#Bringbackourgirls is a social media outcry against the kidnapping of 300 girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, by the infamous Boko Haram terrorist group. Over 200 girls have been missing for several weeks now and the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakr Shekau, had announced in a video that he is prepared to sell them in the marketplace, claiming that 9 and 12 are suitable marrying ages. Boko Haram is an extremist group in Nigeria, with staunch anti-Western beliefs. This abduction is not only an act of terrorism but also an extension of the antagonism against the education of women and girls.
While initially, much of the world was not aware of this tragedy, a few weeks later, the #Bringbackourgirls movement began spreading like wildfire, leading to protests in DC and other cities, and now the hashtag is close to having been mentioned over a million times online.
Social media has by far been one of, if not THE most prolific civil unrest, advocacy, and activism tools in the last few years. Sites like Twitter and Facebook allow people outlets to express outrage and to demand accountability of their peers, their leaders, and of the world really. Media has always been our society’s way of doing this, from Vietnam then, to Boko Haram now.
The kidnapping and sale of these girls, is a crime against humanity, a heinous act of terrorism that we should not take lightly. It is a just cause for outrage. We are correct in weeping over these girls, and weeping with these mothers, these families, who have now been waiting close to a month to see their children again. We are right to wonder about the world, and what it is coming to, when these despicable acts can take place..right beneath our noses.
Sadly though...quite a lot happens beneath our noses. Boko Haram is not new. They have existed for approximately 12 years, exacting car bombings, killings, executions, kidnappings, and creating general havoc as they wage a jihad against the Nigerian state and Western ideals as a whole.
Many news outlets have labeled this kidnapping as being a huge source of embarrassment to the Nigerian state, particularly in light of unconfirmed claims that the First Lady of Nigeria, Patience Johnson, has doubted the claims of the abductees’ parents and made snide remarks to protesters.
But actually...and this is meant in the least offensive and infuriating way as possible, it may be a huge source of embarrassment to us as members of the international community as well. We are not doing very well at “never again”. We’re not as good as we think we are at looking out for our ‘neighbors’. Tragically, the news about Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and others, what they wear, what they say, is wildly and insanely popular within seconds, and the subject of actual heated debates, in comparison to the relatively insignificant regular incidents, challenges and tragedies in countries like Nigeria. We seem to only pay attention to the tragedies that swoop in and engulf the news, our news-feeds and our Reddits, and not the gradual, escalating, quiet, daily devastation that plagues essentially all of the fragile states, up until something happens, sufficiently immediate and sufficiently heinous to get us going.
We repeat a vicious cycle of blissful ignorance until a devastating and shocking blow, time and time again, Rwanda, South Sudan, Egypt, Venezuela, Congo, CAR , Nigeria and Burundi, to name a few.
“Maybe if the more than 200 Nigerian girls abducted from their school weeks ago were on a ferry in Korea, a jet liner in the Indian Ocean, in the owner’s box at a Clippers basketball game, or were white, the world would pay more attention,”
— Xeni Jardin
So yes, #Bringbackourgirls, please.
But we also exhort the international community to agree that outrage needs to exceed and outlive hashtags.
Imagine if we, all together, consistently demanded peace, justice and hope for those people in fragile states, all the time, not only when something really shocks us off our chairs. What if we demanded the right thing, when someone casually mentions that xyz government is selling its national park to oil-interests, or when a blurb mentions a car-bombing in a remote village, or when your missionary friend posts about growing unrest in xyz country. What if we acted in such a way that showed that we believe in the equality of humanity. What if we lived in and helped create a world where outrage...lasted past hype.