On Saturday, a girl walked into a crowded market in Maiduguri, Nigeria. When she was stopped to be screened, the explosives that were strapped to her went off, killing her and at least 20 other people. She is believed to have been a suicide bomber sent by the terrorists of Boko Haram, the same group that was responsible for the kidnapping of the 275 Chibok schoolgirls.
On January 3, 2015, Boko Haram men went to the city of Baga and killed up to an estimated 2,000 people, mostly civilians. They ravaged the town, burning down buildings and leaving the largest body count they have yet. This is their deadliest act in their reign of terror in Northern Nigeria, and 30,000 people have been displaced because of this attack, trying to find safety. Some swam to nearby Chad, and many died on the way there.
It took at least 5 days after it happened for us to find out about it. And 8 days later, it is still not headline news in the United States.
Last Wednesday, two men ran into the Paris office of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 10 people on their staff and 2 policemen. In other attacks, 5 more people were killed, leaving 17 people dead in France at the hands of extremists who wreaked havoc in the name of Islam.
Since last week, people have been saying #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) to stand with French people and to condemn the attacks. 40 world leaders went to Paris and marched yesterday. At the Golden Globe awards, there were at least 3 mentions of #JeSuisCharlie. There were ZERO of the massacre at Baga.
The silence on this is deafening. It is loud, and what it is yelling is that those 2,000 Black lives in Nigeria are not as worthy as the 17 French lives lost. But whose fault is this? Everybody’s.
Let’s start with the Nigerian government itself. President Goodluck Jonathan is in the heat of elections, and he wants to keep his job. He expressed his condolences for the attack against the French journalists, but he hasn’t said a peep about what happened in Baga. Why? It’s probably because he’s ashamed at his own perpetual failure in protecting the citizens of Nigeria. On his watch and in his country, terrorists have taken over an entire territory, and they continue to do as they wish. At the least, Goodluck is a coward, and at the worst, he’s an accomplice. His daughter got married this weekend, so the good times still roll for him as bodies of his people still lie in the bushes of Baga. It is absolutely mind-boggling.
Beyond the actual president himself, Southern Nigerians aren’t even getting news of the massacre like they should. Some learned of it on CNN. My goodness. In the country itself, it is not being covered. So how can we expect international media to do the same? When we are ignoring our own skinfolk being slaughtered at will, we surely cannot expect that those further away will care.
We cried #BringBackOurGirls, and it was like we had to grab people in the faces to say “PAY ATTENTION.” That is when it started receiving some media coverage. People in Nigeria started the hashtag, and it spread, but it took weeks. Did our hashtag cries work? Only to bring attention, but it didn’t save those girls because they are still missing and have been allegedly sold into marriage (read: slavery). Even though they’re still gone, they deserve to have us remember them.
I don’t know what to actually DO to make a difference. I don’t know what to say to adequately express my frustration about Nigeria’s fail, and even more embarrassing, the expectation of nothing better happening. A country with corrupt leaders still has citizens to protect, and if we’re not paying attention because we figured that what happened was inevitable, then we’re saying they do not deserve protection. We cannot purposefully disregard the deaths of all those innocent people.
17 people died in France. We should mourn them. We ARE mourning them. But 2,000 people died in Nigeria. Where is our outrage for them?
Instead of saying #JeSuisNigeria, I say #NaijaNiMi, in my native tongue of Yoruba. Nigerians are not francophones, so I assert this matter in our languages. In Igbo, #AduMOyeNaija. In Hausa, #NiNeNaija.
Our melanin shouldn’t make us shadows. #IamNigeria, born and bred. #IamNigeria because I am pissed that our President has allowed a roach to become a shark. #IamNigeria because if we don’t care, no one else will. #IamNigeria because the continued devaluation of Black lives cannot stand. #IamNigeria because all over the world, we still yell Black Lives Matter. Who will protect us? #IamNigeria.
Luvvie is a professional troublemaker and writer who talks pop culture at Awesomely Luvvie, technology at Awesomely Techie and is the head behind DumbestTweets.com. She can also be found on Twitter (@Luvvie), Facebook and Instagram.