I don’t know much about Nigeria.
However, I know what I like.
I like children going to school without being kidnapped by violent criminals bent on destroying their lives.
I don’t know much about Boko Haram, either.
However, I know what I don’t like.
I don’t like Boko Haram. That’s a recent dislike. A few weeks back, I had never heard of them.
On 14th April this year, a group of terrorists broke into a girls’ school in Chibok, in the remote state of Borno, in north-eastern Nigeria. They shot the guards and abducted more than 300 students, taking them off into the forest. Fortunately, a group of the girls, perhaps 50 in all, managed to escape, but not a single one of the remaining girls has been found yet.
At first, no one admitted carrying out the mass kidnapping, although it is assumed to be the work of Boko Haram. Later, the Police and government of Nigeria were sure of that. Boko Haram is the man who kidnapped 276 schoolgirls between 8 and 15 of age. He is the man who thinks that girls shouldn’t go to school: in his opinion, girls should stay at home and get married as soon as possible.
The kidnapped girls’ mothers are crying or are praying for the release of their girls. “We are deeply in sorrow”, said Mary, whose 16-year-old-daughter is missing, “Everyday I’m in deep sorrow”. Desperate parents have entered the forest themselves, armed only with bows and arrows, looking for their missing children.
The situation in Nigeria, in particular in the state of Borno, is difficult: the crisis is not any random act of God, it’s human made. In February, Boko Haram murdered 59 students. Chibok, a small city, is deeply troubled: the school had been closed for weeks before the kidnapping. However, the girls had come back to school to take an exam. Michelle Obama, the American first lady, said: “They were so determined to move to the next level of their education… so determined to one day build careers of their own and make their families and communities proud”.
All the world wants to help the kidnapped young girls: the United States, Britain, France and, most recently, also Israel has offered to lend their experts to help in the search for the girls.
In the meantime this story has caught the attention of the media and Mrs Obama spoke instead of the US president for the first time and she said that both her husband and her were “outraged and heartbroken” over the abduction; “what happened in Nigeria is not an accident… It’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambition”. She also said “in these girls, Barak and I see our own daughters. WE see their hopes, their dreams, we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now”.
A few weeks after the abduction, the first lady tweeted a picture of herself holding a placard with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign hashtag. After the example of Mrs Obama, many famous people tweeted their hashtags, too. The idea that the world can be changed with a twitter hashtag is often and rightly ridiculed. However, it can be useful to avoid media indifference. It seems unbelievable that so many people can be hidden away!
So, I feel despair that there are such evils in the world, and what is more, that such evils can be carried out unpunished.
Surely I hope the Nigeria government is doing everything possible to let the girls come back home again.
Surely I feel terrified at the thought of how the girls are suffering right now and disgusted by the fact that their poor parents had to go into the forest looking for their daughters on themselves.
But, mainly, I feel powerless, one more powerless person among millions of others powerless people.
However, I don’t want to cry or be angry, I only want to pray for these girls who are alone and certainly frightened; if I could talk to them right now, I’d tell them to be strong, and that there’s a little spark in them that will let them shine in the sky like fireworks.