Dashiki Dialogues: Chibok, Africa and our celebrations

2014-05-20 10:00

More than 200 mothers in Nigeria do not know where their daughters are?–?they were kidnapped from the village of Chibok by Boko Haram.

This is a gang of demented militants who claim their raison d’être from a perverted fundamentalist reading of Islam. We know they are wrong because any basic reading of Islam points towards peace and beauty, elements Boko Haram seems to hate.

I watched the slow swirl of global interest on the plight of the kidnapped girls with a slight slump in spirit. It appeared as though the world was only half-awake to the horror of the mothers and daughters of Chibok.

My disappointment started to boil into anger as I saw Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan fail to muster any sense of urgency on the matter.

His TV appearances have been of a nonchalant man overseeing business as usual. He seemed to be joined by regional and continental leaders in his lack of fortitude to save the day.

But I want to propose that the plight of Chibok uncovers greater inefficiencies about Africa.

Militarily, it says none of the 54 African countries have any capacity to respond to a gang of gun-toting ideologues. We had to wait for the US, with its drone spy planes, to come and search for the kidnapped girls. Africa is not safe.

Since the event coincides with our 20 years of democracy, we must ask what our freedom means for the rest of Africa and those battling tyranny.

I say this because for all intents and purposes, our freedom will be empty unless it carries some meaning for the rest of Africa and its diaspora.

After all, our dehumanisation, oppression and dispossession did implicate the continent in our struggles and efforts to free ourselves.

In fact, much of the destruction of Mozambique’s economy was caused by Renamo rebels who were enabled by the apartheid regime, which wanted to destabilise that country so it could not support the liberation movement in South Africa.

Many families in Botswana lost loved ones killed by apartheid armies embarking on cross-border raids to hunt for anti-apartheid operatives.

As bullets threaten peace and stability in vulnerable towns and villages like Chibok, I think we need to ask more of our celebrations.

Our democratic dashikis will not claim any beauty unless they participate in a dialogue with the rest of the continent.

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