THE BLOG

Who Stands with Nigerians?

02/10/2015 05:42 pm ET | Updated Apr 12, 2015

After the recent Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack we saw immense solitary with France. This solidarity came in the form of world leaders showing support in a march against terrorism in France. It was incredibly rare to see over thirty world leaders hand in hand, many of whom have their own political divisions among one another.

This story circulated all around the world and captured the attention of so many. This tragic incident shows that when a people, a country, the ideas of freedom of expression are threatened, that the collective community comes to support those in need. However, as beautiful as these images were, there were far more brutal attacks occurring outside of the 'developed world.'

In an interconnected world we are dependent on the fortunate and unfortunate. Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, and Lagos, the industrial capital of Nigeria, remains one of the most industrial cities in Africa. Despite this Nigeria is in the midst of an ongoing civil war with Boko Haram for decades, a group whose name means when translated 'western education is forbidden.' Boko Haram's recent attack on Borno State, concurrent with the Charlie Hebdo attack, not only killed over two thousand Nigerians, it also displaced a multitude of people.

Boko Haram has been waging a ruthless war in the goal of establishing an Islamic Caliphate in the region. We hear about ISIS, a group which commits similar acts as Boko Haram, yet why do we so rarely hear about this civil war in Nigeria? The reason seems to be that we in the developed world often view African problems as disconnected from our daily lives. Africans are the same as us. They have the same goals, the same aspirations as everyone else, only we rarely hear about them.

It is true that Nigeria does not have a stable government, and has historically been a state on the brink of collapse, yet this tumultuous situation impacts the entire region, as well as the world economy. As one of the largest economies in the world, as Nigeria struggles so will the world. We cannot forget that the plight of Nigerians, the plight of all peoples are plights we need to understand.

We may occasionally hear stories about war torn countries in Africa, may it be from Sudan, Nigeria, or Somalia just to name a few, yet we so often seem disinterested in these issues. Why are the massacres in Nigeria not on the front page? It is true that when Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of people there was some media attention, yet this only lasted for a day or two and simply faded from view. Boko Haram has continued to kill thousands without stop, and I do not see an end in sight, and the news will instead focus on the next new fashion trend.

I write all this without any rational solutions to the problem of Boko Haram, ISIS, or other like-minded groups. Despite this, I see it as crucial to step outside of our traditional perspectives, and not to look down upon those who are suffering. We must as a community and as a people do our best to attempt to understand the suffering of those outside of our bubble, and expand our perspectives.