KCKCC faculty member releases memoir

by Kelly Rogge
A Kansas City Kansas Community College faculty member has released his memoir, depicting his time as a Biafran child soldier who rises to become an American-educated professor.

“Dear God, Never Again: Memoirs of a Different Child Soldier,” is written by Ewa Unoke, associate professor of political science. pre-law, and peace studies and director of the Henry M. Louis Center for Global Transitional Justice. Unoke holds a doctorate degree. Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC, the book was written by Unoke after several people suggested the idea.

“My life is an example that child soldiers, street gangsters and kidnapped children like the Bring Back Our Girls victims in Nigeria, can be saved, educated and reintegrated into society as useful citizens,” Unoke said on a recent speaking engagements at Park University and Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan.

“I was also kidnaped during my youth by the same northern Muslims, but I survived. However, despite life’s many turning moments, another life is still possible even when past injustices refuse to lie down quietly and rest,” he said.

Unoke has shared his story numerous times including in 2005 at KCKCC’s Intercultural Center. Titled, “From Africa to America: a Brief Personal Journey,” the talk focused on his journey from child soldier to college professor and was one of the first times he spoke about his past publicly.

Then in 2009, Radhika Coomaraswanmy, then the United Nations under-secretary for children in armed conflicts, made a similar request while visiting the Dole Institute at the University of Kansas. Since then, Unoke has been invited by high schools and colleges throughout the United States to speak to students including those in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Pa., Chicago, Ill. and San Francisco, Calif. as well as locally in communities in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

A book launching and signing event is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the Intercultural Center on the KCKCC main campus, 7250 State Ave. The public is invited to attend. Public schools and colleges can now buy the book directly from the publisher or contact Unoke to share his inspirational story with their students.

In addition, Tate Publishing has scheduled Unoke to speak in local libraries, bookstores and on radio and television programs locally and nationally in the coming weeks and months.

For more information about “Dear God, Never Again: Memoirs of a Different Child Soldier,” contact Professor Ewa Unoke at eunoke@kckcc.edu or by calling 913-563-8586.

Book excerpt:

“My students and friends in the United States ask me:
• As a former child soldier, did you amputate people’s hands and legs?
• As commander of BOFF, what atrocities did you commit?
• Is it true Biafran children were deliberately starved to death?
• Like the Nigerian jihadists, did you kill or kidnap school girls during the war?
• Can you tell us your childhood pains and pleasures?
My response usually is, “Wait until you read my memoirs.”

KCKCC to celebrate 92nd annual Candlelighting Ceremony

by Kelly Rogge

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s oldest tradition is returning this week, honoring the holiday season while raising funds for scholarships at the same time.

The 92nd annual Candlelighting Ceremony is at 9 and 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, in the KCKCC Performing Arts Center on the main campus, 7250 State Ave. Classes will not be held during the 11 a.m. lighting, so that all personnel and students, who wish, can participate in the program. However, the Jewell Center, KCKCC Library and all offices will be open during those hours to serve individuals who choose not to participate in the ceremony.

“The purpose of this event is to celebrate the end of semester and the start of the holiday season,” said Linda Sutton, director of student activities at KCKCC. “It is also a good way to support student scholarships.”

All classes that are scheduled to begin at noon will start 10 minutes after the program has ended to allow students and faculty to time to get to their classrooms.

KCKCC faculty members started the Candlelighting Ceremony in 1923, the year KCKCC was founded. It remains the oldest tradition at KCKCC and serves as an opportunity for students, staff and faculty to celebrate the upcoming holiday season. During that first year, a collection was taken to fund student scholarships. This tradition has continued and over the years, more than $10,000 has been collected for student scholarships at KCKCC. Donations are free will, and members of the Student Senate will be at the doors to the performing arts center with red baskets to accept donations.

At both of the ceremonies, the KCKCC bands and choirs as well as theatre students will perform. There will also be a speaker, Ismael Garcia, at the 11 a.m. service. There is no speaker at the 9 a.m. service. Each service will conclude with holiday carols and the lighting of the candles.

“It’s a tradition that connects the college to its beginning 92 years ago,” Sutton said. “Many people from the community look forward and enjoy this event because they enjoy hearing the band, choir and theatre students. Many retired employees attend as well.”

For more information on the Candlelighting Ceremony, contact Linda Sutton at 913-288-7652 or by email at lsutton@kckcc.edu.

Kelly Rogge is the public information supervisor at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

KCKCC women rebound from first loss with win over Dodge City

by Alan Hoskins

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s unbeaten women’s basketball season came to an end Friday but it took the No. 2 ranked team in Division I to do it.

Playing on their home court where they had not lost a game in 104 starts, Hutchinson’s unbeaten Lady Blue Dragons pulled away in the second half for an 83-55 win in the Hutchinson Classic at the Hutchinson Sports Arena. The win was also the Blue Dragons’ 23rd in a row over a Jayhawk East opponent.

However, the Lady Blue Devils, who are ranked No. 18 in Division II, bounced right back 18 hours later with an 84-69 win over Dodge City Saturday. The win boosted KCKCC’s record to 8-1 heading into the opening of Jayhawk Conference play Saturday when Labette comes to KCKCC for a doubleheader at 2 and 4 p.m.

KCKCC never trailed against Dodge City although the lead at halftime was only 40-36. The Blue Devils pulled away in the second half behind 51.6 percent shooting and a 55-47 advantage on the boards that offset 25 turnovers and a 40-point assault by Dodge City guard Azaria Nave.

Four Blue Devils scored in double figures led by Janai Mitchell, who dominated the rebounding with a career high 14 along with 10 points; and Cheyenne North, who just missed a double double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Cierra Gaines added 16 points, Iland Shurn a season high 12 off the bench and Erin Anderson eight points. The Blue Devils also got a big floor game from Cassidy Harbert, who had 11 assists, five points and six rebounds.

Hutchinson (8-0) needed a 26-3 second run to get away from the Blue Devils Friday. KCKCC cut an 11-point halftime deficit to 46-40 with 13 minutes left in the second half only to have the Blue Dragons score the next 11 in a row to ignite the decisive 26-3 run.

The Blue Dragons were led by a trio of lanky international standouts – 6-2 forward Kalani Purcell of New Zealand and 6-1 Clemence LeFebvre of France each had 19 points and 6-1 freshman Cynthia Petke of Cameroon had 14 points and 15 rebounds. The trio also combined for 29 rebounds in leading Hutch to a 49-26 rebounding edge over the smaller Blue Devils, who were without a 6-foot starter.

Cierra Gaines was the lone Blue Devil in double figures, scoring 17 points including five three-pointers. Cassidy Harbert and Aricca Daye added seven points each for the Blue Devils, who were just 18-of-60 from the field for a chilly 30 percent. Hutch, meanwhile, was 15-of-22 the second half for a sizzling 68.2 percent and .519 for the game.
Alan Hoskins is the sports information director at KCKCC.