Obianuju Ekeocha is a UK-based activist and author from Nigeria who founded Culture of Life Africa. Her organization defends African culture from Western governments and charities intent on pushing a ‘progressive’ agenda on African families. In her zeal to defend natural marriage and unborn life, Ekeocha has confronted various powerful figures, from Melinda Gates and President Barack Obama to U.N. Delegates and even the Catholic Church’s recent Synod on the Family.
Most of us in the West know very little about African culture, and yet many of us unwittingly support the very “charities” and foreign aid policies that Ekeocha believes are harmful to African people. To get Ekeocha’s take, I contacted her for an interview, which was conducted via email September 5.
Stephen Herreid: What got you started? Why did you found Culture of Life Africa, and how did you become a world-traveling advocate of the Gospel of Life?
Obianuju Ekeocha: I was born and raised in a small town in Nigeria. And I had the great blessing of assimilating, from my family and society, basic principles and values of faith, family, love, life, dignity and discipline.
I was taught that sex was sacred and best reserved for marriage, that marriage was the foundation of family, and that family was supposed to be the center of love and support. I understood that human life was precious from the womb and so every abortion was a serious attack against human life.
I knew, even as a young girl going through the less-than-perfect educational system in Nigeria, that my empowerment was dependent on my continued access to education rather than my access to contraception (and abortion).
By the time I moved to Europe in my mid-twenties for my masters degree, I realized that even though there was much to admire in the Western culture that I had moved into, there was a part of this culture that I could not accept or embrace because it was the direct opposite of the values I had learnt from my youth.
For years I held my thoughts, opinions and convictions to myself, but in 2012, when I heard that Melinda Gates was launching a multibilliondollar contraception and population control project targeted towards the 69 poorest countries in the world (most of which were African countries), I saw this as a bold move on her part to impose her worldview upon the poorest of the world. She was pushing to shift the views of millions of people on family, motherhood, marriage and sex.
This was cultural imperialism and I couldn’t reconcile with it or be silent about it.
It is Ms. Ekeocha’s last point here that struck me when we were working on the latest issue of Salvo—specifically from Nicole M. King’s article on this very topic. I had never thought about it in those terms, “cultural imperialism,” but of course that is exactly what it is. Ms. King writes in her article Fertility Fixers: Population Controllers Miscalculate
The second big incongruity in the NPR article—and others like it—is that apparently, when it comes to babies, it’s okay for the West to throw away its multicultural principles and instead be racist and colonial and altogether creepy toward people in less-developed countries. Despite all their talk about affirming the choices and cultures of people in those countries, the U.S. and other developed nations are brazenly poking their noses into the most intimate relationships that people can have.
Policymakers like to cite maternal mortality rates as justification for such intrusion, and admittedly, the rates in Ghana and other sub-Saharan nations are much higher than those in the developed world. But given that African women seem generally to want more children, why do we spend billions of dollars on birth control for them and then billions more trying to convince them to use it? The title of one of those Guttmacher Institute fact sheets says it all—”Costs and Benefits of Investing in Contraceptive Services in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
It’s the money, honey. The current model of reproductive foreign aid—injecting women with contraceptive implants or inserting IUDs—costs a lot less than setting up clinics and helping women deliver safely. It also costs the West a lot less in humanitarian aid when there are fewer women and children to care for. And it’s a lot more in line with our elite’s anti-baby ideology.
Food for thought.