The people of Taraba state may have elected a female governor this weekend. Still waiting to see if INEC ratifies the elections but I’ll jump the gun anyways and say congratulations to Governor- Elect Hajia Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan. The Nigerian blogs are on fire because many Nigerians are excited to finally have an elected female governor? For those who don’t know, Taraba state is in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, bordered by Plateau and Benue State on the West and on the east by Cameroon. Taraba state is also one of the states where Boko Haram has been active. It is fitting that the people of Taraba state by electing a female governor gave an electoral middle-finger to and shut up Boko Haram as well as those who through their stereotypes and ignorance minimize the roles of women. Potential governor-elect Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan is not a political novice riding the coat-tails of a father or a husband, she is a former senator and a lawyer. She has a history of reaching across religious lines which is important in Nigeria.
Some Nigerian men have been posting stupid nonsense about “tokenism.” Curiously, many of these men are from the southern part of Nigeria and likely do not know anything about potential Governor-elect Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan or Taraba state. They do not understand how the people of Taraba state could potentially elect the most qualified candidate. In their evaluation a woman could never be the most qualified candidate. These good educated men continue to create barriers for women in Nigeria hiding behind their words and spewing misinformation, and sexism. But this is a time for celebration and there is work to be done. The people of Taraba state spoke out loud and clearly. Even if the INEC ratified data shows that she lost, Taraba state still won as a woman competed fairly. Congratulations to them. Hopefully the rest of the nation can catch up soon.
There are videos circulating the internet showing Chadian soldiers and Nigeria soldiers with (suspected / captured) Boko Haram fighters, I refuse to watch these videos but I have Facebook friends who have posted before and after screenshots and the pictures are brutal. Killing combatants during a fire-fight is one thing, but going out of your way to brutally torture and kill a captured enemy is extrajudicial murder. Yes Boko Haram is brutal and they have killed over 13,000 in just Nigeria alone. Yes many of these Boko Haram extremists are willing to die for their cause as evidence from their affinity for suicide bombings and missions. But I refuse to celebrate the torture or death of another human not even a suspected Boko Haram warrior. More baffling to me is that some of these Boko Haram warriors look like children who should be in school not actively involved in killing or getting killed. An unanswered question remains how do we stop this cycle of violence of misguided / ignorant / fanatic / militarized / extremist fighters? Our tears are not yet dry from mourning the dead at the hands of Boko Haram. The Chibok girls are still missing so we continue to chant #bringbackourgirls. Boko Haram continues to kill and fight a brutal war against innocent villagers and the numbers of the internally displaced and refugees continues to grow. Boko Haram has to be stopped and it is a brutal war, but in the quest to stop Boko Haram the soldiers should not become worse than them. I fear that based on these videos than it may be too late for some of the soldiers.
A few parents have been on the news recently because their kids joined ISIL or other cults. The scary part is that the kids were just so regular and so average as were the families and we may be tempted to say it could happen to anyone. But as parents we can fight and prevent it. We can do something, anything and stop our kids from feeling so hopeless and easy prey to these cults. The first step to cult/gang proofing our kids is spending time with them and building up their individuality. They do not need the latest toys or gadgets as much as they need us. We can teach them to revel in their own quirks and let them know that stranger danger includes religious fanatics and gangs. We should tell them the truth about scary topics otherwise they will get their truth elsewhere. We must stop trying to make them fit in with others, celebrate their awkwardness, absurd humor and abstract art and music. We should let them develop their own voice and celebrate each assertive gesture. It’s so easy to blame the environment when we had at least 10 years to cult/gang proof our kids but failed because we were too busy chasing money, career or prestige.
I sometimes wonder if humans ever learn. In the last 3 decades we have had genocide in almost every continent and we cannot seem to learn. There are countries where people under 30 have never seen peace and stability and their entire lives have been spent in a war zone. We create weapons capable of self destruction. We kill in the name of God. We spend more energy destroying, and criticizing than creating. There is hope though if each of us decides enough is enough and I have. This life is the only one I know I have and I will not be swayed by hate. I will create a cocoon of peace, harmony and joy with each breath and I will spread it to everyone I touch. Peace and change starts with me. Every little bit counts and each moment is an opportunity to change. I will not only imagine but I will act, write, dance, sing, cry and laugh.
Can you believe that this video is almost 30 years old?
Look away and wash your hands after all you are not guilty of any action, just apathy and silence. So what can we do to stop the injustice. 1) Get rid of leaders who have no empathy especially those that dance when kids are being murdered under their watch. 2) Admit that each life matters not just your family or tribe but each child needs to be cherished and protected. 3) Next time an idiot blames a victim of genocide bitch-slap the idiot with some knowledge especially if the idiot is your religious or political leader. 4) Raise your voice in unison with others that give a damn, mobilize for action and shout “enough is enough”. 5) Learn from the past, say and mean it “not on my watch”. 6) Use your time, talent and or treasure to seek change 7) Genocide is not acceptable , not in Nigeria, not in Uganda, not in Central African Republic, not anywhere in Africa and definitely not anywhere. 8) Otherwise look away and wash your hands but please remember to shut up with your bogus conspiracy theories.
No one cries for me, my short life not even worthy of a hashtag or footnote as leaders and future leaders rally for electoral votes. I am not Charlie, just a nameless faceless child burned to a crisp and left like trash in the charred remains of my town. No one cries for me, not even the mother who took time to wash my hair and plait it in perfect rows, her burned body lies besides the hundreds of relatives friends and enemies equal in agony and death. No one cries for me, no one cries for us, we remain faceless roasted flesh, unholy sacrifices on the altar of Boko Haram. Cry for me and Baga Nigeria. Raise dirges and ululate for the children kidnapped (or sold) and strapped with bombs, unwilling messengers of death. Look at my body as you pray and do something, say something, change something. Was my life in vain?