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May 8, 2014

Bring Back Our Girls: Education is Not A Crime (A Battle for the Innocent).

Paul Ortega/Pixoto

 

“On April 15th, 230 School girls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. All 230 are still missing.”

I write my opinion not only as a Nigerian but as a female and as part of the millions of voices yelling for the girls who were kidnapped to be returned. It is a crime against humanity for this kind of atrocity to be committed. I’m glad that people and nations are finally joining forces to stand against such unconscionable acts.

As a Nigerian, these matters have hit too close for comfort and so it is a desire that I speak up.

Just the other day, I wrote an article in celebration of my reconnecting back to my Nigerian family members who live in the East Coast here in the United States, but I have a lot of family members back in Nigeria who live from Abuja to Lagos, Benin, Ibadan and I am sure are scattered all over Nigeria.

How can my mind be at rest knowing that where I call home, such a crime can easily be committed? We are all brothers and sisters, and in my mind’s eye the girls that were kidnapped are my sisters and so the cry #bringbackourgirls is a cry that connects us all as family.

Education is the number one way to battle illiteracy and ignorance. It is the number one way to bring enlightenment to a society. If a group of extremists called Boko Haram, whose name in the Hausa language means “western education is a sin” are succeeding through extreme acts to deprive the society from receiving education in Nigeria—what then becomes of our future?

My one take on this trivial and unfortunate matter is the issue of education! Under no circumstance or reason should any human be kidnapped in the first place and “education being a sin” according to this group of extremists is beyond absurd.

Should seeking an education be a crime?

Should young lads who dream of becoming doctors, architects or lawyers be scared to even dream because they see that dreaming about the future might as well be a waste of time?

In this day and age, should we regard the freedom to study and receive education in a safe environment as a huge privilege? I thought our only battle in Nigeria was for receiving quality education but now, it seems we should be happy if we can receive any type of education. Students now contemplate: my life or my education—which is greater?

They try to take our education from us because that is the only way they think they can disarm us.

The future is in the children, the young souls. Change can only be fostered with education and awareness. If they deprive us from getting our education, they limit our chance to create change, to improve lives, to fight them and their extremist ways and to become better leaders than those in our current government.

Northern Nigeria is where this war has been taking place. I imagine parents scared for their children’s lives, I imagine students at home because safety to study is not guaranteed and I imagine the cries of those missing because they chose education.

nigeria

Everyone should have a right to receive education in a safe and sound environment—why that is that a sin or a crime? As Hillary Clinton tweeted, “is an unconscionable reason to target innocent girls.”

The missing girls have struck conversations that have since been swept under the rug by the government, not just about the emergence of this terrorist group (who have been the cause of several school bombings in recent times), but also about the importance of a safe, sound and quality education in Nigeria and everywhere in the world!

Conversations arose about slavery in modern times, about racism (like the question my fellow Elephant writer Bronwyn Petry posed in her article“what if 276 white girls had disappeared—would international attention have galvanized more quickly?” and about how the world and the international community chooses to ignore Africa (and other smaller nations or developing countries) as a whole.

I guess now is the time to open the book of the unspoken, its time to speak and act and it’s time to mindfully search within ourselves—what can we do to contribute positively? Any action, any write up, any speech, any petition signed all contribute in tiny ways to create awareness and hopefully move leaders in power to not only be reactive but proactive.

I personally write to add to this awareness of this topic whose hash tag #bringbackourgirls has led to a massive awareness and a call to action. I like that passionate souls all over the world are being ignited to take a stand in unity behind the girls missing.

Education is not a crime my brothers and sisters, and no one should be hurt in any way or form for choosing knowledge over ignorance.

As a Nigerian, I pray for my dear country and for the safe return of the missing girls.

I look forward for a brighter future for the youths of my country, even through the bleak views. We are the future, education is our right and we will thrive beyond all atrocities committed against us as a society.

Let us meditate, let us pray, let us not wait for permission from others to evoke conversations that bring awareness, and let us not take our freedom for granted.

 

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Paul Ortega/Pixoto

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