Sunday, September 26, 2004

GQ Magazine is Pushing Back the Article

Taking a back seat to...

UPDATE (5/19/2005): I know many of you are getting to this post looking for the lovely young lady in the picture above, but while you are here, why not find out why I reference this magazine in the first place...

I spoke with GQ Senior Editor Jason Gay this weekend and it looks like the article about my adoption story and my trip to Nigeria to meet my biological father is going to get bumped from the November issue. But that actually may be a good thing.

One reason they want to push it back is that Mark Seliger- the photographer that traveled with us- took so many amazing photos of the trip, they just don't have enough room in the November issue for all the images they want to use. That is also good news for me because Mark promised me some prints- I can't wait to see them.

The second blessing in disguise is that the article won't have to compete with this year's election. The brass at GQ seems to think that this could be a huge national story that would be overshadowed by all the media air being sucked up Bush vs. Kerry and the aftermath of election day. February just might be a much more human interest story friendly month. I have no problem with that. (Not that it would matter if I did.)

Now if they could only find a cover that will promote sales in the U.S. (How about finding an excuse to put Lindsay Lohan on the cover again to sell a few extra issues?)

Side Note: There is also a possibility that the article could end up in GQ's South Africa edition. However, I will be sending my relatives in Nigeria the U. S. edition.

UPDATE 10/5: O.K. It has just been brought to my attention that Lindsay Lohan is only 18 years old, but I say it doesn't matter. I wasn't being leacherous- I was being practical. Salivating guys and teenage girl fans of Lohan will buy the issue just because she is on the cover, thus increasing sales of that issue. That is what I meant by "promote sales." (But I will admit that she is an attractive young lady.)

The Presentation Went Great!

Yesterday I gave my big presentation entitled African Homecoming: A Reunion Story for friends, family, and even a few strangers. My children's former school, Becks Montessori, and Grace Slavic Church deserve a big thanks for allowing me to use their facility and AV equipment.

We had about 85 people at the event where I debuted my hour long multi-media presentation about my adoption story and my recent trip to Africa to meet my biological father. I also cooked some traditional Nigerian foods for sampling and had some of my local Nigerian friends come to perform a traditional Igbo greeting- the breaking of the Kola Nut.

Everyone in the audience gave great 'reviews' of the presentation and I am grateful for their interest in my story. Now I can continue blogging about my story and the experience.

UPDATE: Oh yeah-- I almost forgot. Jason Gay- the editor from GQ who has written a story about me for his magazine- flew in from New York just for my presentation. So did Scott Fort- an assistant to a movie producer who is considering my story either the big or small screen. (We'll see if that one works out- hoping for the best.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Yes, it stands for Officer Education Transcript Repository. (Thanks Allah and Baldilocks.)

Now read, "What's This Blog About?" I plan on writing much more starting again on Sunday the 26th of September (the day after the presentation.) Also, my more politically edged blog, You Know I'm Right, will be firing away again soon. I've just been too caught up in reading about Dan Rather on all the other blogs.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back to enjoy the story. Maybe after election day when things calm down, you can drop by to enjoy a what I consider a fascinating story!

P.S. Now I need the blogosphere to investigate what I think is another hoax.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I Must Finish This Presentation

I cannot write another word in either of my blogs until I finish my powerpoint presentation on my trip to Africa (the one where I met my father for the first time.) I am doing a practice run at a friends house this coming Friday, and will have a real audience for the first time on the 25th of September.

Then I have two college groups and a church that have asked me to speak about my experience. (And the GQ Magazine article hasn't even come out yet.)

Sorry to my few but ever growing number of readers- it's going to be another day or two. If you haven't read starting at day one, I invite you to do so. Also- tell a friend or two about this while you're at it.


UPDATE 9/5/2004: (O.K. So I fudged a bit- I'm not quite done yet.) I finished the Powerpoint part of the presentation last night by staying up late. I even got a little of the writing done before I realized that I was asleep and drooling.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

What's This Blog About?

This is for those of you visiting for the first time, or who have never heard my story.

I was adopted at age three by a black family in Omaha, Nebraska. From the time of my adoption up until three years ago, I knew nothing about my natural parents. In fact, while I had been curious now and then, it wasn't until I got married and had children of my own that I found the motivation and desire to actually take action on the subject. Even then, it took some prodding by my wife to become active in an actual search.

As luck would have it, just as I began my search, my natural mother found me first. She was living in California (and still is) as do her daughters (even though technically half, they are my sisters to me) and their families. About ten months later I also found my biological father and six more brothers and sisters, living back in his native country, Nigeria. And then there is the "Prince" story.

So what is this about? It's mostly be about my adoption story. I will also keep you up to date on the most recent aspects of my story as well as the progress I make on some of my new goals. These include my quest to take my wife and children to Africa to meet their Nigerian family, and to bring my Nigerian family to the United States to see where I live.

And of course I will be throwing in a few opinions here and there on different issues ranging from adoption, to race realtions, to what makes a family and so on (although I'll keep a separate blog for any overtly political ramblings.)

This past May I went to Nigeria to meet my father and his children (my six brothers and sisters) for the very first time thanks to a wonderful surprise on my birthday (40 on 04/04/04). A writer and photographer from GQ Magazine went with me on my trip and will be publishing a story about my trip and adoption experience that will be on the stands October 25th. More on that later.

I hope you enjoy reading this. Drop a comment here and there to let me know you stopped by!

Also- find out why I am taking donations.

UPDATE 8/26/2004: Looks like the GQ article won't be out until February 2005.
UPDATE 2/20/2005: Uh... Make that later this year- perhaps May 2005.

Make a Donation

A friend of mine once suggested to include a spot on this site to accept donations. After some thought, I have decided that it couldn't hurt, and hopefully that this will be interesting and entertaining enough that people won't mind helping me reach a few goals for my family.

These are some of the reasons I am accepting donations at this site. Some are just dreams, but others could and need to become a reality. Now that I have met both of my birth parents and have traveled great distances to see them both:

1) There was a time that visiting my parents meant a six hour drive to Omaha. Now that I have two more parents to visit- one in California, and one in Nigeria- travel costs to visit all of them has become a very expensive proposition. Especially with my wife and two kids. (Especially Nigeria.)

2) The past couple of years have been less than a stellar financially. My goal has always been to take my whole family to Nigeria so that my children can see "where they come from." I am working hard to make the trip a reality but it is slow going. They are at an age where this trip can and will have a lasting impact on their lives.

3) This one is probably just a dream, but man would it be cool. I would like to have a family reunion. But not just any reunion. It would definitely be a dream come true if I could bring my three families together for a family picture in front of my house. That means bringing my mom, dad, and sister I grew up with in from Omaha, my mother and my two sisters and their children in from California, and my father, his wife, my six brothers and sisters and their families in from Nigeria. If I could get as many Aunts, Uncles, and cousins as possible, it could end up being over 300 people.

Yes, I know... major logistics. But it would be an incredible feat. If this one would ever happen, it would have to happen within the next few years as none of my parents are getting any younger. we would also probably have to have some sponsors.

4) The Nigerian Electrical Power Authority(NEPA) is extremely unreliable as a provider of electricity. One of my favorite jokes in Nigeria is that NEPA really stands for "Never Expect Power Always." Thus most people also have generators at their homes. It is my opinion that my father needs a new one. I would like to get one for him. (And perhaps one really big one for the entire village.) This should probably be number one on my list, as it would really help my father out.

5) My father was in the United States in 1963 getting his Master's Degree in Education so that he could eventually take over and run the school that my grandfather founded in the village of Aboh Orlu. There are probably a few hundred children that attend this school today. It would be an incredible gift to provide them school supplies each year, and perhaps even some computers. I'm sure that somebody out there could find some refurbished p2 or p3 computers to donate to a school. (Who has connections? I'll find a way to get the stuff over there.)

I will continue blogging about my experiences with my new super-extended family for as long as possible and keep you up-to-date as to my progress in all these endeavors. I will try to keep it interesting and include lots of photos.

I will continue in this format for now, though I think that I may need to upgrade to a format that is more user friendly- in other words, I plan on including a lot more photos, and perhaps even video. Thus, I think that I might need to upgrade from the free site I am currently using, to a more tech savvy, self-hosted site with more graphics friendly software. (Note- I am open to suggestions on how to work this. )

What's in it for you? I will do my best to keep this an interesting blog. Look- if you have liked this story so far, you haven't seen anything yet. There is so much more to come. Especially as I start to explore this reunion idea AND especially if I am able post from Africa the next time I go. PLUS- we are also flirting with the idea of producing a documentary about my story. We'll get into that later. Have I mentioned the book or movie guys yet?

Finally- I know that asking for donation on a free blog site can sometimes border on tacky. If you are inclined to donate, bless you. If not, I'm still glad you're here. And if it is only a couple of bucks or a whole lot more, I know it's the thought that counts and you will be the object of my heartfelt gratitude. On behalf of me, my wife, my children, and my entire super-family...

Thank you for your consideration!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

What AM I?

I was adopted by an African American family at age three. Add that to the fact that my features are that of a person of African descent, growing up I was part of the population that would check the square indicating "black" whenever I would fill out a form where I was asked to indicate my race. At some point it became more politically correct to call people like me African American, so when the term on the form changed, so did I.

Now it seems that maybe I may have been checking the wrong box all along. Especially after reading this from Stuart Buck's blog.

For a moment, the Ethiopian-born activist seemed to melt into the crowd, blending into the sea of black professors, health experts and community leaders considering how to educate blacks about the dangers of prostate cancer. But when he piped up to suggest focusing some attention on African immigrants, the dividing lines were promptly and pointedly drawn.

The focus of the campaign, the activist, Abdulaziz Kamus, was told, would be strictly on African-Americans."

I said, 'But I am African and I am an American citizen; am I not African-American?'" said Mr. Kamus, who is an advocate for African immigrants here, recalling his sense of bewilderment. "They said 'No, no, no, not you.'"

"The census is claiming me as an African-American," said Mr. Kamus, 47, who has lived in this country for 20 years. "If I walk down the streets, white people see me as an African-American. Yet African-Americans are saying, 'You are not one of us.' So I ask myself, in this country, how do I define myself?"

The New York Times article Buck references points out that some people believe that the term African American should only apply to those Americans who are descendants of slaves. (What about that Mrs. Heinz Kerry?)

Now here is my dilema. In my adoptive family, my 96 year old grandmother is the daughter of a former slave. Thus, she can use the term "African American" in almost any circle. And because of my features, I too would be thought of by most people as the same.

However, now that I have discovered my birth parents, and have learned that my father is native Nigerian, there are some who might deny me the right to call myself "African American."

Hmm- I was born and raised in the United States. And I am definitely from African descent. But maybe I should switch to Nigerian American? It doesn't roll off the tounge as easy, but it could work and it is probably more accurate.

WAIT- I'm also half Irish. Black Irish? No- they were those Irish people who supposedly had Spanish (or Italian) ancestry.

How about Nigerian-Irish-American? Nah- too long. Plus, I don't think they will have a check box for that one.

How about "Other?" Nah. Takes too long to fill in the blank.

Pehaps, I'll just stick to what I say when people are crass enough to ask me what I am. I usually just smile and say, I'm an American. I guess I'll have to leave the little boxes blank.

UPDATE: Here is a really good piece on this issue for anybody interested!

UPDATE 9/8: Welcome if you are coming from the "Carnival." PLUS, a big P.S. I couldn't be more proud of my Nigerian and Irish heritage and I am looking forward to learning more about all sides of my super-family!

The Presentation

I haven't been writing as much as I would like to because of "The Presentation." Part of the plan when I went to Africa was to have a gathering of all the people that helped make my trip happen, and show them photos and answer questions about my experience. Thus I have been working on a Powerpoint presentation using many of the over 500 photos I have and writing the stories of my travels.

While this may seem like a simple undertaking, it is not. You see, there were over 130 people who helped me with this trip. There are also at least another 100-200 who have asked me when the presentation is going to happen. We have asked my children's former school and the church that houses them to use their space, as we are expecting at least 100 people to this event.

Laura (a.k.a. "The Wife") has also been very busy gathering up door prizes and putting together a drawing and a silent auction (we'll donate the money to the school.) We will also have some other entertainment- an African student group at St. Olaf's College in Northfield has offered to bring thier award winning African dance troup to perform in exchange for me doing a presentation at their school. We will also have music from West Africa and I will be making samples of Nigerian foods for our guests to try. It is going to be a huge event.

The highlight for me will be to fulfill a promise I made to my father. In Igbo tradition, whenever someone comes to your home, or when you have special guests, or when there is a special event, you present them with a kola nut. It involves blessing the kola (which must be done in the Igbo language)-presenting it to your guests, and then cutting it into pieces to share.

In Nigeria, my father would often be the person who would bless the kola. Afterwards he would say a few words in English, offering kola nut to the guests. On a couple of occasions, he made a request of me to take a special kola nut back to the United States with me to present to our leaders as a gesture of good will on behalf of the people of Aboh Orlu. His instructions were to present one to our Mayor, one to our Governor, and one to the President of the United States, letting them all know that the people of Nigeria wish them wisdom and many blessings.

Thus, we have invited the mayor, the governor, and the President of the United States to our presentation. We also invited our Vice President, our local Congressman, our Senators, our State Representative. So far the Mayor as given an RSVP. Our Congressman cannot attend due to a prior commitment, but will have a representative there on his behalf. And the while the President's office responded... (Well- it is an election year, ya know!)

I guess I'll have to make a separate appointment with the Governor and the President. In any case, I will take pictures to send back to my father with those who show up so I can send the proof back to my father. I think that he will be pleased.