A discussion on Facebook pointed out the lack of sufficient coverage and emphasis on the tragedy of Nigeria’s struggle with the Boko Haram group, and I have to weigh in. The reasons for our poor information and erratic, ever-corrected “facts” are not, I believe, based in racism. Having lived in Nigeria for many years, I’d like to suggest that communication is a major issue–probably the core.
We had no telephone, though the people down the street did, and when it was operative was anyone’s guess. Cell phones? You need cell phone relays. So expensive too– though I believe the cell phone is the best bet for future reportage. Put up some telephone poles? Termites eat them. Concrete poles? Let’s hope you have a good formula– roads are dangerous and pitted, getting a truck loaded with heavy materials to take the raw materials where you need them and then finding the water to do the mixing is a terrible daunting task. That the Nigerians have done as much as they have, is so much to their credit.
Huge country, some vast areas barely populated, others crowded to the point of suffocation. Radio? Sometimes controlled by the government, and electricity is always expensive and erratic, if it is available where you happen to live. The North of Nigeria is sere and vast and very poor in resources. Even in the relatively wealthy south we’d have the planned blackouts and the unplanned blackouts. So for reportage you essentially have to rely on word of mouth, and when you look into the issues of human recollection and how the mind edits and alters story lines and visual memory as time passes, this is a nightmare. We grow tired when we read reports that are subsequently audited and corrected and we keep getting jerked back to what we thought we understood only to find that someone says that the report wasn’t correct. Please fight your own weariness, and read on, because the blood is real and lives both innocent and not, are lost in this land. I see the young girls abducted, sold, forced into ‘marriages’ as lost lives for now. There’s no going back, there might be some way to go through and past such an experience, but I cannot say.
The above image comes from:http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/the-true-size-of-africa/
Have a look at all of those fascinating maps that depict the relative size of Africa to North America or other countries and you will gain a better sense of the scale of the problem. We all want to pay attention to what is happening in Nigeria, we cannot turn away, we must not forget. But gaining the data to understand it, is going to require a struggle too.