A friend was sharing a joke with me yesterday. I was so amused but in the middle of my laughter, the thought of the 86 girls who are presently being held by Boko Haram popped up in my mind and I was surprised at how the amusement instantly gave way to a flood of guilt and pain.
What if those girls are being raped? What if some have already being killed? How is their state of mind? Imagine the horror they are facing and the scars that the eventual survivors will live with for the rest of their lives. Naturally, issues of violence against women and children tear at each nerve in my body and the pain I feel when they confront me is inexplicable. I felt myself bleeding as those questions banged at my heart.
The abductors of those girls were not taking them out on a date of fun and excitement, they are heartless terrorists who are out to inflict maximum pain on other human beings. Not to talk of their motive, it is doubtful that even if they have the heart, they will have the resources to keep those girls in a decent condition. Have they had their bath since that night? Have they eaten? How do they sleep, if they do at all? How about those who may be seeing their period? And those who may have fallen ill already, what is their condition? And then their families, how are they feeling right now?
We must not run away from these critical points of consideration. We must not lose our humanity for any excuse and go about our lives in the usual manner of holding onto senseless sentiments and imaginary divisive lines that exist only on the artificial paper of political interests on which our elites draw them to mislead us. We are pretending as if the plight of those innocent girls is a myth. Because we are a cowardly society that cannot face its challenges. We merely wish them away, cast the responsibility unto God and live with the pretence that all is well.
This is unacceptable. We should not go to sleep in our homes until those girls are rescued. We should not eat and carry on with our lives as if they do not exist. It is our fault that this sort of predicament has come upon them. We produced those monsters called Boko Haram. And we have collectively encouraged the bad leadership that has bred the sect, by aiding them in their corrupt ways, supporting their hold onto power and through our silence.
I feel the pain their families are going through and I pray that God will keep them under His safe watch. But I must say that Nigeria has let those girls down. We are playing politics of tribe and religion with their lives and have abandoned them to their fate. We should brave the consequences and come out and hold candlelight vigils and fight with our collective willpower to move events and people to hasten their rescue. We should proceed on massive national-wide civil disobedience to force the elites to hasten and not only rescue those girls, but also remedy the despicable state of affairs in our country that has given birth to this sort of occurrence.
I am disappointed that events such as the recent scam called the NIS recruitment exercise that murdered scores of our young people, the Nyanya Bomb blast that slaughtered so many of our beloved compatriots and then this satanic abduction of these promising young girls, have occurred in quick succession, yet no one seem ruffled. Abba Moro is still a minister and Maj Gen Chris Olukolade is still the head of communication at the Defence Headquarters. And we are contented to leave men of such low integrity who have insulted us, raped our emotions and assaulted our dignity, to continue to hold such exalted offices. We have lost our souls as a people. We are heartless and our religion is but an empty act of hypocrisy. That is what our apathy says we are.
Many of us may not have the voice and resources to lead the efforts, but come to think of it, we have people like Tuface, D’Banj, Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade etc, who have benefited a lot from this society because we have made them big, through our patronage. A good number of them in Nollywood and the music industry. They have thousands of followers on their social media platforms; voices loud enough to cause a major stir. We respect and adore them more than we regard our leaders. They can lead in this simple efforts as a way of giving back to the society that has made them and also preserving their market. No one talks of songs and movies in a war-torn society, they must remember that. We have Pastors who command large followership. If they organise vigils, they will draw millions out to action. But they do not care beyond our offerings and tithes. Martin Luther King jnr was a minister of the gospel, so was Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu. Who says Pastors can’t lead a revolution? We also have Imams of equal influence across the country. These people are our worse cheats because we give them more than we give our politicians. We give them as much as our hearts and out of the little of our purses. We deserve more from them.
No matter how little that spark of humanity in our hearts is, we can fan it with a renewal of our spirits, into a flame of compassion, kindness and patriotism. For the sake of God and His children and on behalf of our lives and those of our fellow men, women and generations to come, we should bear the pain to revive our nation, beginning with courageous sacrifice and unification of our hearts and souls, to rescue our missing girls. All is not well and we can only pretend it is, the reality remains cruelly so.
God bless Nigeria.
Elvis Iyorngurum, poet and author is the Secretary of the Abuja Writers’ Forum. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and
Let’s all play our part – no matter how small. We have been silent too long. Let’s act and make it simply above teacup storms. SVA