With the recent mass murdering of 310 people in Nigeria at the hands of Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, I’m starting to believe that there’s no helping Nigeria. 276 Nigerian school girls are still missing and much of the world has joined in the outrage, via social media, with the emergence of #BringBackOurGirls. However, this hashtag may not be offering the help you think. It might actually be harming the folks in Nigeria.
Nigerian-American writer, Jumoke Balogun said it best:
When you pressure Western powers, particularly the American government to get involved in African affairs and when you champion military intervention, you become part of a much larger problem. You become a complicit participant in a military expansionist agenda on the continent of Africa. This is not good.
You might not know this, but the United States military loves your hashtags because it gives them legitimacy to encroach and grow their military presence in Africa. AFRICOM (United States Africa Command), the military body that is responsible for overseeing U.S. military operations across Africa, gained much from #KONY2012 and will now gain even more from #BringBackOurGirls.
#KONY2012 was the last time military advisers were sent to Africa. Remember that tragic moment in time? President Obama sent 100 combat-equipped troops to capture or kill Lord’s Resistance Army leader, Joseph Kony in Central Africa. This man has been killing, abducting and displacing civilians in East and central Africa since 1987. They still haven’t found him and in 2008, the AFRICOM helped plan an attack on Kony, but he was evidently tipped off and escaped before the attack claimed his life. In retaliation for his missed attack, Kony killed hundreds of nearby villagers in revenge, leaving behind scorched huts. President Obama sent more troops in March 2014 who now roam Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Evidently, the U.S. involvement in this crisis undermines the democratic process in Nigeria and no matter how many heartfelt hashtags we create, nothing seems to be able to change what the violent terrorist group has planned. These terrorist groups are going to do whatever they see fit. Brave Nigerians took President Goodluck Jonathan to task and challenged him to address the tragedy of the missing girls and to do something! It is in their hands to seek justice for these girls and to ensure that the Nigerian government is held accountable. Yes, we can support, but we should more more mindful of how. Emphasis on U.S. action does more harm that help to the Nigerian people. Look at the recent attack that claimed the lives of 310 innocent villagers. This was in response to efforts being made to locate the girls. The rescue efforts have to be perfectly planned and strategically executed or more innocent lives will be claimed at the hands of the Boko Haram.
I’ve recently questioned Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s devotion to those poor, missing girls, because in my limited understanding, he wasn’t making many moves to ensure their safe return. However, the president touched on the the president opened up and asked for international help.
Doyin Okupe, a spokesman for Goodluck Jonathan, told CNN, “The President and the government is not taking this as easy as people all over the world think. We’ve done a lot but we are not talking about it. We’re not Americans. We’re not showing people, you know, but it does not mean that we are not doing something.”
Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole says that the involvement of the U.S. government and military will only lead to more militarism, less oversight and less democracy.
There’s a reason the Nigerian military initially lied about the number of girls who were abducted and found. With a history of extreme violence against their own people, the Nigerian military is not to be trusted. According to reports in 2013, the Nigerian military was killing, torturing, illegally detaining and raping civilians in a fight to halt an Islamic uprising in northeast Nigeria that has killed nearly 2,000 people since 2010. Could that Islamic uprising be the Boko Haram? Because if so, the Nigerian military’s solution to being dominated by the Boko Haram was to kill their people, so the Boko Haram wouldn’t. I’m not sure if I trust or understand their actions.
Nigerian-American writer, Balogun offers an alternative to overusing the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag:
If you must do something, learn more about the amazing activists and journalists like this one, this one, and this one just to name a few, who have risked arrests and their lives as they challenge the Nigerian government to do better for its people within the democratic process. If you must tweet, tweet to support and embolden them, don’t direct your calls to action to the United States government who seeks to only embolden American militarism. Don’t join the American government and military in co-opting this movement started and sustained by Nigerians.
And please don’t get me started on American filmmaker, Ramaa Mosley, who took it upon herself to take credit for starting the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag. “I was looking on Facebook and Twitter to see if anyone was talking about it, and people were not talking about it,” Mosley explained on Nightline. “There were a few people who mentioned it who were Nigerian and were posting about it, but other than that no one in the United States or in Europe had made any calls.” Mosley even claimed that although “there were a few people who mentioned it who were Nigerian and were posting about it, but other than that no one in the United States or in Europe had made any calls.”
Reports claim that while Mosley did create a Facebook page that now has over 100,000 likes, the #BringBackOurGirls movement was already in motion by the time Mosley jumped on the bandwagon. It was actually first tweeted by Nigerian citizen Ibrahim M. Abdullahi after hearing Oby Ezekwesili, Nigeria’s former Federal Minister of Education, demanding the exact phrase at a protest. And yet, ABC’s Nightline chose to crown Mosley as the patron saint of the movement, effectively giving her credit for the tireless work of Nigerian activists, families and citizens. So of course Black Twitter banned together to give Ramaa credit for…oh man, just click to find out.
Mosley represents something bigger than a thief without integrity. She represents the idea that Africa isn’t self-sufficient enough to solve its own problems. This isn’t true. Nigeria is more than capable of saving these girls. With military forces and the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria has what it takes to take down the Boko Haram. And with the intelligence, weapons and planning help from the U.S., Nigeria’s got an upper hand on the violent group, they just can’t predict what psychotic actions they will take.
What do you think is the best way to help #BringBackOurGirls? Let’s chat @Rhapsodani.