Interviews of Famous People Series: Chika Unigwe

In class today, students were reading an article on author Chika Unigwe, and I informed them that I used to work for Yahoo! Voices as a contributing writer and had interviewed the author when she visited Smyrna, Georgia, from Belgium before she relocated to Georgia with her family. Upon further reflection, I decided to upload the articles I wrote for Yahoo! Voices into my blog since the contract I signed with Yahoo! is no longer valid. Also, that branch of Yahoo has been shut down.

Author Chika Unigwe Brings a Cause Célèbre to Atlanta

The harbinger of uncomfortable and eye-opening news, Nigerian author, Chika Unigwe, came four thousand miles to expose Atlantans to a festering human condition spreading too rapidly worldwide. Unigwe proffered unflattering details on the cancer of human trafficking during a gathering in her honor on Friday, November 18, 2011, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marietta.

The much publicized writer and the winner of numerous international awards and fellowships, Unigwe elaborated. “The incident is so prevalent that it has created a new middle class in Nigeria. Parents receive money from strange men in Italy to groom their daughters, and Italian men pay the tuition. The parents traffic their daughters once they graduate from high school,” Unigwe continued, deeply concerned.

When Amy Edwards of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Smyrna learned that the author was coming to visit her sisters in the Atlanta area, she acted expeditiously and arranged the reading of On Black Sisters’ Street, Unigwe’s novel. Using the book as a platform for the exposure of the rancid disease of selling humans, Edwards revealed the inconvenient truth that Atlanta is one of the top U.S. cities–and an infamous hub–for trafficking modern slaves.

The mother of four boys, Unigwe disquieted her fans as she revealed unsavory facts of legalized prostitution in European countries and the enslavement of thousands of Nigerian girls who are bonded to pimps and madams in Belgium for a minimum of five years.

According to Unigwe, “The daughters are given to men or are sold into slavery to women in the United States, Belgium, Italy, and other countries as long as the girls send money to Nigeria. Some of these girls want out, but they are bound and gagged by their parents’ need for the money they send. There have been reported incidents of pastors involved in the sale of humans.”

The condition reached an alarming proportion locally that it prompted Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin to launch the “Dear John” program in 2006. The Georgia General Assembly followed by passing HB 200, “Freedom from Human Trafficking Act,” in 2007 and revised it in 2011.

Despite local, national, United Nations, and other international laws, “The problem of human trafficking continues because of widespread corruption. A staff at Heathrow smuggled Nigerian girls into London through employee exit,” Unigwe narrated.

“As part of my research for my novel, and with my husband’s approval, I dressed as one of those girls on the streets in Antwerp to gather first-hand materials. The difference between European and Nigerian pimps is that European pimps control with drugs; Nigerian pimps use psychology.”

Edwards encouraged attendees to get involved by connecting with the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, Not For Sale, A Future Not a Past, and Street Grace.  These organizations are dedicated to awareness and prevention of child exploitation as well as to the restoration of victims. Any person can help by reporting any incidents or possible victims of child sex exploitation and human trafficking to the Georgia Care Connection Office.