This week has been a challenge..
You see I have been trying to write positive stories about this continent I love and was met with perplexed faces. Wait, have you seen the news lately?
” What is it with you and your obsession with Africa? We want news, real stories. We want to the best in the game. We want traffic to our site. The stories you want to do are issue based. You can’t tell an issue based story in less than 2 minutes. In 200 words. Lets talk about politics, can you tell me what’s going on in the DA? Can you predict who is going to be the elected the premier of Gauteng? Can you file stories under pressure? Can you meet deadlines? Being a presidential correspondent can make or break your career it’s about money you see. We can’t spend 300,000 on you to fly somewhere and you don’t file a single story those things can break you as a journalist. Are you sure you want to be a political correspondent?”
Now it was my turn to have a perplexed facial expression.
“you missed your calling, you should have been a porn star” says an old friend of over evening drinks. That’s a good one I reply. I was just thinking that I have been feeling increasingly like a pawn in an elaborate political chess game, in which no one really cares about me whether I succeeded or fail I am just a means to an end, because either way it makes no difference. I’m what you would call, collateral damage in an inevitable war over the power to control. A tool, expedient. My presence or absence is all the same to those who are at war with each other. I am being used in a negative way and I feel empty. “You mean Pawn, not Porn!” Another friend corrects me later. Ah well I guess it’s time to brush up on my isiZulu language skills I tell her. That’s the best way to learn a new language, by using your mother tongue to understand it. “yes” she, a consummate polyglot, agrees ” I was surprised to find that isiZulu is based on the same grammatical principles as Hungarian, so It’s easy for me to understand the grammar ” she says. ” yes well language is the basis for everything in life, once you understand the language then most things are easier to understand”
I cannot begin to describe my feelings around this recent media phenomena. In fact I have been trying very hard not to think about the multiple ways in which this is disturbingly unacceptable. Why it should not be allowed to continue for yet another day. I did say I am not an angry black woman. But I am angry. Except this time I want to channel my “anger” in a positive way. In a way my work situation(s) have allowed me to tap marginally into how the girls must be feeling, to somehow imagine what they must be going through. It’s incomparable I know, because I will never know what it must feel like to be abducted and trapped, stripped and made to say and do things for a war you know nothing about, where you, regardless of what you do will be the loser. There’s no way of knowing this unless you’re in it. I have been trying to find a way of acting positively, of speaking life to a situation that is so complex it’s simple. I have been thinking about this while Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan is wining and dining in South Africa on President Jacob Zuma’s second presidential inauguration. Kinda brings back memories of American President Bush junior who was telling children stories while 911 happened. But of course the two things are completely unrelated.” That’s the problem with you women, you see connections everywhere even where there are no connections to be made. you think too much” a man once said to me.
” Fair Enough – It’s just a Moon Shot”
The United Nations Security Council has issued sanctions against Boko Haram. When I read this I wondered how they could do this unless they know who Boko Haram is. In a recent interview with South African TV Journalist Deborah Patta for CBS news, a Boko Haram representative said they are “everywhere” in Nigeria. They have “assimilated” into Nigerian society. “we plan to kidnap more girls” he told Ms Patta who looked frozen in her seat. This man could have been lying or telling the truth, but the fact is we have no way of knowing. So who will these sanctions affect? It’s not like they’re going to arrive at the airport with a sign that says I am a member of Boko Haram unless they do as evidenced in Ms Patta’s recent interview. So What is the point? Boko Haram have been terrorizing Nigeria for years. President Jonathan has always maintained that they had it all under control. I remember three years ago while working for the West African Democracy Radio, reading the news, daily there were bomb blasts in Northern Nigeria orchestrated by Boko Haram, every single day multitudes were dying. Now Nigerians want cessation. “let them go and form their own Hausa nation” some Nigerians have commented on news reports. ” South Africa has the capacity to sort this mess out” says an insider. ” But Goodluck Jonathan won’t have it, they don’t want anything to do with South Africa, we’ve tried but they are not giving in” he said ” Now he’s allowing the Americans and the French to go in, once they’re in they’ll never leave” he said. There is still oil in Nigeria, but anyway in all the discussions no one is thinking practically about the girls. Who is thinking about the girls?
“What we need is the pink brigade”
So imagine if all those people who’ve posted pictures of themselves with #bringbackourgirls banners and posters would actually act horizontally. Imagine if we all could take matters in our own hands and not ask for permission, and go and get our beloved girls back? I can hear you say oh that’s a suicide mission. But is it really? You see this is how I know it’s possible. Can we forget about “politics” for a moment? Life is politics you say, fair enough, but can we try a different political experiment? In India there’s a group of women “vigilantes” they call them. Who are doing just that, taking matters in their own hands. Dealing with “politics” in a very unpolitical way as in: they are not running for office in any parliament. It’s not up to Boko Haram or the Presidents of the world to decide what happens to the girls. What do I mean? The group in India clad in electric pink saris dubbed the Pink Vigilantes have been shaming abusive husbands and corrupt officials in India’s agricultural town of Baduas not far from the Taj Mahal… their movement started with five women and now has a following of 20 thousand women who physically march to and confront (sometimes beating them, though I am not advocating for violence, just a physical presence that won’t be moved) men who abuse their wives and children, because they’ve been abused themselves. Boko Haram has guns, you say, and bombs. Sure, but how long will we wait? How much do we value our lives ? How much do we value the girls’ lives. Do we really care? If we did actually care then all us African women, activists, politicians, celebrities, can stop screaming at men asking them to something they have no intention of doing. We must wear our pink scarves and or Hijabs for that matter and physically go there and fetch our girls. That’s just how I see it. There’s power in numbers. That for me would be the ultimate act of love. Someone once said it’s impossible until it’s done. The question is, are you willing?