59 children have been brutally murdered in one go…and this isn’t breaking news.

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 GuardianAt least they covered the story.

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9 thoughts on “59 children have been brutally murdered in one go…and this isn’t breaking news.

  1. Africa = exhibit A of “man’s inhumanity to man.” one does not have to be a cynic to understand why these deaths matter less to the information gods than the death of any white person…and let’s not kid ourselves with the old ‘tribal revenge’ canard. The current state of life in Africa has been created by the ‘developed’ countries out of sheer greed for money and power at any and all costs…it is the result of evil unchecked…and it is being done in our names by governments and corporations…this is the banality of evil Hannah Arendt wrote of in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem. we would do well to remember that evil is not balanced by good, it just does not work that way…evil has to be eradicated not balanced by tything, food drives, peace corps, soup kitchens…, or other any other commendable, necessary deed that helps the less advantaged among us.

    Thanks for noticing this story and writing about it.

    • Ann says:

      and yet how? there are lots of quaint quotes about the power of the individual, but i’m seriously finding it increasingly difficult to find hope amidst all…this.

  2. on the scale of evil being perpetrated in places like Africa and the Middle East the individual is nothing more than a cipher…i think for those of us in democracies and with the means we can only vote and support ngo’s like Justice Africa and hope for the best…and do everything we can to promote and teach empathy…it is perhaps the last and best weapon left to the cause…I am tempted to say ‘otherwise we are doomed’.

    • Ann says:

      i think there’s a certain amount of responsibility, though, on the part of the media to keep us informed. the role twitter has played in recent uprisings, and the role the internet played in chiapas many years ago are signs of the evolution of the role of media in movements for human rights, but even the ability to know what is happening on the ground in war zones, or knowing that the press will allocate adequate attention to attrocities regardless of which continent they take place on – these are all weapons against oppression…we should all, in my humble opinion, demand that our media be honest and forthright. the treatment of this massacre thus far has been inexplicably insufficient.

      • yep, the role of the press is vital…nothing but admiration for those who shine lights in the dark and dangerous places…and contempt for those who treat it like just another commercial enterprise, or worse e.g. Fox News

  3. suncitymom says:

    I have posted it on my facebook after checking with the Austin American Statesman, the L.A. Times, the OC Register–NOTHING! It’s amazing what posting it on Facebook might do. Will keep you updated. Overwhelming sadness.

  4. Victor Halsig says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the “media” is just not gonna be honest with us. Whatever fits their needs they print and the rest they hide. I watch O’Reilly on Fox and nuthin’ there either, so this isn’t just one sided. But the “media” is business, corrupted by it’s desire to MAKE MONEY. My question here is this: Why did no leader of ANY “democratic” nation (USA included, of course) bring this into the daylight? How do we elect officials who will tell us what we NEED to hear and not just what they think we WANT to hear? My answer is that they probably want to get “reelected” and don’t want to “offend” anyone. Nevertheless, it is time for our world leaders to start letting us know about this kind of horror…God help us.

  5. Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing the story… when reading through it, I also came across the news of the abducted school girls… ( http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/23/200-girls-missing-nigeria-care-sewol-tragedy and http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/24/nigeria-abducted-girls-uniting-country-boko-haram) In another article it says, Boko Haram is abducting girls to use them as cooks and sex slaves. I am horrified at the though of what these girls are going through… and I totally agree with you that it is incredible how little the world ( and therefore the press) cares about people who are not part of the industrialized world.

    Will also share this on facebook. Nigerian government seems to care as little as everybody else, so public attention is one way to put more pressure on the duty bearers to act and to show the relatives of the hostages and those who have been killed in attacks and bombings that there are people who care and who remember….

    Thanks Ann

    • Ann says:

      you’re very welcome…someday i hope this world will make sense, though i doubt that will come in our lifetimes.

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