Q&A with Obianuju Ekeocha, founder and president of Culture of Life Africa
Obianuju Ekeocha (Uju) was born and raised in Nigeria, but now resides in the United Kingdom, where she works as a biomedical scientist. She is also the founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, an organization devoted to defending Africa’s pro-life and pro-family values from the assaults of many western nations and organizations; maybe the most famous example being the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose commitment to birth control and population control in Africa prompted Uju to write an article entitled “An African Woman’s Open Letter to Melinda Gates”. Since then, she has spoken at many events and on many radio and television talk shows, as well as at the United Nations.
I was recently given the honour of interviewing Uju. I asked for her opinions on some of the recent developments in regards to the culturally imperialistic message that the western world is trying to spread throughout the developing countries of Africa in regard to abortion and birth control. I also asked her what young Canadians can learn from African culture, as well as what steps we should take to ensure that countries that have a pro-life culture are safe from the western world’s anti-life ideology. Her answers to these questions are written below.
What made you decide that you wanted to get involved with Africa’s pro-life movement?
I was born and raised in the pro-life movement so my background was very pro-life and most of the people around me were pro-life.
Around 2006, I moved to the UK and it was a bit of a shock for me to find out that abortion was legal here and that moral expectations and cultural expectations were very different and that facts that I’ve always taken for granted, such as human life beginning at conception, were not accepted by many in the UK. It’s so natural where I came from and finding out here that it wasn’t so natural here, that it wasn’t the law that children should be protected from conception, was very shocking.
After a while I heard of Melinda Gates, the wife of Bill Gates, who decided that she was going to start a big project in Africa to spread the use of contraception. So I wrote an open letter to her and the letter went viral. I started writing more about pro-life issues and moral issues and then I got more involved in the last four years.
Justin Trudeau recently pledged over $81 million to the United Nations Population Fund, an agency whose purpose is to force population control and birth control on developing countries. What are your thoughts on this?
I think it’s very unfortunate and I’ve said that many times. It’s rather unfortunate that people decide to take that kind of mindset without first considering what the African people want, what is consistent with the way of life of the African people, without respecting what our cultural and social sensibilities are, and without ever asking of the African people what they want and need. He brings upon us what he thinks is right for us, which is something that I tag as cultural imperialism and neo-colonialism. This is where the West is trying to impose upon us a way of life that is quite objectionable to the culture, beliefs, and values of the African people. So I think it’s terrible.
You often cite pew polls that show that a vast majority of Africans consider abortion to be morally unacceptable, whereas a minority of Canadians consider abortion to be morally unacceptable. Recently, however, Guttmacher Institute released a study showing that the abortion rate in Africa is twice that of Canada. What do you make of these seemingly contradictory results?
The fact is that the figures that I quoted were from pew research, and everyone knows that pew research is, at best, a neutral body. Also, it was done in 2014, which is recent.
But Guttmacher Institute is a research institute that is closely linked to Planned Parenthood. So one can safely assume that when they set up to do this study they were likely trying to prove a point. They are trying to show that abortion is so much more common than we think. They are trying to put pressure on the African countries. So these so-called studies from Guttmacher Institute are questionable at best. How can somebody give numbers, for example, for abortions performed in a country where it’s not legal? How did they count it? Even in a country like Canada, people say that the numbers that you get at the end of the year aren’t exact. Yet there are ways that abortions are reported because abortion is legal in Canada, so there are at least numbers coming out that are reliable. But how do you go to a country where abortion is not even legal? There’s no acceptable or standard method of reporting abortions, so how can you begin to extrapolate the numbers of abortions coming out from that? That’s exactly what they’ve done: they’ve extrapolated numbers.
I believe that their studies are questionable and biased, and that the people who have funded these studies are people who support abortion. If you look at the countries that paid for this study to be done, it is countries like the United Kingdom, and some of the Scandinavian countries. These people have invested interests on numbers and figures like these and they believe that it will not be questioned. Well, a lot of us are questioning it and we don’t believe it because it doesn’t feel consistent with what’s on the ground.
What lessons can Canadians learn from African culture?
Especially in current times, there is an obvious storm in terms of a changing in culture; call it a moral climate change if you’d like. Things are shifting in a lot of the western countries. In these countries, moral standards have changed and expectations and moral culture are changing. And when I say changing, I mean that moral standards are lowering.
It’s true that many African nations have their own problems. We have economic problems, political instability, famine, hunger, and all those things that often come up on the news. But one thing I know that is common within every African society—and this is from someone who is African, who was raised in Africa, and who continues to work in Africa—is the value of family, the value of motherhood, the value of human life, and the value of faith. We need that within families. These are the virtues and values that have kept our societies together. They’re values that have kept the African people resilient no matter the problems and crises we go through. Some of the happiest people that I know are African people.
I believe that Africans can teach the world once again what the value of human life and the value of family and the value of human dignity are as long African values and views are respected.
What can the youth of Canada’s pro-life movement do to help Africa’s pro-life movement and defend Africa’s culture of life?
I think people in pro-life communities in the western countries are already beginning to show more interest in understanding the larger question, the global question. Every pro-life movement in every country has their own different challenge, they must also stand back and take a look at the bigger picture. Abortion continues to happen legally with government support and with almost government promotion now. If the youth can try to understand where that particular scar fits into the bigger global picture, then that could be quite helpful.
In that regard, because Africa remains the one continent where the majority of the countries have not legalized abortion, perhaps the Canadian pro-life youth can try to look closer. Yes, African nations are now going through so much pressure from all kinds of organizations and governments like the Canadian government and from the pro-abortion cabal pushing for a change in Africa. But still, many of the African countries are standing up and saying “No, abortion is morally reprehensible, morally unacceptable, and we will not fall”.
So perhaps we can learn from each other. We also need to learn from the pro-life youth in Canada. It might be time for people to come together and to understand the problem we have at hand: that if abortion is happening in any country in the world, then that is one country too many. We should all walk and think together and understand from each of our experiences how we can make the world a world where abortion is actually unacceptable and unthinkable.
I encourage you all to read Uju’s blogposts, listen to her past talks and interviews, and to learn more about Africa’s culture of life. If the fight against abortion is a battle between good and evil, then it is a battle on many fronts. We must be able to recognize these fronts and understand the culture of the battlefields if we wish to make headway and eventually win over this ideology that has imposed itself on far too much of the world.
- James Schadenberg is entering his first year of philosophy at the University of Western Ontario in September 2016. He is currently a CLC summer student.