AFRICANGLOBE – Do the editorial writers and editors who decide what goes on front pages of major newspapers and magazines, and lede television and radio broadcast news, believe that some lives are more valuable than others?
The answer must be an emphatic “yes” if we contrast the outpouring of global grief and news coverage after the killing of 17 people in Paris last week with the scant attention paid to the mayhem and massacres by Boko Haram, whose fundamentalist brutality claimed an estimated 2,000 lives in Nigeria in the last week.
Do leaders of the major industrial nations of the world, and ironically in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, also share this notion?
Journalist Simon Allison asks in a commentary in The Daily Maverick, “But where are the solidarity marches, the passionate editorials and the international condemnations?”
The massacre of the writers, cartoonist, and the publisher at Charlie Hebdo is condemned; as is the killing of the hostages at the Kosher deli, and of the police officers.
Three gunmen were ultimately cornered and killed: the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, and an accomplice who acted separately, Amedy Coulibaly. A female accomplice of Coulibaly, Hayat Boumeddienne, is reported on the run.
And, the French deserve all the pledges of support that have come from aound the world. Leaders of several countries, a reported 40 in all, joined the 3.7 million French citizens who participated in unity rallies throughout the country.
But what about the pain and suffering of Nigerians?
Writing about the recent attacks by Boko Haram in Baga, in north-eastern Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon, Allison says, “Over the course of five days, beginning on Saturday last week, Boko Haram fighters entered the city with Nigerian soldiers fleeing before them, and destroyed it and anybody that was too slow in escaping men, women, children.”
Allison adds, “The body count varies, but Amnesty International puts it at over 2,000 deaths or the rough equivalent of 133 Charlie Hebdo attacks.”
There was once that brief global outpouring of solidarity and support for Nigerians right after more than 250 school girls from Chibok were kidnapped by Boko Haram. The news has all but disappeared from the global media outlets; it’s as if that incident never even occurred.
To be sure, Nigeria’s problems have been compounded as Boko Haram seizes more territory, reportedly scattering Nigerian troops in flight. The authorities there also want to downplay the Boko Haram threat, preferring to focus on the presidential elections coming in February. Apparently the major parties didn’t feel it was worth getting together to consider postponing the vote in order to mobilize maximum effort against Boko Haram.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly expressed sympathy to France over the attacks in Paris. Where are his tears for the victims of Boko Haram?
Several African leaders, including Mali’s Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and Gabon’s Ali Bongo Ondimba went to Paris on Sunday to show solidarity; absurd, considering that a raging inferno of extremism is claiming the lives of Africans on the continent.
Just because President Jonathan may not be up to the task, the world shouldn’t abandon Nigerians to the brutality of Boko Haram who seem to exclusively target civilians in their attacks.
After all, France also has a president whom most consider to be inept; his approval rating in November 2014, was only 12%. Yet when Paris was struck last week by the gunmen, leaders of the major industrial powers and editorial writers at large media outlets went into full-drive, proclaiming “Je Sui Charlie.”
What about the traumatized and brutalized people of Nigeria, especially the innocent children and women? Don’t they deserve similar outpouring of support and solidarity? Are leaders in the West, in Africa, and elsewhere, so cynical that, with their deafening silence, they proclaim that the lives of Africans don’t really count?
This is an ugly reality that we must all face.
And of course it’s not only the hypocrisy regarding Nigerian victims. There are many civilian victims in raging conflicts around the world and they deserve attention, including in places such as: Syria; Iraq; Congo; South Sudan; and, those in Gaza still recovering from the Israeli onslaught last year.
Yes — Black Lives Matter, in Nigeria too.