I am outraged.
I am sick to my stomach.
This morning, scrolling through the news on the Guardian, waaaaay down at the bottom, nestled between a story about an NHS scandal and an IRA bombing suspect, was the story of 59 adolescent Nigerian students who were shot and burned to death by members of the extremist group Boko Haram on Tuesday.
At first they thought there were only 29 dead. Apparently many of them ran for their lives, only to die along the way from their gunshot wounds.
Some of them were “burned to ashes,” according to the police commissioner.
This is horrible…terrible…I am no journalist, so I have no shame in admitting that it leaves me absolutely speechless.
But it is news. It is very, very important news.
Appalled by the very unimportant placement of the article on the Guardian’s front page, I began formulating a letter of complaint to the editor. Out of curiosity, and perhaps for some moral amunition, I headed over to Al Jazeera, hoping to say, “Hey, Guardian! Look how this newspaper valued the lives of these children enough to place it at the top of the page!” Alas, there isn’t even a mention of the event on their home page.
New York Times: Nothing on their home page.
Los Angeles Times: Nothing on their home page.
The Washington Post: Nothing on their home page.
Le Monde: One of 16 lead stories at the bottom of their homepage
The Telegraph: Nothing on their home page.
I’m going to ask you to do something terrible.
I’m going to ask you to imagine your own child, 16 years old, having just seen his or her classmates shot and burned alive, running through the bush, bleeding from gunshot wounds, until he or she finally cannot go any further, and collapses, to bleed to death, alone.
I don’t think I have a single reader out there who would contest that Africa is where it all began. Where humans took their first steps; where farmers planted their first seeds; where civilisations were first built. More recently, so-called “developed” countries have spent the past several hundred years endeavouring by any means necessary to systematically under-develop this massive, culture-, history-, and (perhaps most importantly to those “developed” nations) resource-rich continent to what often feels like the point of no return.
Humanity’s treatment of Africa and Africans is a microcosm – albeit a very large one – of humanity’s treatment to the Earth and nature itself: as somehow seperate. Not part of us.
Listen: Africa is us. Those are our children.
Consider Columbine. Sandy Hook. The Norway Massacre.
Why do the deaths of these children headline for days – weeks, even? Why are their lives worthy of breaking news reports that start at the moment they happen and don’t end until we almost can’t stand to hear about it any more?
Why are the children of Buni Yadi College in Yobe, Nigeria, not headlining the news?
Please: remember Biafra.
I should have been writing to thank the editors of the Guardian. At least they covered the story.