Author Catherine Onyemelukwe on "Breaking Kola"

Thursday, Mar 7, 2019 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Westport author Catherine Onyemelukwe speaks about her new book, Breaking Kola: An Inside View of African Customs. This sign of hospitality, respect and community in Igbo culture, has become a familiar and beloved ceremony for Catherine. In her intriguing stories about her Nigerian in-laws, other clan members and her husband in his younger days, she explores this and other customs that create the indissoluble bond that ties people together in an African setting. She contrasts this sense of community to the individualism experienced by people in the West. With her vivid descriptions of Igbo names and religious beliefs, she adds to the readers’ understanding of an African society. 

Location: The Westport Woman's Club, 44 Imperial Avenue

As a part of the presentation, two Igbo chiefs, Ichie (Chief) Paulinus Odigbo and Chief Sir Chukwudi Dikko, will share with us the ceremony of breaking kola, an essential part of welcoming visitors to one’s home or event. Chief Sir Chukwudi Dikko says, “The kola nut enjoys a spiritual symbolism among Igbo people. It is said that the kola nut does not speak or understand any other language except Igbo. It is believed that he who brings kola brings life, and all who partake in the breaking and eating share life, blessings and community.” Audience members will be given a kola nut to take home. There will be other small Nigerian snacks as well.

Catherine Onyemelukwe is the author of the memoir Nigeria Revisited, My Life and Loves Abroad. She writes about her twenty-four years in Nigeria, starting as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1962 and returning to the United States in 1986. The memoir reflects on her experiences during those years as she changed from an idealistic though naïve Peace Corps volunteer to an experienced educator, parent and entrepreneur. 

Chief Sir Chukwudi Dikko is President and CEO Dikko Associates and Dikko Financial Group in Fairfield. He is also a writer and commentator on political economy and finance, and Founder, Rescue Alliance for Connecticut (REACT). He is a Red Cap chief and a Knight of St. Christopher, an Anglican lay organization. He is married and father of three children. He is from Okwelle Town in Imo State, Nigeria and has lived in Connecticut for 30 years.

Ichie (Chief) Paulinus Odigbo is a licensed alcohol and drug Counselor, currently working for the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. He is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport and received his Doctor of Education (Ed. D.) in Educational Leadership and Administration in 2006. Odigbo is from Ihiala in Anambra State and has been in the US for 25 years. He is married and has four children.

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