Since April 14th I have been overwhelmed at the world we live in and the schizophrenia our society sometimes succumbs to. I find it exceptionally shocking, to say the least, how in this day and age people still have minds of the primitive and still believe women are nothing more than vectors for reproduction.
For our Breaking Ground current affairs show this week on Voice of Wits I thought it important to do a package on this story that has taken international media by storm and sparked great controversy among feminists and several societies around the globe.
Important to know, Boko Haram is a militant group based in the northeast of Nigeria. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the organisation seeks to establish a so-called pure Islamic state ruled by sharia.
The violence linked to this terrorist group has resulted in an estimated ten thousand deaths between 2002 and 2013. They aim to put a stop to what it deems as Westernization, hence their name meaning ‘Western education is forbidden’.
The group is known for attacking Christians, Muslims and government targets, bombing churches, mosques, schools and police stations, and kidnapping western tourists.
In light of this their latest attack has in the least shocked the world, the kidnapping of almost three hundred girls on April 14th. Boko Haram stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Fifty-three managed to escape, two have died from snake bites and about twenty are ill – according to Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau. 276 remain in captivity.
A video went viral last week with Shekau admitting his militant group are responsible for the kidnapping of the girls. He also admits he will sell these girls as slaves and for sex at markets in line with their religion. He also entered into negotiation grounds saying he will release the girls if the government release their militants who they have been holding since 2009. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan says military force is the an option right now for Nigeria.
In a recent video sent to the AFP earlier this week – the 276 girls allegedly appear in the video wearing full body burqa’s and reciting the First verse of the Qu’ran. All the girls have been converted to Islam and are being thought the ways of the Islamic religion.
Authorities are unsure where the girls are and if they are being trafficked but the Nigerian government have come under much scrutiny for reacting effectively in bringing back the girls.
The first lady of Nigeria has been quoted as denying the girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram. She says they are made up lies to make the government look bad. President Goodluck Jonathan says they are working at finding the girls. The President also reassured the parents of the girls that they will try their best to return them to their homes.
US officials say they have offered the Nigerian government help from the first day, they say the Nigerian government refused their help until now.
The offer now accepted the two countries have very different ideas on what they think the US will do in Nigeria. The Nigeria government says the want a deployment of US security personnel in the country. However spokesman of the White House Jay Carney says Nigeria needs to ensure security in their country first as the US is not looking at military force now.
Meanwhile President Barack Obama indicated that Boko Haram might become the eventual target. It is also suspected that Boko Haram is allied with Al Qaida and receives their weapons from Libya.
People all around the world have rallied together showing their support for these kidnapped girls by holding vigils for the girls and protests to voice their terror and shock of the situation. Wits University will hold a protest this Friday on #BringBackOurGirls.
Also The South African All Nigerian Nationals in the Diaspora non-profit organization invites people who are interested to attend a night vigil to keep faith with the innocent Nigerian school Girls abducted by terror group Boko Haram, on Saturday at 6pm at the Africa Heritage House in Rivonia.