Bring Back Our Girls
As an increasing number of governments, like the Trudeau administration in Canada, place pronounced emphasis on the fate of women and girls in their global foreign aid and development commitments, such efforts will forever remain stained by the presence in Nigeria of hundreds of women and girls who have endured the worst of treatment by the worst of humanity with little international coordinated effort to rescue them.
Every day, the news through all its venues reaches us with increasing calls to humanity to rise to the occasion and effect change. Our great danger is the temptation to move from one issue to another, like a stone skipping over a quiet pond, instead of sticking to our original commitments, seeing them through to the end. Just such a cause occurred 842 days ago, when the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram captured 276 Nigerian schoolgirls, dragging them off into captivity and the kinds of horror that are too easy to imagine.
The Boko Haram insurgency has triggered one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa, which is engulfing northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. Communities in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger have also succumbed to fear, violence and displacement.
It's well known that there is strength in numbers and wisdom in crowds. But what if we're only seeing half the numbers and
One year later, what has #BringBackOurGirls accomplished? It didn't bring the girls home. Second-hand reports suggest that 57 of the girls escaped their captors, but the rest are still out there, likely sold off as child brides (or sex slaves). Recently, a UN official said there's evidence they may be dead. It's a sad illustration of the limitations of "clicktivism" -- the use of online media to advance causes. There must be a plan to engage supporters once they've clicked, and keep them engaged, even after the hashtag stops trending.
Instead of expecting socially relevant music or artistic works from mainstream artists, it is high time for us to give our support to cultural workers or artists whose songs and other productions are the voice of the voiceless.
It is time we all joined the UN chief's plea, and once again rallied to #bringbackourgirls from a terrorist organization that knows no bounds to its brutality. Join me as I call on Canada to work with the international community in addressing the ongoing violence threatening innocent women and children in Nigeria.
It has been over four weeks since the abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls and the world's attention on Nigeria has gradually faded. The placards have disappeared, government heads have played their role in once again pledging their "assistance" to Africa and mainstream media have done their part in disseminating selective pieces to a much bigger picture.
#BringBackOurGirls was a massively popular way of protesting in part because it was so simple. Most major celebrities, politicians and even conservative political pundits participated. It was all an impressive display that sadly overlooked the real solutions to dilemmas like the Nigerian kidnappings.
With every day that passes, the Nigerian schoolgirls could be moving further into dangerous territory of all kinds. Exploitation like the kinds they may be facing can have intensely disturbing effects on a child's social, emotional cognitive and spiritual well-being -- as well as their long-term development.