On the 14th of last month, 276 Muslim and Christian schoolgirls were kidnapped from their school dormitories in the dark of the night, in Northern Nigeria. The extremist group Boko Haram claimed the kidnapping. The aim of the attack is not a one-off; it is part of a whole campaign. This attack highlights some of the many problems Nigeria faces among which, the inability of the Nigerian government to deal with insurgent attacks that are rising at an alarming rate, the inaction of the military and the government to ensure security and the social problems which plague the country.
    It is wrong to assume that this is an isolated attack on the part of the extremist group. There has been the assumption that Boko Haram conducted the attack against the schoolgirls because its name suggests that everything western is sinful, including education. However, as far back as May last year, according to the Huffington Post, the leader of the movement had already announced that it would start kidnapping women and children to avenge the fact that the government were taking the wives and children of members of Boko Haram. The latter has a history of attacks against the government and is not ready to surrender. The attack forms part of a series of attacks against the government.
    Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka has decried the inaction of Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, who he implies hides behind ‘false pride’ by not seeking international help. In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, he makes a virulent criticism of the President and the order of his priorities. He highlights that the chaotic situation of his country is nothing but the doings of some powerful few. The political situation does nothing to help the population. Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the African continent, 70% of its population still live in poverty.
    While many believe that education is the key for their children’s future success, radical groups like Boko Haram, which uses religion to carry out their attacks, thwart them. But religion has very little to do with this. In the name of religion, a campaign of fear and violence is carried out to satisfy the power hungry. In a video, the leader of Boko Haram claims that he will sell the girls as “women are slaves” and that God has ordered this action to him. The name of God is being instrumentally used to justify atrocities that defy understanding and humanity. It is too quick a judgement to reduce this act as an extremist religious one. It is in fact an act carried out by chauvinists who care for nothing but the intoxication of power and fear.
    Acclaimed Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who beautifully contextualised her novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’ in the postcolonial Nigeria and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ during the Biafran war has also asked the president to “humanize the loss and the missing”. In an article that she wrote for ‘The Scoop’, she makes very clear what she expects from the president in this situation. Her opinions certainly echo many of her fellow countrymen and strangely, or maybe not so, echo what many citizens from all around the world would want from their leaders, more actions, less focus on elections and more on matters on hand.
     Each day fear rises for the girls who are still missing. While some have been able to escape, a greater number are still detained. An international campaign called #BringBackOurGirls has gone viral on social media and the likes, with endorsements from all parts of the world, including Michelle Obama. Men and women from all around the world are rallying virtually or via protests held in their respective regions.
    The future that awaits these girls is terrifying, the plight of the parents is unfathomable and all the world can do at this point is rally, wait and see. With the hope that the girls are able the clutches of the madmen, we join the parents in their prayer to “bring back our girls”.