Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bring Back Our Girls: Why What's Happening in Africa Matters

The mainstream media talks a good talk about crises in different African countries, and yet it seems that the there was little help for those who are suffering until the sheer horror of this event was known to the West. The kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria is just the most sensational of these stories. Boko Haram's goal is to strike fear into the Nigerian people so they will keep their girls at home and to force them into following their strict view of Islam. They want to strike terror into the very heart of the communities effected by taking their children. This is just part of a growing problem of Islamic extremism and militarism in Africa, and is possibly the most serious crisis that we are facing today. Yet it took a huge event such as the kidnapping of 300 girls for the West to pay attention.

Meanwhile in the Central African Republic, there is a genocide brewing and yet few people know about it, and peace keepers are desperately trying to keep the country together with little effect. More than 2000 people have been killed in this conflict since December and the number is sure to rise. This has been a crisis growing since last year when there was a coup by Muslim lead rebels, and the Christians and Muslims have been fighting for control over the country since then.

There have  also been religious conflicts in South Sudan, and we rarely seem to pay attention. Perhaps we in the West we are desensitized  to hearing about seemingly unending conflicts in African nations, and don't think much of it. Never mind that just the other day a DRC court cleared 39 soldiers of the rape of 130 women. There is only so much horror that we have an appetite for in the news.

Yes we desperately need to see more good news stories about African countries and their innovations and the new high growth era, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the growing problem of extremism and military conflicts in certain regions. It should not take a mass kidnapping for the eyes of the world to turn to Africa. But now that our eyes are in Africa, they should stay there. Not only are African Countries going to see some incredible growth in the future, but we see the effects of the West's "War on Terror" most prominently there.

I sincerely wish that some resolution is found and that hopefully the Nigerian girls are returned to their families, but also that we won't forget about them again. And that maybe we will take the time to learn about the other conflicts happening in Africa right now that deserve our attention, and start to speak up and demand more action to  help those who are suffering.  This should be the beginning of change for the better, and not simply a news story.

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