"BRING BACK OUR GIRLS" UPDATE - Social Media's Role in Bringing it to International Attention

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Just picked up on this from VOX in reference to the updates on actions towards rescuing the girls who were kidnapped from their school by Boko Haram.

As I have stated continuously, I have total disdain for fanaticism of any kind - especially religious zealots going under the guise of religion to push their political and oppressive agenda.  Boko Haram has committed heinous crimes in Nigeria before - and, in point of fact, there are heinous crimes of internecine wars being committed throughout Africa - that have gone unpunished or unchallenged - or insufficiently responded to.

Had the Nigerian government actually taken them at the beginning of these onslaughts, and likewise engaged neighboring countries, such as Chad, to forbid them entre into their borders, this would not have happened.  For whatever reason, Africa is in the throes of victimization internally via Islamic despots who, feeling threatened at the possible demise of their religion, are using force and death, to intimidate whole countries into cowtowing to them.

It's time to put it to an end, across the board - by any means necessary!  Now I have never been one to have Black people fighting Black people.  However, when depraved individuals cross the line and use their own people as victims, they are no longer Black.  Like Jomo Kenyatta's example with the MauMau who cleaned out the traitors of Kenya and valiantly fought for and won their liberation from British rule, Nigeria has to exercise the same methodology in cleaning out the very real situation they face whereby there are outside agitators, and interior traitors who are setting the country up and backstabbing their own people.

In the 21st Century, there is absolutely no room for this kind of behavior or mentality.  There is absolutely no room for any intertribal wars.  There should absolutely be no more countries in Africa that is not part of a Unified, United, PanAfrican government and militia - to solidify and unify and bring about a UNITED CONTINENT OF AFRICA - immediately, if not sooner.

Either that, or Africa can just go back to being raped and ripped off by every other culture, with no control over her own wealth and natural resources; Africa can continue to be the butt of jokes, and the brunt of the cast offs.

I am totally hopeful that this is the beginning of the unification of Africa and the eradication of these unconscionable, heinous acts.
Stay Blessed &
Gloria www.gloriadulanwilson.blogspot.com/ECLECTICALLY BLACK NEWS

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why #BringBackOurGirls is actually making a difference for Nigeria

Nigerians rally for the return of the kidnapped girls in Abuja, Nigeria's capital. Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
"Hashtag activism" is one of the most delectable slurs in our modern lexicon. It's a perfect encapsulation of the delusional narcissism and utter pettiness of people who think sharing a photo is the ultimate political act; that enough 140-character missives can put an end to a long-running civil war.
Improbably, #BringBackOurGirls has been a qualified success
So in theory, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, aimed at rescuing the Nigerian girls abducted by the Islamist group Boko Haram, should be terrible. It's a social media campaign hijacked by a bunch of Westerners who probably couldn't find Nigeria on a map attempting to solve a problem, a violent Islamist insurgency, they only dimly understand.

Yet, improbably, #BringBackOurGirls has been a qualified success. The girls aren't back, but the hashtag campaign has done about as much as anyone could have realistically expected: helped Nigerians make their government, whose inaction is a huge part of the problem, listen to their demands.
Some recent history is useful here. Everyone and their mothers is comparing #BringBackOurGirls to that other well-known hashtag campaign about an African militant group, #Kony2012. That past campaign aimed to pressure the US government to "get" Joseph Kony, the leader of the vicious Lord's Resistance Army operating in and around northern Uganda.

There are lots of various similarities and differences between #Kony2012 — Daniel Solomon has put together a brilliant, comprehensive rundown here. The most salient one Dan lists, to my mind, is their stark difference in goals. #Kony2012 was a campaign by Western activists to push their pet solution to the Lord's Resistance Army problem; #BringBackOurGirls was originally a push by local Nigerian activists to get their own government to pay even the slightest attention to the kidnapped girls. One campaign saw a simple military problem; the other a complex situation where an incompetent government is (arguably) one of the root causes of the instability that allows militant violence to sustain itself.

#Kony2012 told a simple story because their simplistic, arguably harmful solution required a simple, wrong diagnosis
These differences have shaped everything that followed about the two campaigns. #Kony2012 peddled, as Uganda watcher Mark Kersten puts it, an "obfuscating, simplified and wildly erroneous narrative of a legitimate, terror-fighting, innocent partner of the West (the Government of Uganda) seeking to eliminate a band of lunatic, child-thieving, machine-gun wielding mystics (the LRA)."

#Kony2012 told a simple story because their simplistic, arguably harmful solution required a simple, wrong diagnosis. Likewise with the #Kony2012 promotional material centering on the story of a white, American child (who happened to be the son of one of the campaign's founders). White Americans needed to be the central actors in Uganda's drama because that's the role #Kony2012's creators seemed to believed they should play.

#BringBackOurGirls is, as the New York Times' Lydia Polgren put it, "the opposite of #Kony2012." When #BringBackOurGirls began, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan had yet to say a thing about the abduction of hundreds of girls. Nigerians like Oby Ezekwesili and Ibrahim Abdullahi felt like they used the hashtag as a means of coordinating and enhancing the local campaign to pressure the Jonathan government. The Nigerian hashtag activism worked to enhance real, democratic activism by Nigerians — far and away the most important reason to think that social media helped here.

The hashtag activism worked to enhance real activism
This local-ness also totally transformed the valence of the international hashtag campaign that came after. Western tweeters were serving as a support brigade to local Nigerian activists, whether they meant to or not, bringing international as well as domestic pressure to bear on the Jonathan government's indifference. It's not a Western-imposed solution; it's Western backup for local activists whose weapon is public protest and dissent. The internet serves as an extension of the large Nigerian protests.

This, as a number of scholars of international relations will tell you, is a tried-and-true strategy for putting pressure on local governments. "Moral consciousness-raising by the international human rights community often involves a process of 'shaming,'" professors Kathryn Sikkink and Thomas Risse write. Shaming "implies a process of persuasion, since it convinces leaders that their behavior is inconsistent with an identity to which they aspire."

We can't know for sure how much the specter of international embarrassment complimented the much more important local pressure campaign on Jonathan, but if it did provide an assist, then it's much more productive than #Kony2012 ever was.

Now, #BringBackOurGirls actually helped bring about an American deployment in Nigeria. So if you opposed #Kony2012 on grounds that Western involvement is necessarily bad, that'd be a strike against #BringBackBackOurGirls. However, the structure of the campaign transformed again the outcome. The US deployment to Nigeria isn't a massive ground troop intervention or series of drone strikes. In fact, it's entirely non-combat: law enforcement, hostage negotiation, and military experts are assisting the Nigerian government's search campaign. In other words, the international support could help keep Jonathan honest, helping ensure that he's actually devoting resources to the search for the missing girls. Once again, the international efforts compliment the Nigerian demands for their government to take action.

Nigerians were already pretty well aware of the violent group bombing targets around their country before Americans got involved
Not that the campaign is totally unproblematic. Western involvement could spiral out of control, or prompt a violent, inhumane crackdown by the Nigerian government itself (it has a pretty awful human rights record in anti-Boko Haram operations). More directly, it could perversely help Boko Haram. Political scientist Will Moore, noting that terrorist groups can only sow terror if people pay attention to their attacks, worries that all this attention could actually increase Boko Haram's power to intimidate Nigerians. It's a real concern, though I'd note that Nigerians were already pretty well aware of the violent group bombing targets around their country before Americans got involved.

Perhaps most fundamentally, we're still only a few weeks into the sustained international campaign surrounding the Chibok girls. The US Senate hasn't yet held planned hearings on the topic, so there's still plenty of ways the international campaign can go sour. And the local campaign still hasn't succeeded in bringing the girls back.

Nevertheless, what we've seen so far is encouraging. International activists have supported a truly local, democratic demand for accountability from the Nigerian people to the Nigerian government — who themselves were directing and shaping the social media campaign's direction. Not bad for some hashtag activists.
Card 4 of 8 Launch cards

What is the Nigerian government doing?

That's under dispute. The government claims to be working hard to find the girls, but the family of the girls and local activists don't really believe them. Meanwhile, Boko Haram has kidnapped at least 8 more girls in Borno.
President Goodluck Jonathan didn't speak about the Chibok abduction for roughly three weeks after it happened. When he did, on May 5th, he denied that negotiations were ongoing, but promised to get the girls back. He has set up a committee to plan a strategy for rescuing the girls, and believes, according the AP, that current military efforts will find them. On May 7, the Nigerian police offered a $312,000 reward for any useful information about the girls.
It's not actually clear what the government's military efforts are, and Nigerians have been protesting to put pressure on Jonathan to do more. "We have a national leader who is supposed to champion the protection of the entire country," said Aishatu Ngulde, a member of Baobab for Women's Human Rights, told Voice of America. "But since this thing happened, we have never had our president tell the entire nation that he is deploying our air force with their jets." Protests are still ongoing; you can follow pictures of them on Nigerian writer and lawyer Elnathan John's Twitter feed.
It should be said that the Jonathan government doesn't have a great record on human rights and civilian protection. In 2013, the president declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adawama states and cracked down on Boko Haram activities. It didn't stamp out the group, and, according to Human Rights Watch, the security forces "engaged in the indiscriminate arrest, detention, torture, and extra-judicial killing of those suspected to be supporters or members of the Islamist group."

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