own good. They will then be leading you along the path of life. Whenever you want to voyage into an adventure, they’ll lead you for the oriented results. Some call these Spirit Guides “Guardian Angel”. Whatever! They do not manifest or lead the individual through devotion; there are certain natural things the individual has to do and observe for his or her Spirit Guide(s) to manifest. I will end this discourse here, leaving you with puzzlement and ponder, hoping that everything will turn around for your good.

-Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant. Tel: +2348057778358.

Selective Laws against Nigerian Women Reproductive Rights

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Stephen Luka and Justina Dusu have been locked in a romantic bliss for years. They have always been on top of their affair. Many who have been watching them, felt they were destined for each other. But, that was not to be. The real test of their love affair came when Justina missed her period. That development did not go down well with Stephen. He was not the Romeo watchers thought him to be. He felt terribly bad since Justina broke the news of her pregnancy to him.

Apparently not ready to father a child yet, he pushed for abortion. But unsafe abortion is outlawed in Nigeria. For Elizabeth Dwyer of Women & Girls Hub, a group concerned about the plight of women, “Nigeria’s abortion law is based on the same 1861 Offences Against Persons Act that governs Northern Ireland’s rules.”

Last February, at a Jos High Court, Stephen’s lover-girl who resides at Foron, in Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, literally shocked the world when she alleged that the lover-boy killed her sister for refusing to undergo an unsafe abortion.

That has been the tragedy of many young women across the country. And according to Dwyer, “Each year, Nigerian women undergo 1.25 million abortions, with nearly all performed clandestinely, resulting in 500,000 health complications.

“Restrictive abortion legislation bans the procedure except when prescribed by a doctor to save a woman’s life – in a country that has such low contraceptive access, only 10 per cent of married women use birth control.”

Over the years, connoisseurs have been claiming that unsafe abortion has become one of the major factors that cause maternal deaths in Nigeria. They have, therefore, been agitating for the individualisation of family planning (FP) services in the country that prides itself as the giant of Africa.

Those who know better say unsafe abortion causes irremediable damage to the women. In Nigeria, many are of the view that it is an act of infringing on women’s reproductive rights since abortion is technically not legal in the country.

In search of a way out of the reproductive gender gap in the country, on August 17, 1991, Campaign Against Unwanted Pregnancy (CAUP) was launched. It is a multi-disciplinary initiative focusing attention on the health problems of women caused by unsafe abortion in Nigeria.

Since then, the political environment in Nigeria has been a complex and volatile one, with strong religious and ethnic tensions and a very conservative public attitude towards abortion. For instance, Post Abortion Care (PAC), a group concerned with women’s reproductive right in the country, says it’s so bad that reproductive rights of women are not respected in the country. Reproductive rights activists have been warning against what they described as ‘’archaic laws’’ on abortion in Nigeria.

Often, health agencies talking about unsafe abortions, are accused of operating measures to promote unwholesome behaviour in the country. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was caught up in a hullabaloo of orchestrating promotional abortion movement for young ladies who were liberated from Boko Haram, some two years ago.

It was reported that Nigeria was not support of abortion. Many sensitisation campaigns have been held in this regard, but the authorities have not deemed it wise and right to make abortion a legal issue. In October 2015, media men were trained on “Women’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights” for three days in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

Hauwa Shekarau, a lawyer, says the training workshop was aimed at enlightening people on sexual and reproductive health and rights of women. “The abortion law in Nigeria is restrictive and it is only permitted to save the life of the woman if she is in a danger. But those that do not fall under this legal restriction are left to their own devices.

“Also, the cost of carrying out this procedure is high, and those who are not economically empowered resort to quacks, making unsafe abortion the most silent and persistent cause of maternal mortality in Nigeria,’’ she says.

A consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the University Teaching Hospital, Gwagwlada, Dr. Godwin Akaba said at a public presentation, “lack of family planning tools is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality, as it results into unintended pregnancy, which could lead to unsafe abortion.

“The magnitude of maternal mortality and morbidity represents perhaps the greater social injustice of our time. Our ability to address these preventable causes of maternal mortality is but a symptom, a tragic symptom of a larger social injustice of discrimination.”

Dr. Ejike Orji of Association for Advancement of Family Planning, (AAFP), sufficed to what Dr. Akaba added, “Unsafe abortion is dangerous with such resultant effects like ‘bleeding, infections and infertility’ in most cases.”

Since September 2015, the UN has bared its stance, saying that Nigeria should rescind her abortion laws because it’s part of setbacks in furthering abortion and sexual rights for adolescents in Africa.

“The UNFPA told Nigeria to take back its reservations on “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” in a new UN development agreement,” said a UN report. It is hoped by opinion leaders that the authorities should see abortion beyond the scope of religion, politics and culture.

For them, “advocacy efforts need to address not only visible power, i.e. the making and enforcing of formal laws and regulations, structures, authorities, institutions and the procedures of decision-making, but also how and by whom the agenda is set.

“The latter includes the ways in which powerful people and institutions maintain their influence, by controlling access to decision-making and excluding and devaluing the concerns and representation of less powerful groups.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet and Writer based in Rivers State. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Media Violence Against Women

In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that there is a new form of violence against women through the media and calls on the general public to respect the right to dignity of the human person

Violence against women is gradually assuming a new form through the media. As the watchdog of the society, the media which have been playing a role in sensitizing the wide-ranging masses on the need to stop the violence against women, are at the same time meting out enormous treaties of violence against women through publishing pictures of the raped or battered women and other contraventions of privacy of women, knowing how sensational they are.

{senator Aisha Alhassan; Minister, Women Affairs And Social Development}
{senator Aisha Alhassan; Minister, Women Affairs And Social Development}

On September 28 2006 an Amy Jussel, a public affairs commentator published an article with the title – Media has a role to play in curbing violence against girls. In that treatise, the irked Jussel admonished as a matter of urgency that the media have to stop “glamorizing, romanticizing and sexualizing content under the auspices of violence prevention!”

Online Violence

Researcher A. N Nwammuo, writing on – Social Media and Perpetuation of Violence against Women in Nigeria: The Case of Facing Death on Facebook – said that clowns and criminals have invaded the internet and the World Wide Web negatively, causing problematic pains to the women world.

“Social media forms, due to their high interactivity, are used to perpetuate violence against women… The case of Cynthia Osukogu provides basis for this assertion,” said A.N Nwammuo.

Jussel went further, “We need to recognize that mass media is critical in communicating a responsible voice to curb violence against girls and women. As it is, hyper-sexualized environs have created a minefield that even young K-5 elementary girls are faced with dodging daily.”

One Kamala Sarup, writing on the topic – Violence Against Women And Role Of Media (Thursday, 13 January 2005) – commended some journalists, but added, “Although some in the media are to be commended for their ongoing efforts to reflect sensitive, diverse, and egalitarian images, others in the media still incorporate images that convey destructive messages. Still women’s bodies are used as objects to sell products.”

Lack Of Privacy, Security and Safety

Over the years, violence against women has taken novel forms. There have been videos of abused ladies posted online or through other means of technology. Many women have been killed through contacts they made online while using the internet or phones.

On 19 November 2010, Inter Press Service (IPS), South Africa, reported, “As more and more women go online using computers and mobile phones, many are silenced through acts of violence, sexism and censorship.

“In most cases women do not know what to do to protect themselves against such violations. Nor are there adequate measures adopted by telecommunications companies, internet service providers and software developers to protect users’ privacy, security and safety.”

Nwammuo intoned, “Violence against women through facebook manifests in many forms ranging from the use of words, photographs and physical injury resulting to the death of many women… Such violence has led to emotional, psychological and physical torture of Nigerian women.”

The IPS source said that in their bid to look into gender based violence, ICTs and the role of media, Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women and Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa hosted a media discussion on November 17 2010, tagged – Click Against Violence: Taking 16 Days of Activism Online.

“Both ICT and VAW affect our capacity to completely enjoy our human rights and fundamental freedoms. Women and girls are increasingly experiencing violence when using the internet and mobile phones,” said Jan Moolman from APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) who spoke about ‘Protecting Women’s Rights Online’.

Further, Jan Moolman, said, “Acts of violence against women in the real world are replicated online, including cyber stalking, cyber bullying, surveillance and other acts that violate women’s safety and privacy. ICTs are changing the ways in which women experience and respond to violence.”

Politicized Violence

According to the source, “Pratyoush Onta stated in his report: The mainstream media is very much politicized and it picks up women issues according to the political interest of patron political parties.

“Due to the lack of resources and trained work force, the media is not capable to produce widely impressive materials. Some of the women issues like trafficking, prostitution and rape come in the media just to create sensation. The media seem to be less concerned about women’s issues and rights.”

Defining Violence Against Women

But defining violence against women, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said, “Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.

“Some groups of women, such as belonging to minority groups, indigenous women, refugee women, migrant women, women living in rural or remote communities, destitute women, women in institutions or in detention, female children, disabled women, elderly women and women in situations of armed conflict, are especially vulnerable to violence.”

Mrs. Josephine Effa Chukwuma, the Executive Director of Project Alert on Violence Against Women, a Lagos-based organisation which is about 12 years old, said early this year that violence against women is a human rights abuse.

Mrs. Effa wasn’t just mouthing, she proved that she knew what she was talking about, being a specialist of English and Literary Studies, with a Master’s degree in Development Studies obtained from The Netherlands in 1992, and concentrating on women and development and then International Law and Social Justice.

Sensitizing Society

On November 29 2016, the Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprise, ENGINE, a non-governmental organisation, NGO, hyped its initiative dubbed “Walk of a 1000 Men”, as part of measures to sensitize the society against some incongruous attitudes that women are treated with in the world and called for a stop to any forms of violence against women.

The Chairperson of ENGINE, Mrs. Amina Salihu was worried, saying that the scheme was bent on addressing the causative factors of gender based aggression that often result to corporal, sexual, psychosomatic, unwritten harm or torment to women and girls. Mrs. Effa said that when a woman is being beaten by her husband or kicked around, that is torture!

“And, Chapter 4, of the Constitution governing the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which focuses on fundamental human rights says, “Every Nigerian, man, woman or child, has a right to dignity of the human person, freedom from torture, etc.,” she said.

In another vein, Lakshmi Puri, an international figure at the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly, 19 June 2013, said, “When one in three girls in developing countries is likely to be married as a child bride; when some 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation; when millions of women and girls are trafficked in modern-day slavery; and when women’s bodies are a battleground and rape is used as a tactic of war – it is time for action.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Media Violence Against Women

In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that there is a new form of violence against women through the media and calls on the general public to respect the right to dignity of the human person

Violence against women is gradually assuming a new form through the media. As the watchdog of the society, the media which have been playing a role in sensitizing the wide-ranging masses on the need to stop the violence against women, are at the same time meting out enormous treaties of violence against women through publishing pictures of the raped or battered women and other contraventions of privacy of women, knowing how sensational they are.

{senator Aisha Alhassan; Minister, Women Affairs And Social Development}
{senator Aisha Alhassan; Minister, Women Affairs And Social Development}

On September 28 2006 an Amy Jussel, a public affairs commentator published an article with the title – Media has a role to play in curbing violence against girls. In that treatise, the irked Jussel admonished as a matter of urgency that the media have to stop “glamorizing, romanticizing and sexualizing content under the auspices of violence prevention!”

Online Violence

Researcher A. N Nwammuo, writing on – Social Media and Perpetuation of Violence against Women in Nigeria: The Case of Facing Death on Facebook – said that clowns and criminals have invaded the internet and the World Wide Web negatively, causing problematic pains to the women world.

“Social media forms, due to their high interactivity, are used to perpetuate violence against women… The case of Cynthia Osukogu provides basis for this assertion,” said A.N Nwammuo.

Jussel went further, “We need to recognize that mass media is critical in communicating a responsible voice to curb violence against girls and women. As it is, hyper-sexualized environs have created a minefield that even young K-5 elementary girls are faced with dodging daily.”

One Kamala Sarup, writing on the topic – Violence Against Women And Role Of Media (Thursday, 13 January 2005) – commended some journalists, but added, “Although some in the media are to be commended for their ongoing efforts to reflect sensitive, diverse, and egalitarian images, others in the media still incorporate images that convey destructive messages. Still women’s bodies are used as objects to sell products.”

Lack Of Privacy, Security and Safety

Over the years, violence against women has taken novel forms. There have been videos of abused ladies posted online or through other means of technology. Many women have been killed through contacts they made online while using the internet or phones.

On 19 November 2010, Inter Press Service (IPS), South Africa, reported, “As more and more women go online using computers and mobile phones, many are silenced through acts of violence, sexism and censorship.

“In most cases women do not know what to do to protect themselves against such violations. Nor are there adequate measures adopted by telecommunications companies, internet service providers and software developers to protect users’ privacy, security and safety.”

Nwammuo intoned, “Violence against women through facebook manifests in many forms ranging from the use of words, photographs and physical injury resulting to the death of many women… Such violence has led to emotional, psychological and physical torture of Nigerian women.”

The IPS source said that in their bid to look into gender based violence, ICTs and the role of media, Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women and Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa hosted a media discussion on November 17 2010, tagged – Click Against Violence: Taking 16 Days of Activism Online.

“Both ICT and VAW affect our capacity to completely enjoy our human rights and fundamental freedoms. Women and girls are increasingly experiencing violence when using the internet and mobile phones,” said Jan Moolman from APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) who spoke about ‘Protecting Women’s Rights Online’.

Further, Jan Moolman, said, “Acts of violence against women in the real world are replicated online, including cyber stalking, cyber bullying, surveillance and other acts that violate women’s safety and privacy. ICTs are changing the ways in which women experience and respond to violence.”

Politicized Violence

According to the source, “Pratyoush Onta stated in his report: The mainstream media is very much politicized and it picks up women issues according to the political interest of patron political parties.

“Due to the lack of resources and trained work force, the media is not capable to produce widely impressive materials. Some of the women issues like trafficking, prostitution and rape come in the media just to create sensation. The media seem to be less concerned about women’s issues and rights.”

Defining Violence Against Women

But defining violence against women, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said, “Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.

“Some groups of women, such as belonging to minority groups, indigenous women, refugee women, migrant women, women living in rural or remote communities, destitute women, women in institutions or in detention, female children, disabled women, elderly women and women in situations of armed conflict, are especially vulnerable to violence.”

Mrs. Josephine Effa Chukwuma, the Executive Director of Project Alert on Violence Against Women, a Lagos-based organisation which is about 12 years old, said early this year that violence against women is a human rights abuse.

Mrs. Effa wasn’t just mouthing, she proved that she knew what she was talking about, being a specialist of English and Literary Studies, with a Master’s degree in Development Studies obtained from The Netherlands in 1992, and concentrating on women and development and then International Law and Social Justice.

Sensitizing Society

On November 29 2016, the Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprise, ENGINE, a non-governmental organisation, NGO, hyped its initiative dubbed “Walk of a 1000 Men”, as part of measures to sensitize the society against some incongruous attitudes that women are treated with in the world and called for a stop to any forms of violence against women.

The Chairperson of ENGINE, Mrs. Amina Salihu was worried, saying that the scheme was bent on addressing the causative factors of gender based aggression that often result to corporal, sexual, psychosomatic, unwritten harm or torment to women and girls. Mrs. Effa said that when a woman is being beaten by her husband or kicked around, that is torture!

“And, Chapter 4, of the Constitution governing the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which focuses on fundamental human rights says, “Every Nigerian, man, woman or child, has a right to dignity of the human person, freedom from torture, etc.,” she said.

In another vein, Lakshmi Puri, an international figure at the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly, 19 June 2013, said, “When one in three girls in developing countries is likely to be married as a child bride; when some 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation; when millions of women and girls are trafficked in modern-day slavery; and when women’s bodies are a battleground and rape is used as a tactic of war – it is time for action.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

My Tears For Fidel Castro

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: You were one of my mentors without us having any bodily contact. You put my mental horizon in flames with your numerous speech and I went gaga searching for a place I could occupy in the world just as you did in the course of liberating Cuba from the grip of Western influence. Oh! What has a beginning must have an end. But I’m graciously happy you did not end the way the USA wanted you to end, after she made 50 failed attempts to rip off your life. How I wish there would be you somewhere to let me tap into the secret of how you escaped the dastardly assassination plots.

{Fidel Castro}
{Fidel Castro}

Pa Fidel Castro, you ended very well at a ripe age. You passed this world and did not go unnoticed. May such be my fate. I will be missing you. But let me take solace in one of your famous treatises, “History will consume me”. Indeed, your history will never die like the phoenix. Bye, Bye, the once strong man of Cuba.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Consultant based in Rivers State.