boko haram

Finally, Nigeria’s Kidnapped Schoolgirls Are Coming Home

Photo: Some of the schoolgirls Boko Haram kidnapped in mid-April. 

“On Friday, Nigeria’s government announced it had reached a deal with Boko Haram to release the approximately 200 schoolgirls held captive by the Islamist terror group since April.

The agreement, announced by the country’s defense minister, also involves a cease fire between Boko Haram and Nigeria’s military. The government expects the terror group will not back out on the deal. "Commitment among parts of Boko Haram and the military does appear to be genuine,” an official with Nigeria’s security forces told Reuters Friday. “It is worth taking seriously.”

Boko Haram militants abducted more than 300 schoolgirls from Chibok boarding school in northern Nigeria in mid-April, sparking a worldwide outcry and propelling the group onto to the international stage for the first time. Over fifty of the girls escaped early on. The rest have remained in captivity ever since.“

As reported by Mother Jones 

AWESOME NEWS - this has been such a nightmare to follow, it is so great to hear the girls are being released!

Nigeria

I think we (Tumblr) need a moment of silence for the 2000 people killed in Nigeria.

Take that moment to think what it would be like, to have your home attacked by mad men and to have to run, lose your family in your flight, only to find them, your friends and neighbours slaughtered when you return.

Take that moment of silence and after that we need to talk very LOUDLY about this.

TW for violence

Boko Haram’s “Deadliest Massacre” Kills Thousands in Nigeria

“In the most recent attacks by extremist militant group Boko Haram, hundreds of gunmen attacked the town of Baga, leaving up to 2,000 people dead. The majority of those killed were women, children, and the elderly who could not flee quickly enough.

Boko Haram has continually attacked northern Nigeria since 2009; they have targeted officials, civilians, women, children, and have kidnapped girls. In the most internationally known case, the militants kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April of last year – most of the girls are still missing, and attempts by the government to retrieve them have failed.

The news inspired the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls and protests insisting the Nigerian government and international governments do something to bring the schoolgirls home. Since then, at least 100 more girls have been kidnapped.

Boko Haram’s goal is to establish an Islamist state with strict Sharia law in Nigeria. Their attacks often disproportionately hurt and kill women and girls, though boys and men are also killed or are taken and forced to fight for the group.”

Read the full piece here

#BringBackOurGirls #JeSuisBaga

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Just as people are now standing in solidarity with the French and decrying the terrorist violence that tragically took 17 lives, we must also stand in solidarity with Nigerians and decry Boko Haram’s slaughter of 2,000. The lives of Muslim and non-Western victims of terrorism also matter, even if the mainstream media’s omission of these stories may indicate otherwise.

youtube

An introduction to the terrorist organization Boko Haram with some context about the complicated history of northern Nigeria.

Misinformation is dangerous. Just be truthful and honest.

The post going around tumblr with pictures of charred corpses incorrectly stated to be victims of Boko Haram had several hundred notes yesterday. I saw it on my dash this morning, but it had exploded to over 17,000 notes and counting. Celebs are posting the images on their social networks as well. Questlove posted it on his instragram (tw: charred corpses), then adds the caveat that it’s Boko Haram’s earlier handiwork from 2011 in the pic and that his colleagues in the press got it wrong. Jesse Williams deleted the tumblr post he reblogged with pics of the charred corpses that had over 17,000 notes, so kudos to him for keeping it real and doing the honorable thing when he became aware of the facts.

Aside from the grotesqueness of sharing pictures of mangled, charred corpses, that tragedy had nothing to do with Boko Haram, Baga or even Nigeria. The pictures are from a fuel tanker explosion in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s not a new story. Please click here for clarity and a verification of where the photos are from.

The incorrect things always get traction, while factual things get buried and rarely garners the same level of attention. Many have been pointing out that the images that have gone viral is all misinformation, but those voices are being drowned out (and in some cases, flat out ignored).

The thing is that even if they were the real images of Boko Haram’s victims, why would you want to share pictures of people burned beyond recognition? Shouldn’t there be dignity and decorum in death at least? If yes, then should we not afford it to the poor souls that met such a horrific and untimely end? Imagine if you’re from the area in DRC where this happened and/or know some of the deceased. How would you feel about their corpses being the latest viral sensation or awareness campaign? What kind of awareness are you bringing? That it is gruesome when you are burned to death? Where is our collectively humanity?

Nevertheless, the images are not from Boko Haram massacres in Baga or anywhere in Nigeria. We should share information that is true. Misinformation is always wrong and can spiral out of control. The problem with misinformation is that even if you retract, delete and acknowledge your mistake (like the OP of the tumblr post that went viral), once the post gets out there, the damage will be done. It will get out of hand and you won’t be able to reign it in. It’s easy to wipe your hands clean and say “my bad” from the comfort of your privileged life, but it’s not that simple for people living in the situation you are carelessly posting about. Your actions cause damage and can incite negative religious sentiments and hatred. Sentiments that you won’t have to deal with, but the people on the ground have to live with. Angry youths who might riot from what they have seen on the internet will not see your retraction. This is a very volatile time in Nigeria with the presidential elections coming up next month. It’s a powder keg moment, and misinformation makes a potentially volatile situation worse.

These posts are everywhere from twitter, to instagram to facebook to tumblr etc. I keep seeing them. They just won’t go away. Now that elected officials and celebs are reposting it on the huge platforms they have, what they say is taken as the truth. There will be no cross checking. Millions will take it at face value. All because someone wanted to do something for notes, to seem aware or for attention and posted pictures of dead people somewhere in Africa and said it was a Boko Haram massacre. The misinformation wherever it came from has reached god knows how many. It’s amazing how far and wide misinformation spreads.

Another point of contention I have is these people who continue to say “no one cares” or “no one is reporting” about so and so somewhere in Africa. It isn’t accurate. Are things being reported to my liking or as widely as I would like? Absolutely not. Far from it. Would I like more attention? Of course I would. Why wouldn’t I want proper reporting on atrocities occurring? Northeast Nigeria is not an ideal place for reportage, and that goes without saying. The infrastructure in Northeast Nigeria might not be ideal and information might be sparse due to the aforementioned poor infrastructure and safety concerns for reporters and journalists, but information is still coming out. To say no one is reporting is incorrect.

If no one reported or said anything, how would you even know about it? Where are you getting your information from then? Who is feeding it to you? How would you even fix your mouth to say no one knows or is talking about it? Did you come by the information and happenings in Northeast Nigeria by magic? Is it osmosis? Are we to assume that you now know about areas in Borno state that even most Nigerians outside the region aren’t familiar with by chance? How did you come to find out about places like Baga, Bama, Gwoza, Chibok, Damboa etc? Many Nigerians are learning more about these areas too, so I’m at a loss as to how people who aren’t Nigerian are posting things on social media with such confidence, like they know what they are talking about. It’s rather disingenuous. It’s okay not to know everything or be an expert. You’re not an expert of Northeastern Nigeria. Neither are most Nigerians.

Imagine if everyone reporting about how no one cares or how no one is reporting what is happening used their platform to just retell the story or report on it. So much more proper information would be shared. I see reporters in the west chastising the western media for not reporting the story and I’m left wondering if they are including themselves in their finger wagging and complaints. Are they not part of the “western media”? Who are they shaming? Just report the story or amplify those who are. It’s that simple. It’s not a complicated matter.

Same goes for Nigerian media as well. I’m no fool. I know that there is widespread apathy with many Nigerians in the south regarding the happenings in the north, and many feel that this is not their problem. However, that is far from the reality for everyone. Many Nigerians care deeply. Just report things to the best of your ability. These “no one cares” sidesteps are a waste of time. You can’t shame people into having concern and empathy.

Let’s say no one really cares. I assume the person saying that cares, which is why they are talking about it. Alright, then instead of harping on what other people are not doing or caring about, just be proactive. Focus on the doers. Share factual stories, not viral misinformation or pictures of charred corpses in another country far from Nigeria. No one is asking you to reinvent the wheel here. We should be aware that we have platforms and we have voices. We can share factual things.

Someone told me in a private conversation that these viral images are creating “awareness” about Boko Haram and that I should be glad people are talking about my country, so the good outweighs the bad. This is the type of concern I can do without. They actively ignore the voices correcting them and carry on their charade of activism and campaign of awareness, on behalf of Nigerians of course. When you check them on it, they become combative and act like you should be grateful towards them, like they are doing Nigerians favors. It’s supposed to be for our benefit.

If this is charity, then we don’t want your benevolence. It’s not helping us. Good deeds are not supposed to hurt, obfuscate the issue or hinder progress. Good deeds are not built on misinformation, lies and distrust. Lastly, good deeds are supposed to put the beneficiaries first and not the benefactors. If you refuse to listen to the people you claim you are helping or are concerned about, then you aren’t sincere, moral or genuine. You’re an opportunistic fraud with ulterior motives and charity isn’t one of them.

Why can’t people just be honest? I’m tired of narratives framed around lies, dishonesty and misinformation. It’s exhausting. They say it’s important to tell your own story, but no one ever factors in that sometimes outsiders prefer juicy lies to the actual truth. They will drown your story and propagate misinformation. If not that, then they prefer western voices to yours when it comes to telling your story. I don’t worry about these things in general, but we should understand it. There are those who don’t give a damn about hearing your story from you. They want an echo chamber of their paternalistic, haughty voices. It’s why they will listen to George Clooney tell you about Darfur, instead of someone from Darfur. Ben Affleck is the new resident “Africa expert” these days. 

To wrap up this long post, what I’m saying is that we should just be truthful and honest. That’s all you have to be when an atrocity occurs. That seems to be impossible for many people and that is unfortunate.