The Legendary Uli Women of Nigeria
The Legendary Uli Women of Nigeria
Their Life Stories in Signs, Symbols, and Motifs
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Dr. Robin Renee Sanders, having lived in Africa for several years, was always struck by the ancestral, socio-historical and educational aspects of certain African cultural practices, especially languages, artifacts, and sign and symbol systems from the Ovahimba in Namibia and Pygmies in Congo, to the Horom, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, and Fulani of Nigeria. Her experiences on the Continent made her appreciate each and every culture and "its information systems," which in the end she called "communication expressions."

The book follows eight extraordinary Nigerian women in the December phase of their lives as they try to preserve the meanings of their endangered sign, symbol, and motif system called Uli (oo-lee). Uli is an acknowledgement of their Igbo history, culture and ancestors. Sanders agrees with others scholars who posit that non-text, non-oral forms of communication expressions such as Nigeria's Uli, and other sign and symbol systems throughout the world, particularly in Africa, are just as important or "viable" as the written word and their meanings should be respected and preserved. Endangered cultural practices, like Uli, are just as important to protect as endangered languages as a symbolic relationship exists between the two.

Ambassador (Dr.) Robin Renee Sanders is CEO of the FEEEDS® Advocacy Initiative and FE3DS, LLC which work on economic development and business strategies for Africa. Prior to this, she served as the U.S.Ambassador to several countries Nigeria and Republic of Congo) and U.S. Permanent Representative to the West African Regional Organization, ECOWAS. As an academic while in the U.S. Diplomatic Service, Dr. Sanders was the International Affairs Advisor and Deputy Commander of the Eisenhower College of the National Defense University. A noted international lecturer, she has taught International and African Affairs, National Security Strategies, Conflict Resolution, and Human Cultural Communication. Other areas of expertise are democratic processes, food security, education, and the environment. Sanders served twice as Africa Director at the White House National Security Council, and a Visiting Scholar for the CIC Woodrow Wilson Program. Her business expertise lies in agriculture, aviation security, housing, ICT, and Small-Medium Enterprises.Ambassador Sanders serves on the U.S.Trade Representative and U.S. EXIM Africa Committees; is a member of the prestigious Academy of Diplomacy; and, is a regular Africa subject matter expert for Al Jazeera America.

Dr. Sanders holds a Doctor of Science degree from Pittsburgh's Robert Morris University (RMU); Masters of Art and Masters of Science degrees in International Relations, Africa Studies, and Communications, respectively from Ohio University; and, a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Hampton University. Sanders' FEEEDS® Advocacy Initiative heads the U.S. Office of Songhai Integrative Farms Systems and works on the key global issues of food security, education, environment-energy, economics, development and self-help, or what Sanders calls the FEEEDS issues. Boards and Awards: RMU and Smithsonian African Art Museum trustee; Human Rights Watch; Operation Hope; Joint Chiefs of Staff Civilian Honor Award; 3 State Department Superior Awards;4 State Department Meritorious Awards; "Medal of Honor" from President of Republic of Congo; citations in Who's Who in America; Africa Advocacy Impact, and Diaspora Leader Award for FEEEDS® and,member of the U.S. National Scholar Society for her public policy and academic work. Sanders' articles can be found on:,, or follow on
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"Ambassador Sanders imaginatively combine phenomenology and ethnographic methods to shine light on a world treasure worthy of both scholarly exploration and cultural amplification. Her scholarship, a mixture of style and substance, voyeuristically grants us access to the lives of the legendary Uli women of Nigeria thus reinforcing the beauty and power of the blackness of the diaspora. Like the women in the stories she chronicles, this work is legendary." - Dr. Rex L. Crawley, Assistant Dean School of Communication and Information Systems, Robert Morris University Pittsburgh, PA, and Endowed Chair, Uzuri Research Center of African American Male Educational Success
"Her care and admiration for the Uli heritage is profound and informs her continued assistance since leaving Nigeria to some of the Uli scholars and practitioners in Igbo land. Her approach to Uli in this book as a "communication expression" is groundbreaking and brings enormous insight to the study of Uli and the general discourse on ethno-aesthetics." - Dr. C. Krydz Ikwuemesi, Associate Professor, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Emeritus President, The Art Republic, Nigeria, and Painter, Art Critic, Ethno-aesthetician
"As an expert in international relations and inter-cultural communications, Ambassador Sanders' ground-breaking research illustrates the importance of preserving ancient and traditional methods of communication for the next generation. In our constantly connected digital world, it is critical books like this that remind us that communication is so much more than just the written or spoken word." - Dr. Philip Kim, Assistant Professor of Business, Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio
"Not only does Dr. Sanders' work present a one-of-a-kind exploration of Uli, it also provides a glimpse into the lives of eight remarkable Nigerian women who practice this vanishing communication expression. Be prepared to have your eyes opened by Ambassador Sanders' work and amazed by the cultural importance of Uli and the strength and dedication of these inspirational women! "- Dr. Cory S. Maloney, Director of Online Programming, Associate Professor of Business, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio
"Ambassador Sanders always took time and paid special attention to understanding and learning about Nigeria's range of culture and cultural practices. I had the opportunity to travel with Dr. Sanders on many occasions and appreciate her insatiable desire to deeply explore and learn the culture and people across the length and breadth of Nigeria. I particularly respect her meticulous attention to a cultural practice or historical monument often forgotten or overlooked by the larger society." - Mukhtari Shitu, former political assistant and analyst, U.S. Embassy, Federal Republic of Nigeria

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