Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping

According to Wikipedia: “On the night of 14–15 April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Responsibility for the Islamist kidnappings was claimed by Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist and terrorist organization based in northeast Nigeria. As of 29 June, more than 200 students were still missing. Boko Haram has said that it wants to sell the girls. The Nigerian government has been heavily criticised for failing to protect the population and end Boko Haram terrorist actions”.

What I find poignant and disturbing, while at the same time unsurprising, is the situation remains unresolved, public interest would appear to be nigh nonexistent (although at the time of the kidnapping there was great shock and outcry), and the Nigerian and British governments seem to be doing too little in terms of trying to rescue the girls and dealing with the insurgents, which are linked to the terror group, al-Qaeda, and the move toward Islamic Fundamentalism, that is affecting Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and other places in the world, relentlessly continues. The Wikipedia article goes on: “the insurgent group Boko Haram is opposed to the Westernisation of Nigeria, which they maintain is the root cause of criminal behaviour in the country. Thousands of people have been killed in attacks perpetrated by the group …” and we remain immune even though similar patterns are seen elsewhere.

While I had in mind another subject to my latest blog post, which happens to be related and which I will come onto, if it wasn’t for the fact I chanced to listen to a five minute interview, with an Anglican priest with excellent contacts and insight, on today’s Radio 4 Today program (1hour 50mins in), who was an expert on what is going on and some of the difficulties and implications, I would not have even raised the matter. Interviews that do me most good are those that tell me things I don’t know or have overlooked and which take me out of my comfort zone, and this interview did just that. Apparently, negotiations have been made but as always there are barriers to seeing breakthroughs with powerful vested interests, including, to my surprise, government ones, dictating what happens next. It made me ask the question: what should be done and what can I do to find a solution? I was reminded of what a wise boss once advised me – when it comes to things you can do little about, don’t ignore or throw away but put them in a box with all the other related stuff and keep them there until such time you can do something to make a difference. In the meantime, I entrust my box to the Almighty.

So back to the story that I did have in mind to say something about… Again quoting Wikipedia: “Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education, who became the youngest ever Nobel Prize recipient in any category. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Yousafzai’s advocacy has since grown into an international movement”. Having watched this remarkable young woman (still only 17). and now living in the USA, being interviewed, I could not help but take in her articulate and graphic description of all what had been going on in the place where she had grown up and went to school, sensing her passion and intelligence, and realising there are others involved in the struggle too, who have suffered and are still suffering, including her own supportive father. Seeing what had been and can be achieved, this filled me with pride and hope.

When it comes to linking the two stories, besides the conflict with Islamic extremism (Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Pakistan) there is the matter of female education, which both these groups are vehemently opposed to. While I am all for girls getting educated, just as boys – I am proud that my father-in-law, who happens to be a poor Indian evangelist, insisted that his three daughters be educated to the highest possible standards – I realise some of the world’s greatest tyrants have been so called educated and what is needed above all is wisdom. But without wanting to split hairs, if these two stories tell us anything it is the value of education (so sadly often not evident in British society) and the right to be educated to the highest possible standard is one it is worth fighting for and, for those who have the opportunity, to be thankful we do.

And while these are serious matters, not least the associations with the recent rise in Islamic fundamentalism, I hope given accusations of past male chauvinism, by posting this I might build some bridges with my feminist friends, and join them in this struggle at least 🙂

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