A lot of people have gone missing lately. On March 8, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared with 239 people. The navies of several countries are still scouring the seabed of the Indian Ocean for the wreckage. And on April 14, 276 high school girls (the number is uncertain) in a remote Nigerian village were kidnapped by an al-Qaeda affiliate, Boko Haram (Western education is forbidden), the night before a physics exam. They have probably been taken over the border into neighbouring Chad or Cameroon.
Unhappily, Western media ignored the latter atrocity. Until the past week — when the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, appeared on a video and announced that he would be selling the girls, presumably as sex slaves. The going rate is 12 American dollars. Although he looked quite deranged, even drugged, it was a brilliant public relations move and the story moved immediately to the front page.
The government has done a poor job of handling the crisis. It has lied to and misinformed an increasingly angry public. Three weeks on, no one knows where the girls are.
Why isn’t this vicious act of terrorism better known? Perhaps because Nigeria is not a big trading partner with the US, where most of our media is based. Perhaps there is a racial element. Newspapers are still full of stories about the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann in 2007, but the disappearance of more than 200 Nigerian girls was regarded as just another dark episode in the Dark Continent.
Whatever the reason is, we in Western countries should pay far more attention to developments in Africa. With their resources, growing wealth, and burgeoning population, Nigeria and other countries will play a big role in the second half of this century. Whatever touches them will touch us, too. In the meantime, all we can do is pray that the Nigerian government gets its act together and delivers these innocent girls from their depraved captors.
There are some excellent features below – on an IVF horror story, the Vatican’s response to UN queries on sex abuse, the totalitarian side of the same-sex marriage campaign, and a brilliant little video about mobile phones. But we are also launching an occasional series by some of our contributors on books which have changed the way we look at the world. Try out the first instalment by yours truly …
MercatorNet is an Australian news zine that carries a lot of informative discussions on issues ranging from politics, religion to world affairs. It is concerned with a commitment to things of traditional value in the world including family, morals and living right. The above editorial first appeared here