I heard Chimamanda Adichie once say “Many stories matter, stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but they can also be used to empower and to humanize; stories can be used to break a people, but stories can also be used to repair broken dignity”. I don’t know what this narrative will do for you, but my aim is to make people be more aware of what is happening closer to home and start speaking out against some of these injustices.
Last week, the world witnessed the death of 17 people in an attack by an extremist group in France. That same week and ironically on the same day, an Islamist group attacked Baga, a town in Borno State. One attack was the headline on almost all news channels and social media while the other was barely acknowledged even by the inhabitants of its Nation. I believe this begs the question why?
Before I continue, I think its appropriate to give some hard facts about the Baga attack. Reports had it that men believed to be members of the Boko Haram sect seized a key military base(one of the largest, if not the largest military base in the town) on January 3rd. Then on January 7th, the gunmen struck again, this time killing mostly women, children and the elderly people who couldn’t get away fast enough. Survivors are beginning to tell stories of how their loved ones were slaughtered in front of them like rams. Amnesty International described it as the group’s “deadliest massacre” till date.
Before I ask why the world isn’t talking about this, I want to know why Nigerians are not talking about this. It is appalling to note that a majority of our media outlets didn’t broadcast this news until the international networks started talking about it. How can we expect the international community to cover the news when there was little or no local acknowledgement.
When the activities of Boko Haram started constituting a menace in this country, many of us were lax because we felt they were confined to specific regions. Now, they have graduated to invading, killing, seizing and advancing. Currently, it is estimated that they control about 70% of Borno state and have displaced about 1.5 million people since they commenced their nefarious activities.
The disheartening thing is when a carnage like this takes place, people are quick to point fingers and get consumed with minute and inconsequential details instead of the actual deed. For instance, in this attack, a report came in that 2000 people were killed, the very first thing the spokesperson for the Government had to say even before talking about the ongoing military attempt to take back the town was that the figure was just “speculation and conjecture”. I mean, it might be exaggerated, but the fact is human lives were lost, be it 150, 200 or 2000, bottom line is, people died or have we come to the point where the level of our response should be measured by the number of casualties involved?
Now that the world is done with showing solidarity to France and our key Government officials are done with re-tweeting “Je suis Charlie”, maybe, just maybe, the lives lost and the lives affected can start having a little meaning to those that matter.
Will just end this with the words of Simon Allison, “I am Charlie, but I am Baga too”….