When I first heard of the militant group Boko Haram’s horrific kidnapping of nearly 300 girls from Chibok, Nigeria (276 girls from Chibok and more from other villages), I prayed. I prayed because I felt powerless. I prayed because I, too, have daughters and, right down to my very core, I felt shaken. Completely unable to move or think or reason. They kidnapped school girls? My God. How can you possibly resolve that? How can a mother or a father or any human resolve that horrific fact?
I kept seeing the fathers and brothers of the girls on motorcycles and mini-bikes trying in vain to follow the kidnappers, thwarted by the Mandara Mountains’ difficult terrain. I kept seeing the mothers huddled together, waiting for word.
And, then, in the way that I do, my thoughts feathered out to include the atrocities of Columbine, and 911, and Newtown, and the Boston Marathon bombing , and Joseph Kony, and the young girls who were kidnapped and held captive by Ariel Castro, and human trafficking and on and on and on. My mind kept spinning and whirling. And I couldn’t stop thinking about what could happen to those girls.
And I still can’t stop thinking about it.
These kidnappings are nothing new in Nigeria. In an NPR interview, Michelle Faul, the Nigeria bureau chief for the Associated Press, pointed out that Boko Haram’s has used this tactic, if that’s what you want to call it, in the past.
FAUL: Absolutely. Two weeks before the kidnappings at Chibok, 25 young girls were taken from a town called Konduga. They’re still out there. They’re still probably held captive, and nobody is hearing about them. We have a new set of girls who were kidnapped. This happened on Monday night – 11 girls. These are much younger than the other ones. These girls are age 12 to 15. And this comes right after the Boko Haram leader said in a video that he got to journalists, that he was going to kidnap girls as young as 9 years old. He said that these girls will be his slaves, and that he will sell them into slavery. He said: There’s a market for them, and I know it.
Unfortunately, it’s a pattern the world had decided to ignore.
What does it say about us when there’s no international outrage over the kidnapping of 25 young girls? Eleven girls? And what does it say that there is a ‘market’ for these girls?
What does all of this say about our civilized society? Too much to process in one little blog post, that’s for sure. But, I have to ask, why did it take until Wednesday to send US military advisers to Nigeria?
So, yeah, I’m outraged. So what? So the world is outraged. So what? How can I and the vast majority of westerners, be absolutely horrified at this while turning a blind eye to the slaughter of over 5 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? And, by the way, much of that killing has been a result of the interventions there by the Rwandan regime of President Paul Kagame (one of Washington’s closest allies on that continent).
Is it just all too much? Does it bring you to your knees? Does it make you, like me, want to turn off the radio, put down the paper, click to a mindless update on the Kardashians (to be fair, I’m not assuming that you, intelligent reader, follow the Kardashians)?
What can we do? We can raise our voices. We can write and post and share. We can go to rallies. In fact, there will be a rally at the Daley Plaza tomorrow, Saturday, May 10, at 12 noon.
If you feel helpless, if you feel the way I do, come out tomorrow. Feel, in a very significant way, that your voice matters.
Because it does.
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