Those closest to me will concur that I have a memory span of a five year old. My mind often works live a dysfunctional sieve that lets out the good with the bad leaving me with gaping holes were my memory should be. That said though, I have come to know that if an event of historical occurrence is retained in my head it is due to its magnitude or enormity that the sieve just can’t help itself but retain. One of such occurrences is the interview that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gave on Morning Live days before leaving for for her new post as the African union commission chair.
That morning, in the most dignified manner she gave her aspirations for the Union and for the continent as a whole. I sat at the edge of my seat ad avidly consumed every word as she spoke of ‘an organ that responds to Africa’s problems’, the need for ‘infrastructure that connects Africa within’ and ‘a commission that is the driving engine to what happens in member states’. When she pledged continued support for women and girls (although it came from an instrumental perspective) still the idealist/womanist/feminist in me was mesmerised! I remember calling up my friend to tune in to the interview, ‘we have a woman in chair at the A.U ntombi!(chic!).
With this interview in mind I hope people can understand why when the news of the abduction of the school girls in Borno first hit I was convinced without a doubt that this was an issue that the African Union should and could intervene in. I was convinced that the A.U would step out of the shadows and finally help get a handle on the continued security situation in the Northern Province which had ticked and blown off several times without any international action. For me the A.U was the end game, here and on this issue it would finally show its relevance and transform the narrative of dependence. Three weeks later the A.U chair’s office ‘acknowledged’ the abduction and condemned it……full stop, that’s it! I was mortified.
‘It is now six weeks and counting’
It is now six weeks and counting since the girls were taken from the sanctuary of their school hostels. Much has happened in the world since then but for the girls I feel we are stuck on a carousel or merry-go-round without any progress. It reads like the apex of a Hollywood thriller, it is semi-deliberate for as I write this blog I am pondering on a question asked by a friend on the logistics needed to make so many girls disappear into the night. There more I think about it the more the scene begins to play like a covert expert military operation. It has been six weeks and still we do not know the actual number of girls that were abducted, it has been six weeks and still we have not heard any progress of viable information or evidence being pursued, it’s been six weeks and still over 200 girls are living in fear and uncertainty concerning the sanctity of their lives. The last for me is the most chilling.
Much has been said, tweeted, facebooked about the issue but the truth we are no more in the light that the first few minutes the news broke out on news channels on April the 15th. This has led some to be very cynical and some downright lethargic about the global efforts to campaign about the abduction and the proverbial hashtag. Many have demonised the hashtag as some sort of imperialistic concoction, to that I can not comment but I know that the opposite of having all these conversations and posts is silence. For me some conversation no matter how conceited is better than silence in a tragedy like this one.
As a Zimbabwean I understand how easy it is to succumb to lethargy, to throw in the towel and admit to your own impotence when it comes to issues of social or political significance. It is easier to be silent when it seems no one is there to listen to your cries. However, in this case we do not have that luxury. I for one do not want to wake up two years from now to yet another Cannes selected documentary of ‘the lives of the 200 ‘or some such title that tells me of a history that I could have changed but chose to be blasé about. I do not want to be part of a discursive panel of ‘African experts’ that talks about what went wrong when I can be a part of evading an even greater tragedy.
While the solution that still remains is that of bringing back the abducted girls the pathway, for me, is one that is spear headed by the Nigerian government. It has been six weeks and counting but the desired end to this issue is failing to materialise. At what point should an African solution become requisite?
I am confident that this abduction shall be one of those historical occurrences that my mind will not be able to sieve out. For this reason I do want my conscience to punish me for my non-action for years to come. In truth, inspite of the above I remain hopeful, prayerful and keen to join a protest, to sign a petition; I pick up my placard and shout at the top of my lungs, ‘hey African Union #bringbackourgirls!!!!’