Wednesday, July 23rd marked 100 days since the Chibok school girls of Nigeria have been in captivity. They were kidnapped in April by Boko Haram – a group of militant, Islamic extremists based in Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram when translated to English means – Western education is a sin.
The group became infamous in Nigeria a few years ago. Back then, they specialized in killing Christians. However, after a while, they started killing all forms of Nigerians – Northerners, Christians, Muslims and also, youths who are getting educated. Boko Haram, since the kidnap of the Chibok school girls, has become the shameful highlight of Nigeria – the country nicknamed the Giant of Africa. The extremists are shaming Nigerians, making us appear weak and as I have heard, they have even made some of us refugees. I would have never imagined that a Nigerian would become a refugee because of violence. Note: I lived in Nigeria uninterruptedly for 14 years since my birth.
There are times when I reflect on how shameful it is that Nigeria – Africa’s richest economy, is now the latest victim of terrorism, and I get so sad. I usually feel like the Giant has been forced to its knees. However, what I failed to remember for a while, was that the aim of Boko Haram is to create division among Nigerians and this vision of theirs is yet to come to fruition. It never will.
Nigeria comprises mainly of Christians and Muslims. I find so much beauty in this difference. I am a Christian and I attended a predominantly Christian school with Muslims. Yup! We would tell each other about our different religious practices. That was fun. During one of the main Muslim festive periods – Sallah, there was a particular neighbour of my parents who would share meat among his neighbours, including my Christian parents. Even in the midst of the Boko Haram crisis that has lasted for at least, four years now, a majority of Nigerians are saying No to religious violence, and No to violence against children and youths who are going to school. In summary, we Nigerians are saying No to Boko Haram. How can you be winning when your goal does not seem like it will ever be achieved? The extremists are the ones losing here because most Nigerians will not let swords and guns change their mindset on equality and every human being’s natural right to education.
I love that I am a co-Nigerian citizen to people who are different from me either by tribe or by religion. What fun would it be, if we were completely homogeneous as Nigerians? There is beauty in our differences. Our bond will continue to conquer the extremists. The Chibok school girls will be freed, and someday (soon, I hope), Boko Haram will leave Nigeria.
Love & Peace,