Bring Back Our Girls!
The Me Firi Ghana Blog is a wonderful space where we celebrate the uniqueness of our homeland Ghana. However, it is also a place for intelligent conversation regarding events which resound with all of us, regardless of our National allegiance. A sounding board for members of our acclaimed team to give thought to issues which resonate with us.
As a young doctor, I am especially aware & grateful that I have been afforded educational tools to make the best of this life – tools that others may never have the chance to use. As a big brother to two young ladies who excel in education, I appreciate the grace they have in terms of being able to study and try and make it in this world without clamour, without fuss. Which is why a particular story agitated me as April began to gently fade into May:
Over 200 schoolgirls aged between 12-15 years of age were abducted from their boarding school in Nigeria by the notorious Boko Haram sect.
Initially, the social media campaign sparked because there seemed to be an indifference in the media regarding this matter. Major news outlets seemingly ignored the story altogether while the eyes of the world were focused on missing planes and sinking ships. The media loves a good old-fashioned hunt. When the daughter of two English doctors was snatched from their unsecured apartment a few years ago after being left unsupervised, the story was headline news for years. However when it came to finding these kidnapped African schoolgirls, the media were surprisingly slow to catch on (how surprisingly is arguable, but that’s another discussion for another day…).
Once the clamour reached fever pitch and the Western World’s media powerhouses began to appreciate the gravity of the situation, the true horrors of the story began to resonate. More than 50 girls had fortunately managed to escape. However, at least 17 girls had become sick. A number had passed away. Reports began to leak of the group being split up, with girls being offered at a bride-price of less than £10. £10… Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, who runs a shelter for girls who have been abducted by Kony’s notorious group in Uganda has stated ‘this is not marriage. They are being given into sex slavery. We should call evil by its name.’ Research suggests that the girls had probably been subjected to ‘extreme sexual violence’.
Let all of that simmer in the recesses of your mind and soul for a few seconds. Appreciate the rosy-tint, which had shielded you and aimed to grant you some comfort regarding this story, begin to fade unerringly into devastating black…
My issue once these horrifying details came out was that the naked horrors of the story triviallised initial attempts at what I saw as ‘bandwagoning’ by people posting up videos saying ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ as it was the ‘in-thing’ to do, without actually DOING anything – just like those who posted up ‘no-make-up-selfies’ without making any attempt to educate about breast cancer or providing any links to support the cause.
Now thankfully, instead of frivolous attempts at attracting more ‘likes’ on facebook and Instagram, we are seeing powerful and inspirational women all over the globe utilising the VOICE which social media has rendered a powerful weapon, to move the hands of governments to action – from US First Lady Michelle Obama, to Malala Yousafzai – the young Pakistani educational activist who survived a shot to the head at point blank range by Taliban as she boarded a school ; another example of education being seen as a privilege to be denied young women, rather than a human right.
The story of the Nigerian Schoolgirls resonates with me because all these girls were doing was to try and pursue an education. Something which the West sees as a human right, but unfortunately still remains a ‘privilege’ in many parts of Africa and as noted previously in other parts of the world too. Something which, even more heinously, is regarded by Boko Haram to be an abomination – a sect whose very name means ‘Western Education Is Forbidden’. How feeding our young women intellectually could ever be a crime is beyond me. Why you would steal them away and cut short their progress in their pursuit to become something in this world other than a sex object is breathtakingly inconceivable. Thankfully, the eyes of the world now rest upon the matter at hand, and governments are ready to move this to a satisfactory conclusion.
We are all praying for a happy ending, despite the fact that in a just world, such an abduction would never have happened in the first place. Let’s continue to do our bit to get these girls home by joining protests, continue to make petitions which have already proved successful – do whatever we can, however we can. These girls need to be brought back home, ASAP. And that is something I believe the vast majority of us desire, regardless of the colour of the flag we wave.
The world has finally taken notice of the silent screams of our African sisters.
The world is now ready to help.
It’s finally Game Time: Mama Africa wants her girls back.
Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)