Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Nigeria of Boko Haram

- or the Nigeria that Boko Haram would like to have - is very different from the Nigeria the Senior Cat's cousin was Ambassador to many years ago.
The Senior Cat's cousin was posted to Lagos in, I think, the 1960's. It is not something either of us remember much about. Lagos was still the capital of Nigeria in those days. It was, as it is now, a growing city. It had all the usual problems facing a country with diverse social groups and tribal loyalties.  Corruption was, as it is in many places, rife.
But the Senior Cat's cousin went with his wife and two young children - and they enjoyed their time there. It was challenging but they made life-long friends among not just the "diplomatic circle" but the local people. Years later young Nigerian students would arrive in Canberra and be welcomed by them. Whenever a new Nigerian diplomat arrived in Canberra the Senior Cat's cousin and his wife would make sure they "knew the ropes" of everyday life.
The Senior Cat's cousin died several years ago and his wife is now in a nursing home but they did their bit for international relations between Australia and Africa.
I also have friends who have taught in Nigeria - taught in the north where the worst of the problems now are. And I have colleagues who still try to do some work there. It has been increasingly difficult and dangerous of late.
We are all as puzzled as we are distressed and angered by Boko Haram. The philosophy of Boko Haram makes no sense. I watched Malala Yousafzai being interviewed on television the other night. With quiet dignity she gently pointed out that her brand of Islam requires people to educate themselves. And, she wanted to know, what was the difference between a western stethoscope and an eastern one? Many people will, of course, see that as a simplistic response from a naïve teenager but she is not really naïve. There is no difference. Boko Haram, and like organisations, would have a less than mediaeval society where women are not even regarded as second class citizens. They appear to have nothing but contempt for women.
I cannot visualise the sort of society Boko Haram members seem to want. It does not seem logical or possible. It is a sort of insanity.
I don't think the Senior Cat's cousin and his family got it wrong when they went out of their way to continue their friendships with Nigerians after leaving the country. They never tried to impose their beliefs on anyone or in anyway indoctrinate or convert them to anything. But a colleague who has been in Nigeria recently told me, "If they were there now their lives would be constantly in danger. Mine was too. I was glad to leave."
The sad thing is that her grandparents were born and brought up in Nigeria and she wanted to do something positive to help.
Who is funding this vile organisation? What do they want to achieve? Even their version of Sharia law is extreme. I could weep for Africa.


virtualquilter said...

It is not only girls they abuse ... they have got more attention for kidnapping the girls, but have abused, burnt and shot boys too. Even with these girls, why did it take so long for the world to take notice?

catdownunder said...

It is odd because there is oil in Nigeria - probably just not in the parts that these vile individuals operate!