It was a widely publicized interview with Melinda Gates, wife of billionaire Bill Gates, that sparked a new vocation in the heart of a Nigerian biomedical scientist who realized God was calling her to fight for life on the continent of Africa.
The National Catholic Register is reporting on the story of Obianuju “Uju” Ekeocha, founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, who is leading a new charge to defend the sanctity of life against population controllers from the West who are promoting abortion and contraception throughout Africa. Having lived in Africa and Europe, Ekeocha is combining what she learned from the prolife movement in the West with her native knowledge about women’s health in Africa.
“I do know that the pro-life movement in America, in England, in Germany, in France [is working hard] — all these people are now working on a day-to-day basis to get different protections, restrictions, things like parental consent — in other words, trying to end abortion, but in steps and stages,” Ekeocha said. “So it’s quite different from what I do and how I concentrate on my work, because most of the African countries don’t actually have legal abortion.”
But that could end soon. “We are now fighting because a lot of the Western nations, which have had legal abortions for the last 30, 40, and even, in the case of the U.K., almost 50 years, have started putting pressure on African countries to legalize abortion," she said.
A lifelong Catholic who was born and raised in Nigeria, Ekeocha was working as a biomedical scientist in hematology at a hospital in the UK and never thought she had a role to play in the pro-life movement until she saw a show on CNN.
“ . . . [I]n 2012, by sheer Providence, I got to watch an interview that Melinda Gates, the wife of Bill Gates, had on CNN, when she was launching her big contraceptive project that was to change Africa and the language of population control forever,” Ekeocha said.
“She made it all about women’s well-being, even as she was pushing some of the most dangerous contraceptives that we have now on the market — some of the injectables. … I was quite disturbed by it and by the way she talked about it, as if this is the one thing that she believes that African women need.”
During the interview, Gates said she had made different trips to Kenya and said the women told her that they needed contraception more than anything else.
Something about that comment didn’t ring true.
“Having aunties and sisters and relatives who are in Africa — some are rich; some are poor; some are very educated; some are not educated at all — never in my life had I heard an African woman ask for contraceptives as the one thing she wants, or the first or primary thing that she needs for her life to be better," Ekeocha said.
Being an African woman herself, she decided to write Gates a letter – which quickly became known as “the open letter to Melinda Gates” - in which she suggested that instead of putting her money into contraceptives, to use it for things like school projects for women, good education for women, microbusiness training, chastity programs, NFP programs.
“I was just naming things that I felt would be more productive, if she really wanted, as she was claiming, to help women,” Ekeocha said.
She eventually sent the letter to EWTN host Teresa Tomeo of Catholic Connection, who read it on her show. From there, it went viral, eventually being picked up by the Pontifical Council for the Laity who published it on their website.
“Eventually, through that, I started helping to advise some of our Catholic bishops in Africa back in 2012; and then I started writing a bit more, blogging; and then I formed Culture of Life Africa as a small blogging platform where I could tell the world some of these things: the African values on openness to life, how we feel about family and motherhood.”
This led to her being invited to speak at some of the meetings at the United Nations.
“I started trying to learn more about some of the policies and resolutions that were being passed around Africa and some of the Western organizations that were coming to Africa to promote so-called reproductive rights,” Ekeocha said. “Organizations like International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) had already established, unbeknownst to me, and so many Africans, more than 11,000 centers all across the Sub-Saharan African region. They are promoting abortion and contraception; they are sterilizing people … and they are doing a lot of damage, I believe, to the African society.”
Ekeocha is asking for the faithful to “remember that if the culture of death is brought to Africans, who probably have some of the poorest populations in the world, that could actually bring our society down completely, to the point where we could never rise from it.”
She adds: “So I would implore people to think about that, and to pray for us, and also to talk to other people about it: that the African people be respected, especially where we already have these values. . . .already have our own separate culture — that people would work with us, and respect this part of our lives, and that we all walk together in this world, shoulder to shoulder . . .”
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