About Me

I was born in Wallsend, grew up on Hillsview Avenue in Kenton and went to Kenton School before studying Electrical Engineering in London. I have lived in many different cities around the world, without ever for a moment forgetting where I am from: Newcastle. My values and beliefs were formed in Newcastle based on the people I grew up with and my own experiences.”

My family

My maternal grandfather was a sheet metal worker in the shipyards of the Tyne during the depression. My mother grew up in poverty in Garth Heads on the quayside. In the fifties she married my father, a Nigerian student at Newcastle Medical School. In 1965 I was born, whilst they were living in Long Benton where my father had a dental practise. I was still a baby when my father took us to live in Awka, Nigeria. .But two years later the Biafran Civil War broke out bringing famine with it and, as described vividly in an Evening Chronicle article in 1968, my mother, my brother and sister and I returned as refugees to Newcastle, whilst my father stayed on in the Biafran army.

This early experience of the impact of war on ordinary families left me with a strong sense of my own good fortune in living in a peaceful parliamentary democracy where it is possible to bring about change without taking up the gun or the sword. I am not a pacifist, I believe that our country is worth defending and fighting for. But we do live in a democracy and, increasingly, there are international institutions at the European and global level to enable us to pursue and defend our legitimate interests through debate and discussion.

My education

I benefited from a comprehensive, inspirational and free education for which I will always be grateful. I attended Hillsview nursery, infants and junior schools. A good start in a good school is critical in determining a child’s experience of education and the opportunities that it can bring. At Hillsview I learnt to enjoy learning, and to think that anything was possible. My mother made sure I understood how lucky I was to be able to walk two hundred yards to a great school when some children had to walk for hours to share a classroom with a hundred others.

At 11 I went to Kenton Comprehensive School. I studied for my O and A levels, but also played for our netball and hockey teams, had my first taste of public speaking and learnt to play the saxophone moderately badly. My education enabled me to hold my own with people from every walk of life, and to earn my living doing something I love, engineering. I want every child in Newcastle to have that opportunity. When I was 17 I was elected Kenton School’s MP in a mock election.

My working life

Newcastle’s great industrial past was my inspiration to become an engineer and I enjoyed a fulfilling career in engineering after I graduated from Imperial College in 1987. I worked in hardware and software development, product management, market development and strategy for a variety of mainly private sector companies in a number of different countries – UK, France, US, Nigeria, Denmark..During this time I also studied for an MBA from Manchester Business School and gained Chartered Engineering status. As an engineer I specialised in building out infrastructure in new markets and standardising wholesale Ethernet access. My last role before entering parliament was as head of Telecoms Technology for Ofcom the Communications Regulator

My interests

I have always campaigned for the causes I believed in. As a student I campaigned against the Federation of Conservative Students at Imperial College. Later I was very active in the Anti Apartheid Movement, and spent many years on its National Executive, and that of its successor organisation, ACTSA. Anti apartheid was one of the most successful popular movements ever and undermines the claims of those that believe real people are never interested in politics. People are interested in the politics that matters to them. Before being selected as Labour’s candidate for Newcastle I was on the Advisory Board of the Open University Business School, reflecting my belief in educational opportunity at every stage in life and for every level of ability.

Outside of politics and work I enjoy music, reading and long walks in the countryside.

15 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Onwurah George Arinze

    I am very much interesting to know you better and also have a moment with you. Since I meet you in the social network , I was so enthusiasm in every thing you twitte. I which you will give me that opportunity to know you better. Thanks. I remain George.

  2. samuel olusegun

    It great to read about you and to see that there is success at the end of the tunnel. My children are quite young and your story is an encouragement to us raising up children here. God bless you

  3. Rebecca Stell

    Dear Madam,

    I felt moved to write to you after reading that you have specifically spoken out about the demonisation of benefit claimants. As a disabled writer and activist it is something I also do constantly and as a resident in the North East and a great believer in the kindness and ethics so often displayed by people born in the area, I was cheered immensely to read your firm denunciation of the current situation.

    I share your disgust at the posters advocating the reporting of “benefit cheats” and only a few days ago I commented how sad it was to see them on the buses and telephone booths in such a tolerant and generous city as Newcastle, one of the few places which l as a disabled person still feel comfortable visiting. I too have experience of the stigma of being on benefits and although I am not a Newcastle constituent being resident in Hexham constituency, I feel moved to express my support and gratitude for your championship of the right to freedom from harassment and unfair sanctions.

    What I find most odious is that whilst claiming the moral high ground, this Government encourages the baser aspects of human nature in the form of spying on ones neighbour when in the vast majority of cases such reports for fraud are shown to be ill-informed error at best or downright malicious perjury.

    As an alumnus of both the University of Southampton and of the Open University, I too have always been extremely grateful for the support and encouragement which enabled me to take both an undergraduate degree and a Masters despite my increasing ill-health and that the barriers which might have been placed in my way as a disabled student were so willingly smoothed over. Having experienced the freedom from abuse and stigma which an excellent higher education institution can give, I am appalled by the inequality and lack of support within the labour market and particularly within the DWP regime when a far better way is possible.

    Sadly tomorrow marks the anniversary of my nephew’s death by suicide. Whilst studying for his degree in architecture at Newcastle, he was diagnosed with bipolar and began to claim disability benefit to help with the additional costs of his illness. However, an error by the Student Loans Company led to his being called to attend a DWP financial review and the additional stress and worry this caused him whilst both his parents were out of work led to him ending his life. In both my case and his talented lives are being wasted by red tape, prejudice and demonisation rather than support and adequate provision.

    Once again may I thank you for your support of those who have seen so very little support in the last few years. Should we ever find ourselves living within your constituency it would be my pleasure to offer my services as a canvasser or constituency worker.

    Kindest Regards

    Rebecca Stell (B.A. Hons., M.A)

  4. EMMANUELA SHOLA MARTINS

    I was so happy when I heard your name on parliament of 12 January house of common on issue of boko haram. Its just very clear that the top politicians must have hands in the atrocities of boko haram and the only things England and other western countries can do is to put persistent pressure on Nigeria government, Nigeria government can do it because it knows Nigeria better, they should come up with research and logistics that will fish out the boko haram sponsors and godfather and that will be the end of the game. But I bet you they will not want to try to that extent because all the Nigerian politician have skeleton in their cupboard, criminals in one way or the other.
    Thanks.

  5. Christine Dixon

    Are you going to push for an Investigation into the Grooming of children that has been happening in the West End of Newcastle to see if is as large as the Rottheram Grooming case?

    Also to see if it has been covered up as said case was it is no good standing with a piece of card saying Racism out if Crimes are being committed because people are afraid to speak out through the Fear of being called Racist

  6. carly

    As my local MP I am glad you voted in favour of investigations into historical paedophilia. What is going to happen now though? Why are people with power aloud to be hidden from the truth? As a government who are just supposed to be acting within the people’s best interest a lot of them seem quite happy with manipulating us and hiding behind masks. It’s not right though isn’t there something we as a nation can do to expose these monsters that have hurt and depraved the innocence of children for decades now. I am sorry I am bothering you with this but it seems the media don’t care to report on it to protect national security, if children have no protection and no voice national security has already failed the people who deserve to be protected the most and I really don’t see the point in wasting any more money on it.
    Thank you for your time.

  7. Jack crane

    Hi Chi,

    I was disappointed to read that you attended a lavish dinner arranged and paid for by arms dealer (Independent, Fri 6 Feb). I would like to know what your motivations were. I do not feel that the arms trade is something any politician should be involved in.
    As my MP I am asking you to vote against further air strikes in Syria. Killing results in more killing. Enough people have already been killed by the weapons made by the people who paid for your dinner. Don’t you see the connection here?
    Looking forward to your reply.

    Regards

    Jack

  8. Obinna

    Dear Chi,

    Regarding your recent visit to Nigeria, was there any attempt to address the unending and widespread issue of gross human rights abuses by the Nigerian army? While the reckless killing of hundreds of Shia Muslims late 2015 is still fresh, military personnel have continued to carry out unprovoked attacks on innocent citizens for peacefully exercising their rights to self-determination and agitating for a sovereign country- Biafra. These brazen killings and arrests of protesters seem to have the backing of the federal government in Nigeria.

    With the persistent call for an independent Biafran nation, I plead with you to use your good office to pressure the Nigerian government to organize a free and fair referendum, just like was done in the United Kingdom a few years back. Some of your colleagues (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/808) are already involved in helping to find a peaceful and civil solution to widespread discontent pertaining to the current structure of Nigeria. Given your Nigerian background, you are even in a better position to appeal for a common sense approach in determining our collective destiny as one country. Only a free and fair referendum can answer this question.

    Thank you for your time.

    Best wishes,

    Obinna

    1. Chi Office

      Dear Obinna

      Chi asked me to thank you for taking time to email her about this very serious matter.

      However there are strict parliamentary protocols which only allow a Member of Parliament to take up the concerns of their own constituents.

      Can you therefore let me have your full address?

      Yours sincerely,

      Tony Bone

      Sent on behalf of Chi Onwurah
      Office of Chi Onwurah MP
      Newcastle Central
      Suit 24, 7-15 Pink Lane
      Newcastle upon Tyne
      NE1 5DW

      Tel 0191 232 5838
      Twitter ChiOnwurah

      Catch up with Chi’s constituency and parliamentary work by subscribing to her newsletter via web-site at http://chionwurahmp.com/category/keeping-you-informed/

  9. Chima Kelechi

    I’m glad you’re NIGERIAN and that your father did well to install that in you by bringing you all back to his motherland to experience it all. Your Dad fought hard by refusing to abandon his nation and the territorial duties involved which include risking his LIFE. He served in the liberation army to be redeemed and to make his people great in the face of a Fulani led invasion to occupy and destroy the Igbo people. I’m not in support of a new sovereign government neither are my backing the ‘infused hatred’. But I would want you and the British government to look seriously into the case of Nigeria and renew the once lost hope of the innocent. Let us make perfect, the world and deal diligently with evil men who come as politicians to spread violenc and cause pains. Let the cream de la cream take a good look into the allege killings of innocent lives by horsemen and the forceful take over of their community of which my dear president in courtesy of Gen. Buhari has failed to work on.
    God bless you…

  10. Eric Nwabueze Aririsukwu

    I admire your energy to excel from childhood. Indeed it takes persistence and courage to attain the height you are today. You are a role model I desire my little daughter your name sake should look up to. The positive impact you have made and continually making speaks for itself and we are proud to know that our origin has a trace in you. I will be delighted to assist in any capacity to ensure that this peaceful and divine vision to carry inside you is fully represented. We in Newcastle are so proud of you, stay and remain blessed.

  11. Alex Luker

    Are you the only MP who is also a Chartered Engineer?

    This country would run so much better with engineers at the helm. Sadly we’re often too busy to take up politics: well done, you are a credit to us all.

    Best Regards

    Alex Luker
    BEng(Hons) CEng FCIBSE

  12. Tony Riley

    Such a shame that your beliefs about Israel are straight out of the Livingstone/Jezzbollah handbook. If you read some history books about the Arab/Israeli conflict before commenting further on this matter, you will avoid looking foolish in the future.

    Are you even aware that Hamas has started 3 wars with Israel in the last 10 years, and that its leaders live in luxury in Qatar, where they invest the tax revenues from the thousands of tonnes of goods that Israel transports through the Erez Crossing every week, in Real Estate deals with their partners, the owners of al jazeera?

    If you really cared about Palestinians, you would urge them to accept the existence of Israel, and finally accept that Palestine has lost all of the wars that it started against Israel.

    You should also encourage Palestinians to stop the legal murder of Gays, and the “Honour Killings” of women fleeing from forced marriages. Unless you agree with these practices, of course.

  13. Maggie Tedd

    Dear Ms Onwurah I have read your blog in the NS. I am writing to express my concerns about the serious allegations you make about racist, sexist and disability discrimination. I believe the Labour Party does have channels and mechanisms where you can lodge a formal complaint. I recall that Ken Livingston has recently been investigated about antisemitic comments. These racist behaviours are very serious and I hope to hear from you that you have indeed made a formal complaint. As a country our public domains still have a long way to go with regards to such abhorrent behaviours. Institutional discriminations are insidious and destructive and not to be treated lightly.
    I hope to hear from you in due course
    Kind Regards
    Maggie Tedd

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