Grieving for Nigeria’s Kidnapped Girls

In early March, the world watched befuddled as Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 seemingly disappeared into thin air. As an international search and rescue effort began in the South China Sea and ended in heartbreak in the Indian Ocean, news outlets devoted hours to covering the bereaved families. 

In mid-April, Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group, abducted 100 schoolgirls in Northeastern Nigeria. After killing two guards at the school, the terrorists packed the girls into the back of an open truck. While 8 managed to escape by grabbing low-hanging branches and jumping out of the vehicle, the majority of the girls still remain missing. 24 hours after the initial disappearance, the Nigerian military reported that they had rescued most of the girls - only to be contradicted later by the principal of the school who insisted that most of his students were still missing. Between misleading statements from the military and the growing climate of fear in Northern Nigeria following recent increases in the boldness and intensity of Boko Haram attacks, there are no doubt that the parents of those girls are paralyzed with fear and worry. 

Howard French, professor at Columbia School of Journalism and former New York Times bureau chief for West Africa summed up my sentiments best when he recently tweeted: 

Does the collective silence of the international media stem from the tacit belief that violence is the norm in Africa? Are we conditioned not to bat an eyelash at the sorrow of the mothers and fathers who do not know if their children will come home? 

These are hard questions with no easy answers, however they merit reflection. As you ponder these questions, please pray for the bereaved families - but pray especially for their girls. 

Akinyi OchiengComment