In the past week or more there have been reports of the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls who were about to write their final exams from their boarding school in Chibok in the northern province of Nigeria.
The response from African countries and the African Union was deafening, not a single head of state lent their voice to condemn these acts of terror. The response from the Nigerian government was a reflection of the apathy that prevails in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
The fact of the matter is that the focus of the Nigerian government was on their economy which is now the largest in Africa. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan wants his legacy to be the economy. Jonathan was in Abuja successfully hosting the World Economic Forum where the movers and shakers give their take on the trends and provide an outlook for the future. Jonathan was forging partnerships with Li Kegiang Premier of China among a host of others there in Abuja. The fact is that the North is not Jonathan’s main constituents highlighting why the response was sluggish.
It was an international embarrassment of magnanimous proportion when reports of Nigerian army running out of ammunition and being overpowered by the terrorists. A strong economy demands a strong army. What Nigeria needs is a strongman who will stamp out terrorism, extremism and any other isms once and for all while growing the economy and reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.
There are many families that send their girls to school with the hopes that they can create their own opportunities and change their destinies. In last four generations in many African villages they believed that it was a waste of money to educate the girl child because she would get married and benefit the husband’s family. It was a time when money was scarce under colonialism and priorities were usually the male child who carried the family name. As independence came and more doors opened for educating the girl child attitudes began to change even in the remotest places. Bare footed peasants would sell all that they had just so that their children could have a better life through education. Boarding school education in Africa and anywhere else is superior to day schooling as it allows laser focus on studies. It is this desire for their children to get a better education that the parents sent their girls despite threats by terrorists to stop educating the girls.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma the ANC Chairperson is silent about the plight of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. It is as if she is living under a rock, which is shameful. A woman with so much power but will not use her power to give voice to the voiceless. Whatever happened to African solutions to African problems? Where are the Africans preserving African lives?
To Dlamini- Zuma and other Africa who are apathetic about the Nigerian girls I give this poem written by Martin Niemoller a German who lived in Hitler’s Germany
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”