With Europe‘s refugee crisis taking over the world’s attention, the crisis in northeastern Nigeria slips below the headlines even though the Boko Haram terrorists have displaced 1.5 million people who are unable to leave an area that is pockmarked with burnt villages and destroyed schools.
It is these “displaced people” that Princess Modupe Ozolua is hoping to assist with a fundraiser in Atlanta at the Besharat Gallery on Saturday evening April 30 where she has assembled 20 pieces of art created by some of her country’s foremost artists.
Ms. Ozolua is a princess of the royal family of the Benin Empire, a pre-colonial empire located in what is now southern Nigeria – not to be confused with the modern-day country called Benin, formerly Dahomey.
One of the most powerful African empires during the 15th and 16th centuries, it remains famous today because of the bronze sculptures that were taken by British colonialists and that have been acquired by museums around the world desirous of having them in their collections due to their craftsmanship.
The empire was located in the land area now known as Edo state in the southern part of the country where most of its inhabitants speak the Edo language.
But her initiative is not geared toward her ancestral homeland. Ms. Ozolua told Global Atlanta that the April 30 event is an initiative of a 501c3 foundation that she has created out of a sense of responsibility to help the displaced persons now living in squalid camps or in their home villages that have been laid to waste far to the north of Edo State.
Her foundation, Empower 54, referring to the 54 countries of Africa, is focused on the plight of the victims of Boko Haram, and has provided sewing machines to women so that they can make clothes for their livelihoods, has been helping with the rebuilding of schools so children can continue their educations which have been disrupted by the terrorists and providing seedlings to farmers to that they can start farming again.
According to UNICEF, the militant Islamist group operating in Cameroon and Chad as well as Nigeria, has been increasing its use of child bombers over the last year with one in five suicide attacks now committed by children. The U.N.’s child agency says that young girls once drugged are often used on behalf of Boko Haram’s suicide missions.
Ms. Ozolua said that she knows the United States well because she attended college in Los Angeles, and has traveled in much of the country.
She decided on Atlanta for the fundraiser because she knew of the work of MedShare, the medical supply recovering organization in DeKalb County, and that the city has an established Nigerian community including a consulate general.
She also knew of Atlanta from Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of the Anglican Church of South Africa, who taught at Emory University‘s Candler School of Theology for two years and who has agreed to serve on her foundation’s board of directors.
The city of Atlanta is joining her foundation in hosting the evening at the Besharat Gallery. To reach Ms. Ozolua send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org