The Value of African Lives

Capturing the way I feel with words has been a bit challenging for me as I process this whole thing. I’m not exactly sure how I missed it but . . . I missed it. I heard about it, but I did not ponder it deeper enough, until the phone call from my mentor.

17 people were killed by alleged Al-Qaida-led operatives, and world leaders descended upon Paris, France to walk arm-in-arm in solidarity against the atrocious act. I listened to the News and saw pictures of that but did not pay enough attention. I was bogged down with life’s issues; busy making a living.

Paris-rally-large-169This was BIG news after all, and crawling out of the stone under which I was buried made me see the story from different angles. And the phone call, I might add started it all.

Around the same time, I had been following stories of barbaric butchering far away on the West Coast of Africa in the country of Nigeria. Boko Haram which has continuously caused such havoc in the lives of many in Nigeria had struck yet again. This time, in Baga and Doron Baga, killing over 2000 people mostly women and children.

According to Amnesty International, the attack on Baga and Doron Baga, neighbouring towns in the far north-east of Nigeria, was the largest and deadliest Boko Haram assault that it had seen. It said about 620 structures had been destroyed in Baga, and more than 3,100 in Doron Baga.

Over 2000 people killed by similar Al-Qaida-led operatives and there is the usual muted mention of it in the media.

It is unconscionable that African Leaders have not even descended upon Nigeria the way world leaders matched in France. Their silence is a loud and sad commentary of their insensitivity to the suffering of the people they rule.

Despite several suicide bombings 10 days since Baga was first attacked, even Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan did not offer a word – except for a statement condemning the Paris attacks.

How could this be? Are some lives more valuable than others? Is this about economics, politics or geography? These are pungent questions thatbaga-massacre violate the conscience and disrupt any sense of emotional equilibrium.

Where is the global leadership outcry for the over 2000 lives, on par with the 17 lives lost in Paris?

A nagging answer of sorts, seem to get my attention. It also is in the form of a question. Does African lives matter? Put differently, is the value placed on African lives the same as other lives around the world?

From suspicious targeted police brutality against ‘Blacks’ in many places in the USA, the ravaging effects of the Ebola virus, heightened by the death of Thomas Duncan – the first African to die of the disease on US soil amidst questionable circumstances, to over 200 girls being kidnapped and still not found, and now over 2000 lives taken by the same vicious Boko Haram . . . . . some pervasive questions must be answered!

When will African lives matter? Is the value placed on African lives the same as others? Why does 17 murders in France get more attention than as many as 2000 murders in Nigeria? Can I be Charlie and Baga too?

Maybe, just maybe . . . many people are asking these very same questions.

What are your thoughts?

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