Should attending school mean you risk kidnapping and slavery? When Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria and threatened to sell them, we asked why? Roughly translated, Boko Haram means “Western education is evil.” Education is the key to the future, particularly for girls in Africa. Schoolgirls should not have to pay such a price for wanting to be teachers or doctors.
Boko Haram is an extremist group that reminds us of the equally evil Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which traumatized northern Uganda for decades. Aid for Africa member Invisible Children has worked for almost a decade to bring attention to the LRA’s kidnapping of girls for sex slaves and boys for soldiers and to its demonic leader Joseph Kony. Like the LRA, Boko Haram must be stopped.
It is heartening to learn that the Nigerian government is now taking the kidnappings seriously. A recent video reportedly showing more than one hundred of the girls dressed in traditional Islamic garb along with indications that Boku Haram may consider the girls’ release as part of a prisoner swap does give us some hope.
But Kony’s LRA has taught us that this will not be quick or easy.
We must go beyond mere awareness as we watch wailing mothers plead for their daughters and learn of more death and destruction at the hands of Boko Haram in recent days. We must do more. We must move to action.
We need a response equal to the response to the LRA. That included 3.6 million individuals who signed pledges and thousands who lobbied their lawmakers resulting in a law that allows the U.S. Government to offer rewards for information leading to Kony’s arrest. Through thousands of small fundraisers, Invisible Children went on to erect a network of radio towers to warn villages in central Africa of possible LRA attacks, thus making communities safer.
With the Nigerian Government’s acceptance of U.S. military aid to find the schoolgirls, we are beginning to see action. In the meantime, we can:
- Support the right of girls in all nations to go to school and stand in solidarity with the kidnapped schoolgirls of Nigeria.
- Support all efforts that will lead to the Nigerian schoolgirls safe return.
- Support organizations that fund girls’ education in Africaómany that are Aid for Africa member organizations.
- Call on our own government to pressure governments in Africa and around the world to make schools safe havens for learning for girls and boys.
We can start with #BringBackOurGirls and move to action. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.