Friday, April 17, 2015 at 8:44 AM

Remembering the Chibok Girls (and Boys)

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

I am still nursing the virtual wounds real friends inflicted after reading yesterday’s commentary, in which I dismissed the social media they revel in as “a vast wasteland of cultural hedonism.” Never mind that they ended up making my point. For they had nothing to say when I asked follow-up questions about their enthusiastic participation in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

That, of course, was the viral campaign to rescue the 250-plus Nigerian schoolgirls Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped a year ago this week.

Alexa-Chung-Cara-Delevingne-Bring-Back-our-girlsBut here, in part, is how I pooh-poohed the self-flattering, self-serving and self-delusional hashtag posts it generated:

Remember when the “#StopKony2012” viral campaign made expressing concern for the ‘invisible children’ the LRA kidnapped an article of our shared humanity?…

Yet Kony and his child soldiers remain as menacing today as they were back then.

Therefore, I hope folks bear this in mind; that is, if they aren’t too busy tweeting about the outrage du jour to wonder about the real-world impact of the ‘#BringBackOurGirls2014’ viral campaign.

(“Alas, Kidnapping Schoolgirls Is the Least of African Crimes against Humanity,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 7, 2014)

And here is how I doubled down on my cynical take eight months later, when acclaimed Nigerian cartoonist Tayo Fatunla published a cartoon of a child writing a letter asking Ebola “to pay the entire Boko Haram a visit:”

The point for me, of course, is that his letter/prayer couldn’t be any less effective than a bunch of American celebrities – who couldn’t tell Boko Haram from an Arab Harem – posting #BringBackOurGirls selfies.

(“On Second Thought, Ebola Might Be Good for Some Africans,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 8, 2014)

nigeria-abubakar-shekau-boko-haramSure enough, here is what all of that outpouring of hashtag activism has done to bring back those girls:

On Tuesday, the first anniversary of the kidnapping, President-elect Buhari said in a statement ‘We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown’…

Not one student has been rescued….

(Huffington Post, April 14, 2015)

images (11)I shan’t bore you with the sectarian and geopolitical reasons Nigerian authorities have failed to rescue them. To say nothing of the dispiriting fact that Boko Haram terrorists have kidnapped hundreds more since then; or that they have kidnapped almost as many boys….

The point now is that these rampaging Islamic terrorists are brazenly defying all boots-on-the-ground efforts to stop them, making a mockery of patently feckless protests on social-media.

I am often accused of being too cynical. But my accusers can never cite a single case where my cynicism proved unwarranted.

Moreover, as I found with my friends, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single person, who tweeted #BringBackOurGirls, who can show that her concern for them extended beyond that tweet.

Mind you, I don’t mean to suggest that there’s anything any of us can do to really help them or stop the kidnapping of others. Sadly, there isn’t….

Migrants MediterraneanThis brings me to the desperate journey so many Africans are taking to free themselves from chronic predation and strife.

I just hope the damning irony is not lost on any proud African that, 50 years after decolonization, hundreds of Africans (men, women, and children) are risking their lives, practically every day, to subjugate themselves to the paternal mercies of their former colonial masters in Europe.

(“African Migrants Turning Mediterranean Sea into Vast Cemetery,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 12, 2015)

Indeed, the greater irony is that this middle passage they’re taking today — freely as migrants, is eerily similar to the Middle Passage their forebears took centuries ago — shackled as slaves. Not to mention the fateful symmetry between the African chiefs who sold fellow Africans back then as slaves, and Boko Haram terrorists who are selling them today as sex slaves/child soldiers.

Therefore, who can blame Africans for fleeing? After all, every menace – from pestilence to genocide – suggests that Africa is fated to wallow as a dark, destitute, diseased, desperate, disenfranchised, dishonest, disorganized, disassociated, dangerous and, ultimately, dysfunctional mess. I mean, just imagine the existential spectacle of Blacks in South Africa, arguably the richest country on that continent, waging xenophobic warfare against Blacks from other Sub-Saharan countries over menial jobs.

By the way, admonishing migrants not to flee conditions so dire is like telling occupants not to flee a house on fire. Moreover, what’s causing migrants to flee is akin to a hellish inferno, which I fear no immigration policy or rescue operation can ever put out.

But I warned it would be thus:

As tragic as this event was, political dysfunction, economic stagnation, and civil strife on the Dark Continent are such that Africans will continue to risk life and limb to seek a better life. For, just as no legal barrier or risk of drowning in the Caribbean Sea has stemmed the tide of Haitian migrants setting off for America, no legal barrier or risk of drowning in the Mediterranean Sea will stem the tide of African migrants setting off for Europe.

(“Lampedusa Tragedy Highlights Europe’s ‘Haitian’ Problem,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 7, 2013)

Which compels me to end with the greatest irony of all: despite (or, dare I say, thanks to?) the centuries of slavery and discrimination our forebears endured, Blacks throughout the Americas cannot help but look on Africa today and say, there but for the grace of God….

Related commentaries:
Kidnapping schoolgirls

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