“I cannot watch the news anymore, it’s becoming nothing but a flood of depressing stories—” a statement of many I personally overheard, and read on nearly all popular social media feeds currently. With heart-breaking stories nearly across the board on each televised news station, and newspaper, one cannot help but turn away in order to maintain their optimism towards life, and a better future. From shootings and multiple victims injured, to the death of historic figures (such as Nelson Mandela and Dr. Maya Angelou). Nonetheless, I have recently found that in doing so, causes more harm to the future, than building it. One popular social media site, Twitter, was “flooded” with tweets ending with the painful loss no parent should face: #BringBackOurGirls. It has been said 234 Nigerian girls have been reported missing since April 16, 2014 from the residential rooms at the Chibok School in the rural Northeastern Nigeria. What you may, or may not, have realized, is that such a devastating force of action is actually a part of a much horrific cause. A cause that we, people of the United States, tend to take for granted.
CNN news journalists, Azadeh Ansari and Tia Brueggeman, report in their article titled, “Demand for return of hundreds of abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria mounts” as they describe the increasing pressure, both within Nigeria and internally across the world, pleading for the safe return of the schoolgirls, and the overall end to such a traumatic series of events over a span of four years. The Islamic group behind such mass murdering call themselves the “Boko Haram” with a man named Abubakar Shekau as their leader. They initially began their purpose in 2010, as Shekau was found masked with an AK-47 in one hand, a pile of religious books in another, and a promise rooted deep within his heart. Reporter for the Washington Post, Terrence McCoy presents background findings of the Boko Haram in his article titled, “The Group that Kidnapped 234 Nigerian School Girls and its Murderous Campaign Against Education” as Shekau “promised to annihilate all traces of Western culture and education in Africa’s most populous nation.” After they escaped prison, the Boko Haram led on a series of bomb attacks in May and August of 2011, and January of 2012 in Nigeria with a total of 1,500 people dead—one of which on Christmas Eve killed 38 Christians. This is also said to demonstrate the increasing tension between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. Nonetheless, the Boko Haram’s central belief stems from Britain’s educational practices found in Africa, in which to the translational “core” of the group’s name means, “Western education is sinful.”
As First Lady Michelle Obama holds a stern, and deeply concerned, face displaying a #BringBackOurGirls, sign in her hands. Such awareness and showcasing of concern from individuals, schools, colleges, and universities across America displays the true essence of one of the most famous statements said by anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Presently, it is said that 54 of the 234 missing Nigerian schoolgirls have escaped, yet 180 of them have yet to be returned. As Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has went from pledging to return the Nigerian schoolgirls, to declaring “total war” against the Boko Haram. We must continue, spreading awareness of not only the situation at hand, but the underlying cause of it—education. Yes, this and many other stories concerning violence take a toll on all of us personally. As we “turn the other cheek” and “sweep” such stories under the “rug.” However, let us not forget that through knowledge comes awareness, unity, and a constant change for an aspiring future for us all, and for next generations to come.