It is impossible to turn on any international news channel right now without getting updates on the recent Brussels attack which took place on Tuesday and left, at last count; 31 people dead and many others injured. The images displayed from the sites of the attack by different news media are heartbreaking and have sparked an honest outrage among most of the worlds populace as the actions of the Islamic State who have already taken responsibility for the attacks are openly condemned.
The worldwide reaction to the Brussels attack is not so new, it is in fact eerily reminiscent of last year’s November Paris attacks that left the world reeling after 130 people lost their lives and 398 people were injured in the bombings and mass shootings at varied locations.
After the Paris bombings the world was given the opportunity to show their solidarity with France via a number of means, the most memorable of which was Facebook’s offering of a French flag filter that served as a temporary profile picture for most people. Quite a number of Africans willingly joined in the compassionate show and the giant of Africa; Nigeria, was by no means left behind. Then, it seemed a realization dawned; how many people had been killed by Nigeria’s own brand of the Islamic state; Boko Haram? How many African lives had been destroyed? Why were there no African flags for those occasions? Why was there a flag now? These were the questions touted in a hundred different ways across different posts that called Nigerians and the world in fact to wake up.
It’s been about 4 months since then and the same worldwide panic and show of solidarity is playing out again in the media, this time directed towards Belgium, in the wake of the Brussels attack. The #PrayForNigeria hashtag trended on twitter two days ago in another reactive venture and these pictures culled from the thread are encompassing of the sentiment that drove the hashtag;
Human Rights Watch in its 2016 World Report regarding Boko Haram activities says that; “More than 9,500 civilians have died in the conflict and the number of displaced people has increased from just over 1 million at the end of 2014 to almost 2 million in 2015,”. With those numbers, it’s hard to categorize the anger of Nigerians and other suffering African countries as misplaced, so as always, it seems we must resort to pertinent questions.
Are we to consider the coverage of African terrorism acts as unfair? If so, do the actions of the international media show that the lives of Africans are indeed devalued when compared to Western lives or is it rather that Boko Haram and other terrorist activities in Africa have become so commonplace that there seems no apparent need to continuously talk about them?
We may need to answer these questions to save ourselves from the anger that comes from feelings of marginalization and if we do indeed find that the answers to these questions are a resounding yes, then we must continue in our demands to be heard that; Boko Haram is as much a threat as the Islamic State and if the world won’t join us to pray, we will #PrayForAfrica.