The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, has caused a stir by abducting young girls in Nigeria.
They have through this contemptible conduct caused everybody to stand up and say something in defence of the girls. The abduction must be condemned in the strongest terms, and all of us must stand together against such vile abuse and violation of the girls – or any other person.
I like the outrage. It must intensify, and the authorities must act decisively against anybody preying on the innocent girls.
I must admit I have not read much about this organisation to qualify to give epistemological or even etymological view on it, but the ever helpful Google points out that loosely translated, the name Boko Haram could mean “western education is sinful.” In this case the word “western” is at times used interchangeably with the word “bogus”, which would then read “bogus education is sinful.”
This, it is said, symbolises a strong opposition to anything Western which is seen as “corrupting Muslims”.
As a result of their recent activities, at least 16 people are reported killed or missing, and 234 female students kidnapped in Nigeria.
In this piece my interest is not in this group’s politics and their psychological make up, and this is mainly because I don’t know much about them. (But, as evinced by a substantial number of newspaper articles about the abduction, this field luckily has experts.)
What I am interested in is what in turn constitutes what I call ‘boko haramic’ conduct on our part. What do I mean, you ask? Well, let me explain by way of a few examples.
It is in my view extremely boko haramic for a trusted teacher to sleep with young girls, the very ones the teacher is supposed to look after, just like it is boko haramic to sell answer sheets to learners, to come to school drunk, etc.
It is equally boko haramic for police officials to abuse state vehicles by taking their kids to school and wives to work and back – and we see this daily.
It is boko haramic for a policeman not to know how to take a statement from victims of crime. I am no lawyer, but the boko haramic effect of not knowing how to take down a statement properly could result in a rape victim never getting justice.
It is vile and boko haramic for a nurse to be rude when handling patients, even worse when nurses cause patients to wait in a long queue while they take their lunch or are busy chatting away on their smart phones.
It is boko haramic for local government officials to deplete millions and millions of funds through corrupt activities while waste piles up in street corners of townships; while robots don’t work and simple street light bulbs seemingly can’t be replaced to keep them on. (And by the way, councillors and managers in these municipalities are people we went to school with; people who shared the view that we must study and get skills to be ready to take over and fix things in the interest of our communities. Today avaricious greed has turned some of them into shameful boko haramics.)
I know that residents do take to the streets in certain cases of this nature, but why then do these problems persist? Why do we still have ‘unwanted’ councillors and managers in municipal offices even after houses have been burnt down and people arrested and killed? Who is to blame for this boko haramic situation?
Is it not boko haramic for government officials to take longer than is necessary to pay taxpaying service providers for work done? I mean, the boko haramic effect of this heartless incompetence is the repossession of cars and houses, defaulting on contractual agreements, hunger of the entire family and other dependants. This happens, mind you, when these officials themselves get paid on time every month by taxpayers.
It is horribly, horribly boko haramic for us, brothers, to take advantage of ours daughters, having sex with them like they have reason to be punished like that. Step out and find yourself a woman, uncle. That child is supposed to be our future. You are destroying us. Zip it, please.
But also boko haramic is when you take advantage of the young boy, my sister, forcing yourself on him as if men your age have suddenly gone extinct. Stop it.
I could give more examples of how boko haramic we can all be, but no matter how hard I try, I am not able to point you to massive demonstrations of outrage at these boko haramic ills. Why is this? Why are we not out in the streets in our thousands expressing outrage and demanding better?
Or are we so damaged, so beaten up that we now silently endure these aberrations without lifting a finger?
Maruping Phepheng is reading for his MA in Creative Writing with Rhodes University, South Africa.