Thursday, December 24, 2015

Honouring Bukola Oriola

I have heard, with much delight, that President Barack Obama has appointed Bukola Oriola to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Bukola is a Nigerian-born woman living in Minnesota. I have known her from 2009 when I first met her. Before then, I knew only her name from an African community newspaper published in Minnesota.

One day, I read a statement she made that she had written a book manuscript but didn't know how to get it published. Having self published two books, I felt the urge to help her. I called her, even though we did not know each other, and I told her I had read her statement and wanted to help her publish her book.

Bukola came to St. Olaf College, and I showed her how to publish online. Soon thereafter, she published  Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim. We kept in touch, and I invited her to the Twin Cities Book Festival which was held on October 10, 2009, so she could see the kind of work writers do after publishing a book. The photo on the left shows the two of us at my table.

The book facilitated Bukola's work of conveying to the public her message about human trafficking. In addition to giving talks to various audiences, she started a television program as well as a non profit organization, The Enitan Story.

Bukola is a passionate advocate for the victims of human trafficking, while fostering people's awareness of this global problem. I am impressed and inspired by her work. I recall how I first contacted her, how we met, and what she wrote in the acknowledgement section of her book:

     I would also like to thank those who worked with me to get this book published. My profound gratitude goes to Prof. Joseph Mbele of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, who showed me how to get my book published, otherwise it would have been another Word Document on my computer. It would have not been able to give the message of hope to the hopeless. God bless you sir.

President Obama's selection of Bukola is a great honour to her. I have witnessed the excitement it has generated in Minnesota, around the USA, and, in a special way, in Nigeria. Bukola sees in all this the workings of destiny. She believes that the suffering she underwent as a victim of human trafficking was part of God's plan to prepare her for her mission. You can hear her in this interview:

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