Like everyone else, I’m horrified at what has happened to these girls from Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. I’m appalled at the way the government has – or rather, has not – handled the matter.
But I’m also encouraged at the number of online petitions in many different countries, and the response of both the States and Britain in providing support. Thankfully, this terrible act is not being forgotten by the world’s media. I’m the first to complain about them: let me give credit where it’s due.
Boko Haram is a violent, merciless organisation intent on imposing Muslim Shari’a law in its harshest form in N Nigeria, which is largely Muslim anyway. They don’t stop at abducting schoolgirls, but plant bombs all over the country, including the capital Abuja, killing innocent civilians. They have now abducted more girls from a different school.
They recently released a video in which they boasted of what they had done. Their leader said that Allah was telling him to take these girls and make them into wives. That is their purpose: they should not be educated, and especially, they should not receive western-style education. ‘Boko Haram’ means ‘western education is forbidden’.
I would like them to tell us where in their holy book the Qu’ran their prophet Mohammed (BAPUH) licenses his followers to abduct and enslave young girls.
Then there is the reaction of the Nigerian government and the President, Goodluck Jonathan. He appears to have done nothing, and has resisted offers of help from the west for 3 weeks, although he is now in the process of accepting it. He says his government has been infiltrated by Boko Haram – this may sound like a feeble excuse to us, but he may well be right.
On top of this came the reaction of his wife, who offered to meet two of the leading mothers. She invited then to come to Abuja (a journey of 400 miles) and when they arrived, told one woman immediately that she would deal with her later. The woman was detained in custody.
I believe this story. These women have been at the forefront of criticising the government’s lack of action and specifically, the inertia of the President. You don’t criticise the elite in Nigeria and get away with it.
Fortunately, the woman was later released. But some of us can’t help wondering. If the media of the world had not taken up this story, if they had not headlined it time and again, if the actions of the President were not being scrutinised and criticised at a global level …
… would anything at all have been done? Or would the loss of the girls and the detention of the mother been allowed to sink into oblivion, like so much else?
There is also the behaviour of the army in the north. They too can be brutal and the way they have gone about the task of hunting down Boko Haram has caused a great deal of suffering and fear. I have found myself at gunpoint by members of the Nigeria army and we’ve experienced their methods at first-hand.
The terrorists will say, of course, that it’s none of our business. Who are we to point the finger? After all, we have persecuted Muslims in the past. Indeed, the help given by the States and our own country will simply be another nail in the coffin: by doing so, we are once more showing them that we are anti-Islam.
Meanwhile hundreds of young teenage girls are being terrified and abused, and thousands of people are being killed by Boko Haram bombs.
I have lived in N Nigeria, in Borno State. My heart goes out to those who suffer. And I feel so angry that so little has been done for the north for so long by corrupt governments who line their own pockets and do not address the dire poverty in so much of the country, and especially in the arid north.
I wish there were an easy answer, but there isn’t. Those of us who care about Nigeria have much to pray for.
(image from khaama.com)