"Africans in U.S.are losing our kids
to American culture"
&endash;Mrs. D.CEjindu

On marriage and divorce among Africans/Nigerians, she toldUSAfrica The Newspaper "what Africans need to know is thatduring my time (in the 1950s and 1960s) marriage was planned betweenparents and families. This time, our problem is that our sons anddaughters meet someone in the U.S or elsewhere, we don't know theirbackground. The courtship may just take one week or 2 months or 6months and boom.. it's wedding day. We need to know how their familybehaves. During our time we knew who's who and this eliminated someof the problems of clashing values." She notes "Don't get me wrong; Ido believe that love matters. In fact, some say that "I'm madly inlove'; sometimes it's just infatuation. In our time, the marriage andthe love grow together...."

Mrs.Dorothy Chukwunedum Ejindu is an embodiment of the traditional valuesand conservative lifestyles of the quintessential African woman,particularly, those of the Igbos of South Eastern Nigeria. Atcommunity events, she is ushered in by group of women as befittingfor a princess. Born on April, 1930 to a Christian family (GodsonObidinnu and Margaret Ucheime Nwokoye) in Obosi in Anambra State ofNigeria told USAfrica The Newspaper and USAfricaonline.comduring an exclusive interview that "our own culture is very, verygood. We've good family values. We value our families and we shouldappreciate that fact."

She notes also that there are lessons "Africanscan take from our American hosts." Yet, she's quick to underline herbelief that "our brothers and sisters of the African Americancommunity will benefit more from us because somehow they lost thetrend of their roots from such historical situations as the slavetrade." Mrs. Ejindu, founder of the Star Lady/Star MotherOrganization of Nigeria, says the reality of such events anddeprivations compels the need for more interaction. She says "that'spart of why I like USAfrica The Newspaper so much for creating theforum for such interaction and sharing of views."

She argues that most of thingsAfrican-Americans need to know can be achieved through moreinteraction. Her first daughter, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwankwo (married toauthor Prof. Nkem Nwankwo) trained at San Diego State University, andat Ohio State for a masters degree in public administration andcommunity development was present during my interview with Mrs.Ejindu. Mrs. Nwankwo notes that "she's a great mother; sheenlightened and inspired me that I can be a good house-wife, aprofessional woman and have the fear of God. She's mymentor."

Mrs. Ejindu, a widow with seven children (sixof whom are in the U.S.), is former national president of the ObosiDevelopment Union (Women wing) and Life Matron of the Boys and Girls'Brigade (26th company.

Ejindu, an admirer and supporter of U.S.President Bill Clinton expresses displeasure at what she calls "alargely American and apparent attitude of each to oneself, and Godfor us all. I'll like them to emulate the way we treat our elders,especially the senior citizens. No matter what, we cannot send ourparents to a nursing home. No matter what our schedule, instead ofsending them to such homes, we'll make major sacrifices. Forinstance, I stay with my children here in the U.S."

On the capacity of African/Nigerian childrenborn here in the U.S. to speak their parents' language, Ejindu isfrank, as usual: "Our children are illiterate in their parentslanguages. There's a big danger in that. When you've a group ofpeople, you don't have any private way to confide in your kidsbecause you have just that common language (English). If we do notwatch it, in the next 30 years, our children born here in the U.Swill be lost to the American culture. Most of the children that I'veseen when you take them back home, they don't fit in at all. We needto change that." Madam Ejindu has visited Britain, Canada, Coted'Ivoire, Israel, Ghana and the U.S.

Mrs. Bettye Woods, her instructor at thecollege described her as "a student (who has) "been a fresh breadthof air and a beacon of light. Her deep wisdom, charitable spirit,inspirational thoughts, and diligence in her studies have enhancedthe lives of her classmates and mine." Mrs. Ejindu describes herselfas "a symbol of justice which is the supreme guarantee of goodgovernment."

On marriage and divorce amongAfricans/Nigerians, she told USAfrica The Newspaper "whatAfricans need to know is that during my time (in the 1950s and 1960s)marriage was planned between parents and families. This time, ourproblem is that our sons and daughters meet someone in the U.S orelsewhere, we don't know their background. The courtship may justtake one week or 2 months or 6 months and boom.. it's wedding day. Weneed to know how their family behaves. During our time we knew who'swho and this eliminated some of the problems of clashing values." Shenotes "Don't get me wrong; I do believe that love matters. In fact,some say that "I'm madly in love'; sometimes it's just infatuation.In our time, the marriage and the love grow together...."

Madam Ejindu's hobbies include photography,drama, opera and music. Education is important but sometimes itbreeds intolerance and everyone fights for their so-called "rights.'In my own area, Obosi, the first daughter is usually not marriedoutside the town of her parents. She said same in her rich Igbolanguage "Ada adi eje mba."

She recalls that "I married very early, and Iwas only able ( she smiles and says) many won't believe this... Ipassed only my elementary school education, at the time." You couldnot tell when she speaks or champions any community goals. She is arecipient of the USAfrica Community Leadership award, in 1999.

"I decided to go back to school at NorthCarolina Gillford Technical community college to study English. I'mdoing alright with it. I am doing the studies for knowledge, pleasureand to increase my vocabulary." she adds laughing. "What motivated mewas the fact that I became a successful businesswoman, in my time andplace, and I related with a lot people. Hence, I needed to improve mysocial and speaking skills."

Such associations, she remembers, opened manydoors where she's also served as patron and matron and as "the firstwoman lay reader in my church in Obosi, on July 1, 1973." Heradditional message for youths and adults is that "you should notethat whatever one learns no one can take away from you."

Without a doubt, Mrs. Ejindu, fondly known as"Anu Eyi Agu" is a unique woman among many; an inspirer of thousandsof African women and indeed men, a political activist, businesswoman,relentless community builder and mother to many.

Interview and reporting by Chido Nwangwu© USAfricaDigital Media Networks, Houston

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