I’m always looking for a good story. I already have a lot of ideas on my brain shelf that I want to pursue journalistically. It’s just a matter of going out there on the field to write them! Here are some of the story ideas. What do you think?
#1 What Happens To The Clitoris?
Female Circumcision. Some call it Female Genital Mutilation. It’s still happening to millions of female around the world. There are different forms of female circumcision, varying in how much is cut. What I wanna know is, what does the “cutter” do with the cut clitoris and genital parts? Is it thrown away in the garbage can? Is it burned in a fire? Is it dedicated to the gods? Hmmm…this deserves some explanatory journalism!
#2 Food Taboos
Forever the cultural aficionado, I want to explore food taboos in societies across the continent. This is where culinary traditions and spirituality meet. I find it fascinating. I read online somewhere that in one community in Uganda, about 30 years ago or something, chicken was banned for pregnant women. Who knows if that’s true. You can’t believe everything you read online. But I want to find out more. In my town in southeastern Nigeria, coco yam is forbidden. You just can’t eat it. Yet, just 30 minutes away in other communities, coco yam is a treasured food staple. A lot of the food taboos have a spiritual rational behind them. So, food taboos across Africa. Hands down, this is one of the top 10 stories I want to write about in the near future.
#3 A Queen’s Village in Nigeria
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a post about a village in central Nigeria where women rule. Say what?! Rumor has it, “an ancient curse” ensures that any man who shows interest in the throne in this village is mysteriously killed. That’s what the poster on Facebook said! The post generated some comments. One commenter even confirmed the story and said he knows the community. This sounds cool, right?
#4 The Divine Woman
Keeping with the “strong women” theme, I’d love to do some research on female deities in Africa. I’ve always been interested in spirituality. Believe it or not, many societies in Africa worshipped female deities back in the day and some still do. So this is definitely on my to-do list.
#5 Black Folk Living in Africa
The African diaspora in America is full of stories. I’ve looked at some of them from both sides of the ocean. I want to do a candid story about black Americans who’ve decided to live in Africa and the perceptions that Africans have of black Americans. I envision an in-depth piece that will tell it like it is, because quite frankly, I’ve heard some strong views from Africans (Nigerians, Kenyans, Ghanaians, etc) about African Americans. This will be a fun one.
#6 Osu Caste
I’m Igbo. That’s one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. In Igboland, we have an ideology of social outcasts. It’s called Osu. Think: Untouchables in India. Ok. In the olden days of my grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather, back when the shrine was respected by the communities, the shrine was maintained by “slaves.” The slaves were dedicated to the shrine and the god(s) of the shrine. A strict social division between Osu and “free born” (diala) prevented the groups from prolonged interaction. A lot of the discrimination against Osu has reduced these days, but when it comes to marriage, the Osu issue usually rears its head up again. There’s a Facebook group of Osu people. I hear they’re petitioning to abolish the practice. That’s been said and done before, but it’s hard to erase such things.
#7 The Cost of Your Fake Hair
Black women across Africa are spending a lot of money on fake hair. Of course, black women in Africa are not the only women in the world who buy fake hair, but black women in Africa dominate other women when it comes to buying fake hair that looks nothing like their own…hair that imitates the hair of women from other ethnic backgrounds. I’m eternally amazed at how far black women will go to abandon and neglect and destroy the hair that grows out of their God-given heads. I’m thinking, it would be cool to collate some data on how much women spend on fake hair (the Brazilian, Peruvian, Indian hair extensions and fake weaves) and compare that to their monthly income.
#8 Cults of Power
There’s clearly a spiritual theme going on here! I know! I love it! Some of you may not be surprised to know that cultism is very popular in some communities across Africa. No big story there. But what is interesting, is how politicians use cults. (Think of something akin to the Freemasons or Skull and Bones). Cults and fraternities bind some politicians in spiritual alliances. A friend of mine from Cameroon told me that a lot of politicians there are initiated into secret cults and perform all sorts of spiritual related rituals. Another contact of mine in a Francophone African country told me that homosexual behavior is a hazing rite performed on incoming politicians into a popular cult. In Nigeria, there are all sorts of rumors of political cults and their bloody shenanigans. In Tanzania, the killing of albinos is highest during political campaign season because some people believe albinos are magical and can bring good luck. And politicians want that good luck! Pursuing this story has some obvious risks…like, getting killed! Or even worse, having an irreversible spell cast on you for snooping around.
#9 Women of the Jihad
I’ve been speaking to a lot of Muslim women in Nigeria about extremism and jihad. I’ve heard various opinions about what these terms mean. I know one woman who supported and helped Boko Haram in the group’s early days. She sees herself as one who is pursuing jihad. I’d like to gather stories of Muslim women (I’m not sure where yet) and get their views on jihad. How do they define it? Some see it as a militaristic fight against a clear external target, usually in the form of a government or another group of people. Others see it as a more internal, introspective and personal struggle.
#10 The Children of Biafra
During Nigeria’s 1967-1970 civil war (the first war of its kind in Africa that received massive attention from the Western media) hundreds (or thousands) of Biafran children were airlifted in a series of secret missions out of Biafra (southeastern Nigeria) into countries of refuge, like Gabon. Whatever happened to these children and what about their children’s children? I know this story will be a challenge. So many documents are lost. Many people don’t like to talk about Biafra. It’s such a sensitive topic in Nigeria. I met an elderly white guy in Chicago who was giving a speech at an Igbo youth conference that I attended. He was invited to talk about his experience in Biafra. He was a pilot for an NGO -can’t remember which one. As part of a humanitarian relief mission, he flew planes – full of Biafran children on the brink of death by starvation– out of the country. The Biafra story is a part of Nigerian story that has yet to be fully told.
What do you think about the stories? I love feedback!
By Chika Oduah