Nigeria

1
“Loose Ends” by Bob Criso (Nigeria/Somalia)
2
“The Peace Corps Blew It” by Bob Criso (Nigeria)
3
“The Nzeogwu I Knew” by Tim Carroll (Nigeria)
4
The One Word That Almost Sunk the Peace Corps
5
Aubrey Brown (Nigeria 1961-63) Dies in Boston
6
Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964-67) Publishes in Transnational Literature
7
A Writer Writes: The Lost Volunteer
8
Review of Lauri Anderson's (Nigeria 1965-67) From Moosehead to Misery Bay
9
A Writer Writes: Teachers Room Sex Farce in Nigeria
10
A Writer Writes: Apocalypse Then (Part II)

“Loose Ends” by Bob Criso (Nigeria/Somalia)

  Loose Ends by Bob Criso  (Nigeria 1966-67, Somalia 1967-68) • SUSAN STEEN AND PAUL BAUMER met on a beach in Bali. She was traveling with her friend Janice, taking a lot of pictures with her fancy camera. He was on his way home after two years with the Peace Corps in Africa. They have sex in the moonlight. It was 1970. “What was it like?” Susan asks, sitting up on the blanket and lighting a cigarette. Paul tells her about his early Peace Corps success. He and his friend Jeff “worked their asses off” and got all the latrines built for their project in only six months, thanks to a lot of help from the locals. He became fluent in Nglele. When the locals didn’t use the latrines, he learned that they use feces as fertilizer and didn’t want to waste it in the latrines. All along, the locals . . .

Read More

“The Peace Corps Blew It” by Bob Criso (Nigeria)

  I HAD JUST GRADUATED from college in January 1966 when I picked up the New York Times and read about the bloody military coup in Nigeria. The Prime Minister and a number of other top government officials were killed. Nigeria’s budding democracy ended two weeks before I’d be leaving for Peace Corps training. Mmmm. “Do you know what you’re getting into?” my Uncle Ralph asked.   FOUR MONTHS LATER  I was settled into a teaching assignment in Ishiagu, Eastern Nigeria, and pretty content. Nice house, great students, companionable colleagues and a village culture that fascinated me. I rolled up the sleeves of my new dashiki and plunged right in — lots of palm wine, kola nuts and cultural-exchange-talk in mud homes, my Igbo vocabulary expanding in the process. When I was invited to a local wedding, I felt like I had been granted honorary citizenship. It wasn’t long before the BBC . . .

Read More

“The Nzeogwu I Knew” by Tim Carroll (Nigeria)

   Editor’s Note: In February 2015, Roger Landrum (01) 1961–63, in the email below, alerted the newsletter staff of what he believed to be an interesting story about a friendship that had developed in Nigeria in 1965 between Peace Corps Volunteer Tim Carroll and a young major in the Nigerian army. Jim. I recently read Achebe’s Biafra memoir, There Was a Country. It has a brief section on Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, one of the five military majors who led the coup that triggered the chain of events leading to the Biafran secession and the civil war. Achebe calls Nzeogwu “a mysterious figure.” Maybe not all that mysterious! There was a Nigeria PCV named Timothy Carroll posted in Kaduna who was friends with Nzeogwu. I’m trying to convince Carroll to write a piece for the FON newsletter called “The Nzeogwu I Knew.” I think Nigeria RPCVs would find this fascinating. It . . .

Read More

The One Word That Almost Sunk the Peace Corps

THE ONE WORD THAT ALMOST SUNK THE PEACE CORPS BY EMILY CADEI OZY Writer MAY 15, 2015 When John F. Kennedy asked young Americans in 1960 how many of them were willing to spend years in the developing world “working for freedom,” he surely had people like Marjorie Michelmore in mind. What he couldn’t have anticipated is how the young Marjorie almost sent his whole vision for the Peace Corps up in smoke. Michelmore had just graduated magna cum laude from Smith College when she was selected for the inaugural class of Peace Corps volunteers in 1961. It was a pet project of Kennedy’s, a concept he first broached at a morning campaign rally at the University of Michigan in October 1960, after arriving several hours late. Thousands of students had waited for him – a sign of how much Kennedy excited young people back then. And he, in turn, was excited to . . .

Read More

Aubrey Brown (Nigeria 1961-63) Dies in Boston

RPCV Aubrey Neblett Brown III (Nigeria 1961-63), who is perhaps the first PCV ‘hero’, died on February 14 in Boston. He was 78. A celebration of Aubrey’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. The family will receive guests beginning at 10 a.m. in the Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Aubrey’s name be made to World Student Christian Federation, USA, c/o Rev. Jorge Domingues, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1473, New York, NY 10115,  or World Can’t Wait, 305 West Broadway, #185, New York, NY 10013. Several years ago Murray Frank (Nigeria and HQ Staff 1961-64) wrote the story of Aubrey’s involvement in the famous ‘postcard’ incident for the Nigeria RPCV newsletter. Here is Murray’s account of what took place in Ibadan, Nigeria. • Nigeria in those first days of the Peace Corps by  Murray Frank October 14, 1961, was the day the postcard . . .

Read More

Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964-67) Publishes in Transnational Literature

Ron Singer’s (Nigeria 1964-67) story “Their Countries of Origin”  is set in an imaginary central-African dictatorship and appears in the November issue of Transnational Literature, an academic e-journal from Flinders University, Perth, Australia. The theme is the response of American liberals to illiberal regimes around the world. Ron has written seven books and twice been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. His poetry, fiction, satire, journalism and operate (librettos) all can be found at www.ronsinger.net. Ron Singer’s 44-year teaching career began with the Peace Corps in Nigeria (1964-67). The author of seven books, Singer (www.ronsinger.net) trawls the genres: poetry, fiction, satire, journalism and opera (librettos). Among the venues where his work has appeared are Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Evergreen Review, The Georgia Review, Grey Sparrow, Poets & Writers, and The Wall Street Journal.  Singer’s serial thriller, Geistmann, and his serial farce, The Parents We Deserve, can currently be read at jukepopserials.com.

Read More

A Writer Writes: The Lost Volunteer

The Lost Volunteer Whatever happened to Jim King? by Bob Criso (Nigeria & Somalia 1966-68) In the past, I spent a lot of time searching for Jim King, eager to talk with him about the last intense days that we spent together in Biafra. Jim was stationed at Macgregor Teacher Training College in Afikpo, about an hours ride from my house in Ishiagu on my Honda 50. When the war was heating up in the spring of ’67, Peace Corps Enugu gave me a van and a list of people to pick up in case of an emergency evacuation. Jim was on that list and I picked him up during the last-minute rush to leave the country. Jim, a tall, wiry, blond guy with glasses, was on the Peace Corps “whereabouts unknown” list for years. His family had moved from his last Altadena, California address while he was in Nigeria. . . .

Read More

Review of Lauri Anderson's (Nigeria 1965-67) From Moosehead to Misery Bay

From Moosehead to Misery Bay: or The Moose in the VW Bug by Lauri Anderson (Nigeria 1965–67) North Star Press $14.00 224 pages June 2013 Reviewed by Don Schlenger (Ethiopia 1966-68) FROM MOOSEHEAD TO MISERY BAY is a wonderful collection of tales both tall and, according to the author, mostly true. They recount his childhood and adolescence growing up in northern Maine at the southern edge of the great northern forest; his young adulthood overseas as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nigeria and later as a teacher in Micronesia and Turkey; and his life in academe at a small Finnish-American college in the upper peninsula of Michigan. There is very little of what could be called “mainstream” about the life Anderson describes, which makes the book all the more compelling and enjoyable, and there are more than a few “Are you KIDDING?” moments as well. Here are a few: Local . . .

Read More

A Writer Writes: Teachers Room Sex Farce in Nigeria

Teachers Room Sex Farce by Larry Lesser (Nigeria 1964-65) [Note: The author maintains that this is a true story except that he’s changed everybody’s names except his own and his then-wife’s. No need to change their names because they come out smelling like a rose.] • It’s January 1964 when Harriet and I arrive in newly independent Nigeria, peacefully unyoked from British rule. We’re Peace Corps Volunteers, deployed as teachers at the Government Technical Institute (GTI) in the provincial capital of Enugu. Our school is preparing young Nigerian men for careers in engineering and business. Our principal is ex-RAF wing commander Maddox, who resembles the caricature Colonel Blimp in physiognomy and demeanor. The deputy principal is a Nigerian named Otuagbo. More than half of the faculty are expatriates, representing an assortment of Anglophone nationalities … including the two American PCVs, Harriet and me. Nigeria is being hailed for its successful . . .

Read More

A Writer Writes: Apocalypse Then (Part II)

Apocalypse Then by Bob Criso (Nigeria & Somalia 1966–68) • Part II Leaving Nigeria “BOB, THEY’RE GOING TO KILL US! They’re going to burn the house down.” Laura was shaking. “So this is how I’m going to die.” I visualized the headlines of my hometown newspaper: Peace Corps Volunteer Killed in Nigeria. I grabbed Laura by the shoulders. “Put your sneakers on. We may have to make a run for it.” Jeff was silent and frozen. Outside, an elderly local man stepped up onto a flat tree stump and addressed the crowd. He told them that he knew me, I was a good man and the two visitors were my friends. “Come to your senses!” he shouted like a scolding parent. It started to rain and the crowd quieted and thinned. That evening, Ugwu, Ekuma and Otu, fellow teachers, came to the house. They were somber-faced, apologetic and ashamed.  “We . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2016. Peace Corps Worldwide.