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Now this is how you do a study abroad program. If the summer between her first and second year of medical school is indeed the last summer she’ll ever have off in her life, Erica Ogwumike might have found the most interesting way to spend it. She’s playing basketball in the Olympics.

Her hoop dreams on pause during the pandemic, Ogwumike decided to attend medical school at UT Southwestern in Dallas while continuing to train for the Olympics. And Tuesday, she made it. Ogwumike played four minutes in an 81-72 loss to the U.S. women’s team before heading back to the Olympic Village for more flash card drills and medical research projects. “The hardest thing is probably just, you know, making sure you know that school comes first regardless,” she said. Even in the Olympics. The moment is sweet, but it could’ve been sweeter for the youngest of one of America’s most prolific basketball families with four children of Nigerian-born parents finding success on and off the court.

Two of her older sisters, Nneka and Chiney, play for the Los Angeles Sparks. Another, Olivia, has an MBA and is chasing a doctorate in public policy. All four girls played Division 1 basketball. The story could’ve been even better, but controversy kept Ogwumike from enjoying these Games with Nneka and Chiney. After Nneka failed to make the U.S. women’s team — they cited a knee injury but whispers of politics within the organization persist — she attempted to join Erica on the Nigerian national team. FIBA, basketball’s governing body, denied the request citing Nneka’s experience on the American national team throughout her career. Chiney was allowed to play for Nigeria as a “naturalized” citizen but declined.

Erica Ogwumike and sister Chiney Ogwumike smile on the court while Chiney has her arm around Erica's neck

Erica Ogwumike, left, and sister Chiney Ogwumike


Following the U.S. women’s victory on Tuesday, American star Diana Taurasi said she wasn’t keen on seeing Nneka in a Nigerian jersey because “I've seen her wear the USA jersey a lot.” Taurasi, who has an Argentine mother, then quipped that she would like to someday play soccer for her mother’s country. Erica Ogwumike, left, and sister Chiney Ogwumike smile on the court after an exhibition game against the United States on July 18. U.S. coach Dawn Staley said the Olympics would be better with as many of the sport’s best players competing as possible. And Nneka Ogwumike, a former WNBA MVP and multi-time All-Star, would certainly qualify. “How you accomplish that is the difficult part,” Staley said. “Would it have been fun to play against all the Ogwumikes? Absolutely. But that didn't happen. We're left with wondering. But I'm sure they'll find a way on the court to represent Nigeria as they aspire to.”

The hope is all three Ogwumikes compete together in future international competitions pending Nneka’s appeal. “I'm very confident that I'll be able to play with them in the future. I definitely wanted to experience this with them,” Erica said. “Being first the Olympian in my family... it was supposed to be Nneka. We know that. “But I'm very fortunate that I can be here and represent my whole family. And they're really supportive of me.” Erica, 23, was incredibly close to joining her older sisters in the WNBA, selected in the third round of the 2020 draft and traded to Minnesota. But with no training camps due to the pandemic, she was eventually waived. Overseas play was an option, but so was her future career. And she picked medical school.

She chronicled her journey, balancing the pre-sunrise workouts with the course load on her YouTube vlog. After studying, she’d get to a gym for a basketball specific workout before diving back into her studying. Even in Japan, she’s spending time with “Anki” — a software flash card program popular among medical students. She’s unsure which field she’ll ultimately pursue, though dermatology is a strong candidate. She’s kept her word to herself, not letting basketball get in the way of school. She left one training camp practice earlier this year because of a cardiology lecture. She missed an entire day of training because of commitments to a hematology class.
The flash cards, the lectures, the notes, the Zoom calls, the tired eyes and the sisters back home — it all has hit her throughout these Games. That’s her foundation.
It comes everywhere with her.

“It’s hard not to think retrospectively, like everything that I've gone through, everything that I missed, just to get those moments, you know, all the work that I love,” Erica Ogwumike said. “And so whenever you have these amazing moments, the opening ceremony, different big events and things you can sit back like, 'Wow, you know, I did that.’ “I'm really proud of myself to get to this moment.”


credit - Los Angles Times

Friday, 23 July 2021 15:29

Obi Cubana and the Oba Burial

..... something happened last week, in Oba, Anambra State, Nigeria: the funeral of the mother of a man popularly known as Obi Cubana, which would seem to be a metaphor for the collapse of values in Nigeria generally, the effect of poverty – spiritual, mental and physical – and how that pushes the people to desperate ends. The burial of Cubana’s mum may be seen as a form of celebration, she died at 75, but it was a lavish send-forth that was terribly obscene. The town of Oba has certainly never witnessed anything like that. Not even in the entire Anambra state has anyone organised anything so loud and extravagant.

This was not a celebration of life. It was a celebration of Money. Obi Cubana’s mother died in November 2020. It took him more than seven months to plan the burial and when he decided that it was time for the dead to be sent forth, his obvious intention was to organise the mother of all burials, such that even the living would envy the dead and wish to die. The only problem is that not many Nigerians would rather die knowing that it is not every one that would ever get that kind of burial.

Oba is ordinarily a quiet town of nine villages, located between the commercial town of Onitsha and the industrial town of Nnewi. During the civil war, it was the last frontier of the Biafran Army. But that community will now be remembered for a long time, for the burial of the mother of a certain Obi Cubana. The role played by the social media, and by Cubana’s friends is remarkable: how a country lost its moral centre and has produced a generation of new Nigerians who worship money, ego, kudi. The excitement generated among young Nigerians who could not make it to Oba but who followed the event on social media and became excited, is a measure of the extent of the crisis that Nigeria faces.

By Friday, the spectacle had begun to unfold. Social media managers of the burial who apparently had been engaged to do so – they are called influencers – told us and showed pictures, about the Obi Cubana Festival of Money. The first of the videos that I saw was that of a young man throwing Naira notes around, on the streets as if he was distributing candies to children. The notes were in packs, crisp new notes, and as each bundle was thrown at the crowd, people fell over themselves and rushed to pick up pieces. This was like a John the Baptist display. Many of Cubana’s friends and guests would soon arrive, and before they did, many of them posted on Instagram, the stacks of money they were going to spend.

Cartons of Naira notes. In one post, a group of women were shown swimming in a pool, others were hanging around, scantily dressed, all looking like they had adjusted their biological features. That is now standard practice among a category of Nigerian women. They do a breast job, acquire a surgical, traffic-stopping butt, and they all look alike, fully bleached to their knuckles, with fake hair, strange eyelashes that protrude like pins, and of course foreign accents that have a combination of every dialect from Wales to mid-West America.

The boys by the pool threw money into the water and the girls scrambled to grab their share of the offering. This was the pattern throughout the burial. Naira notes, sorry bundles of Naira, were thrown about, sprayed, pasted so recklessly you would think this was a future Olympics Game, in which the athletes were preparing for a Gold Medal. Obi Cubana himself was at the centre of it all. One lady, simply identified as Livy was shown in one video throwing so many bales of money at Cubana that he exclaimed that he would need a Chest X-Ray! The way money was being thrown like pieces of cement blocks, I also thought that an ambulance should have been on standby. “Killed by money at Cubana’s mother’s burial” would have been an appropriate headline in the circumstance. The public was later informed that Obi Cubana got about 300 million Naira as contributions by his friends to bury his mother. He also received over 100 rams, and 400 cows, 46 out of that was supplied by one guy called Cubana Priest who not only announced the donation but also said that was just a tip of the iceberg.

Cubana himself did not disappoint. He wore a diamond pendant that was valued at N50 million. His mother’s casket, specially imported from wherever was said to have been about N40 million. This celebration of money was so unbelievable, the burial became a matter for social media punditry and the creation of emojis. Some people said it was certain Obi Cubana’s mother was already in Heaven as a saint, sitting on the right-hand side of the Almighty. Nobody has been to Heaven to confirm that, so we have no proof. Others said with the volume of money spent at the funeral, the Nigerian government should henceforth approach Obi Cubana for a loan and stop disturbing China, IMF and the World Bank. Other observers were worried about the source of the money that was being thrown around like confetti. Nigerian banks would also readily tell you that they don’t have new notes. They give out dirty notes to their customers. But there were more crisp, mint notes in circulation at Oba over the weekend than in the entire Nigerian banking system. And the notes were abused.

The Central Bank Act of Nigeria – Sections 5, 21 (4-5) prescribe penalties for the abuse of the country ‘s national currency. The law forbids the sale, purchase, and the plunking of the Naira, and prescribes penalties: six months imprisonment or a fine of N50, 000 or both. The penalties are so light, I don’t think they mean anything to Cubana and his friends or their likes. And why should that bother them anyway when the Oba funeral was attended by the same law enforcement officers who should know that it is an offence to abuse the Naira (truth is: policemen joined others to collect the notes that dropped on the floor), and there were lawmakers and prominent politicians in attendance too. In fact, nobody should be surprised if Cubana ends up as a Governor or Senator tomorrow. He has effectively used his mother’s burial to prove a point: that he has cash and the courage to spend it. Nigerians worship money. And that was why throughout the weekend: the popular saying was: who no dey Oba, na wahala him get?

Women were turned into objects and debased. Whoever had not seen his girlfriend or wife was advised to go to Oba in Anambra State. And there was a particular video of one lady who collected up to three big bags of money, by just picking money from the floor like a mendicant! Nollywood stars fell over themselves to be seen and heard. One respected actor even got so carried away he began to act like an Area Boy on Instagram. I won’t mention his name because he is a man I like very much. Money is a Devil in Nigeria. It turns even the most enlightened into clowns.

At Obi Cubana’s mother’s burial, so-called celebrities, some of these characters who describe themselves as brands (whatever that means!) became ushers, bodyguards, “all-right-sirs” and videographers. Obi Cubana has every right to bury his mother the way he wants. But who is he? How did he make his money? How much tax does he pay to the Nigerian government? The Oba burial is over now, but the only thing anybody will remember is the Bacchanal orgy of money. I am not sure half of the people at the event even know who Cubana’s mother was. What kind of person was she? How did she relate within the community? Did she even ever see, handle, spend, a bundle of crisp Naira notes in her lifetime? Who are Obi Cubana’s family members? Does he even have siblings or extended family members? They were all blanked out! Members of the Oba community were advertised as crumb eaters. They struggled to grab the Naira notes that were thrown into the air. They stared at the money-miss-road invaders from a distance. When it was all over and the waka-come-Cubana crowd left, they struggled over the left-over crumbs of cow-meat barbecue. They were effectively reminded of their poverty.

Obi Cubana would probably not visit that community again until he needs to organise another show-off. Would it not have been better if he built a hospital in his mother’s memory? Or a school? Or a church? And then the people will remember her, and not how her son and his friends put money to shame at her funeral. And who are these friends? The kind of names that have been mentioned sound unfamiliar to me: E-Money, Internet Money, Pablo Cubana, Escoba, Jowizaza, Livy, Cubana Priest. Is the Nigerian Immigration Service, in charge of aliens and expatriates, the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in charge of National Identity Registration and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in charge of Homeland Security, aware of the presence of these people inside Nigeria? Who are they? And why do they spend money like that? Not even Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet will throw money around like that!

The burial of Otunba Mike Adenuga’s mother in 2005 has been compared to that of Cubana’s mother’s burial, and certainly Otunba Adenuga should feel maligned. It is an unintelligent comparison. The point that has been made is that when Adenuga was burying his mother he donated a cow to every street in Ijebu-Igbo, his home town. Yeah. But there were no drunkards throwing bales of money on the streets or cleavage-bearing women, bleached from head to toe, with artificial physiognomy and a mass of excessive protoplasm, promenading here and there, with shameless, bedmatic display. Last weekend, we saw a new definition of womanhood in Oba.

My point is about taste, class and values, not melodrama, or the right of persons to live as they wish. And here, I also draw attention to the burial about the same time of the mother of the former Managing Director of Access Bank, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, which took place in Lagos at the Tafawa Balewa Square. The contrast is striking but I bring it up because it also says something about Nigeria: the emergence of two polarized publics, both of seemingly strong weight and whose difference lies is the inherited future of our children because of the way Nigerian leaders have failed the people. The burial of Apostle Mrs Aig Imoukhuede was a dignified, classy event attended by the Nigerian establishment from politics to business and civil society. It was the celebration of a woman who achieved distinction in her own right and whose accomplishments in that regard were properly show-cased. The funeral was not about her first son, the banker, investor, philanthropist, friend of every important figure.

It was, most appropriately, a celebration of her life. Nobody had any need to throw money around. Even if Mrs Imoukhuede was a trader at Oyingbo market, there would have been no need to turn her funeral into a festival of money. And yet the richest and most influential Nigerians with the strongest pedigree were there. One weekend, two burials, different tales! I leave it to you to stretch the comparison. I have made my point: Nigeria is in trouble. Young Nigerians, products of a failed leadership, worship money and fakery. The gentrified class train their children in the best schools abroad, but those same children will return to a country that would have been taken over by the Oba crowd who are sadly, the future of Nigeria. Obi Cubana, and Aig Imoukhuede, our commiserations.

Nigeria has received six of 12 turboprop light attack aircraft from the United States to help fight mounting insecurity, its air force said. Africa's most populous nation faces several security crises, including a 12-year-old jihadist insurgency in the northeast, herder-farmer clashes in the centre, kidnapping for ransom in the northwest and separatist agitation in the south.

"The first batch of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft have arrived in Kano today," Nigeria Air Force spokesman Edward Gabkwet said in a statement late Thursday. He told AFP on Friday that six out of 12 had arrived, and the next batch would arrive in October.

The planes are built in the US by Sierra Nevada Corp. and its Brazilian partner, Embraer Defense and Security. The $593-million (504-million-euro) deal was initially unveiled in May 2016 under former US president Barack Obama. However, the Obama administration froze the sale just before handing over to Donald Trump, after the Nigerian military accidentally bombed a camp for people displaced by jihadist conflict in the northeast, killing 112 civilians. Boko Haram and rival offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have killed at least 40,000 people and forced more than two million people from their homes since 2009.

The violence has spread to parts of neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the jihadists. In August 2017, the State Department under Trump informed Congress it had approved the deal, which includes supplying the Nigerian armed forces with ammunition, training and aircraft maintenance.

The Super Tucano is already used in Brazil, for border patrols, and in a dozen other air forces including in Afghanistan, Colombia and Indonesia. On Sunday, the Nigerian air force said it had lost an Alpha Jet, a European-made trainer and light attack plane built in the 1970s and 80s, after it came under fire from criminal gangs in Zamfara state in the northwest of the country.


Louisiana teen Zaila Avant-garde correctly spells 'M-U-R-R-A-Y-A' to win Scripps National Spelling Bee and became the first African American to win National spelling Bee.


Zaila Avant-garde, the winner of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.


Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old from New Orleans, Louisiana, just won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee after correctly spelling murraya -- a type of tree -- to clinch the championship. To get there, the teen had to navigate her way through words like "querimonious," "solidungulate," and "Nepeta," a word the teen had to reset on, and let out a joyous jump after her correct spelling.

Avant-garde has become the first African-American contestant to win the bee in 93 editions of the competition -- and will receive a $50,000 cash prize.

National Spelling Bee will crown a winner Thursday night, meet Zaila Avant- garde a speller and basketball star - masslive.comZaila and her competitors

The competition began with 209 spellers, ranging from 9 to 15 years old, from five countries: the US, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana and Japan.
Eleven contestants entered Thursday night's final, with Avant-garde emerging as the nation's top speller.



First Lady Dr. Jill Biden was on hand to cheer on the competitors at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.





The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been a source of conflict between Addis Ababa and Egypt and Sudan since construction began

Ethiopia has started the second phase of filling the reservoir of its mega-dam on the upper Blue Nile, Egypt and Sudan said, raising tensions Tuesday ahead of an upcoming UN Security Council meeting on the divisive project. Both Cairo and Khartoum said they had been notified by Addis Ababa that the second phase of filling had begun at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt's irrigation ministry late Monday expressed its "firm rejection of this unilateral measure" and Sudan's foreign ministry on Tuesday followed suit, labelling the move a "risk and imminent threat".

In Addis Ababa, the offices of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele did not respond to AFP's requests for comment. The huge dam, set to be Africa's largest hydroelectric project when completed, has sparked an almost decade-long diplomatic stand-off between Addis Ababa and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia says the project is essential to its development, but Cairo and Khartoum fear it could restrict their citizens' water access. Both governments have been urging Addis Ababa to sign a binding deal over the filling and the dam's operations, calling on the UN Security Council to take up the matter.

Ethiopia's Nile dam

- UNSC to meet -
Thursday's Security Council meeting was requested by Tunisia on behalf of Egypt and Sudan, a diplomatic source told AFP.
But France's ambassador to the UN said last week that the council itself can do little apart from bringing all the sides together and "encourage them to get back to the negotiations".

Tunisia has also submitted a draft resolution calling on Ethiopia to cease filling the reservoir, diplomatic sources said Tuesday. The text, obtained by AFP, calls on the three countries to resume negotiations and to finalise the details of an agreement on filling within six months. It urges the "three countries to refrain from making any statements, or taking any action that may jeopardize the negotiation process, and urges Ethiopia to refrain from continuing to unilaterally fill the GERD reservoir." No date has been set for the draft resolution vote and diplomatic sources have said it is unlikely it will be as early as Thursday's meeting. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in an earlier note to the UN that negotiations are at an impasse, and accused Ethiopia of adopting "a policy of intransigence that undermined our collective endeavours to reach an agreement."

Shoukry and his Sudanese counterpart Mariam al-Mahdi met in New York ahead of the Security Council talks and reiterated their "firm rejection" of Ethiopia's move, Cairo said. Relations between Cairo and Addis Ababa have been icy over the past decade, while tensions have also risen between Ethiopia and Sudan as the Tigray conflict has sent refugees fleeing across the border into Sudan.

- 'Existential threat' -
Addis Ababa had previously announced it would proceed to the second stage of filling in July, with or without a deal. Ethiopia argues that adding water to the reservoir, especially during the months of July and August which typically enjoy heavy rainfall, is a natural part of the construction process. Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.Sudan hopes the project will regulate annual flooding but fears its own dams would be harmed without agreement on the Ethiopian operation.

Explained: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam | Middle East EyeEthiopia's President Abiy Ahmed, Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are pictured left to right (AFP)

The 145-metre (475-foot) tall mega-dam, construction of which began in 2011, has a reservoir with a total capacity of 74 billion cubic metres (2.61 trillion cubic feet). Filling began last year, with Ethiopia announcing in July 2020 it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic metres -- enough to test the dam's first two turbines. The goal is to add more than double that volume this year.

- 'Unifying' factor for Ethiopians -
Reaching that target would be a political boon for Ethiopia's Abiy as he strains to end the brutal war in Tigray, said Costantinos Berhutesfa Costantinos, a public policy expert at Addis Ababa University. "This is a unifying factor for Ethiopians in the middle of so many ethnic conflicts you see here, and therefore it's important for the country and the leadership of the country to complete the dam in accordance with the schedule," Costantinos said. Last year, Sudan said the process had caused water shortages, including in the capital Khartoum -- a claim Ethiopia disputed.

Costantinos dismissed the notion that further reservoir-filling would be harmful. "If anything it will have a positive impact as it will prevent flooding in Sudan, and this water is going to be available to them. It is not going to be withheld permanently," he said.


TEARS OF MY MOTHER: The Legacy of my Nigerian Upbringing will hit shelves in May 2022


Dr. Wendy Osefo can now add published author to her impressive resumé. The Real Housewives of Potomac star has a new book, titled TEARS OF MY MOTHER: The Legacy of my Nigerian Upbringing, set to hit shelves in May 2022, PEOPLE can exclusively reveal.

"Motherhood is a layered concept and being able to examine it through this book from my lens of an immigrant and mother of three has opened my eyes to the many ways we as mothers carry the weight of our past into not only our future but that of our children," Osefo, 37, tells PEOPLE.  

The book, published by Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books, will follow Osefo's emotionally intense and complicated relationship with her mother Susan Okuzu and how her Nigerian upbringing affected her life and her role as a mother.  "I hope readers will take from this book that it is never too late to make a change in your life and that of your own children," she continued. "We must prepare future generations not for our world, but the world they will live in when we are no longer here."


RHOP' Star Wendy Osefo Responds To Claims That She's From a 'Cursed'  Nigerian TribeMr and Dr Osefo  Family


The reality star and college professor was born in Nigeria and raised in the United States by Okuzu, who "arrived in the States with a single suitcase and the fierce determination to make a better life for herself, a resolution that she would later pass on to her children," the book release said. 

After completing her Bachelor's degree and two Master's, Osefo went on to become the first Black woman to obtain a doctorate in Public Affairs-Community Development from Rutgers University (Camden). 

She is now a mother of three, professor at John Hopkins University and regular contributor on various cable news channels. In 2020, she joined Bravo's RHOP, becoming the first PhD-holder to be a cast member on the Real Housewives franchise. After a successful run on the series last year, Osefo will again be appearing on the reality show for the upcoming sixth season premiering July 11 at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.

"Wendy has given her mother bragging rights for life," the release on her upcoming book said. "Yet she still grapples with how much she owes her mother and how she will blend her American experience and Nigerian legacy to raise her three children to be successful and happy in the world they live in now."
TEARS OF MY MOTHER: The Legacy of my Nigerian Upbringing is scheduled for a May 2022 release.

Credit : People Magazine


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