Educated Daughters Breed Misogyny
Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
Not my poems or a dance I gave up in the street
But somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
Like a kleptomaniac working hard & forgettin while stealin
This is mine/ this ain’t your stuff/
Now why don’t you put me back & let me hang out in my own self
Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
& didn’t care enough to send a note home…
– Excerpt from Ntozake Shange’s,
For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf
Ntozake Shange’s character from her acclaimed choreopoem is the first thought that surfaced when I read about the kidnapped Nigerian daughters. In the poem, the Lady in Green paints a picture of metaphorical thieves who walked off with all of her stuff! She is angered at the thought that she so freely relinquished the truest elements of self in hopes of finding a man. Today, however, there is a different hope. Over 200 Nigerian daughters hoped for a better way of life through education. While they occupied desks and focused their attention on learning, somebody impermissibly and literally walked off with their stuff. The thieves known as the militant group, Boko Haram, kidnapped the students more than two weeks ago and have not been heard from since.
Without warning, without provocation someone has walked off with our daughters. No warning, no note, and no regard for their young lives.
BRING THEM BACK.
I am an African, a mother and a daughter. I am raising an African-American daughter in a country where her hopes are manifested through hard work and, for the most part, stifled only through indolence. Other daughters who are committed to their hopes and dreams surround my daughter. They believe in each other; they are free to dare and take risks in the quest to fulfill their desires. My daughter and her friends care about education and believe in its possibilities. I am hopeful that she will not experience the tyranny of a nation where militant forces and rebel groups can walk off wid alla her stuff.
I am saddened today, yesterday and the days prior… It is perplexing to me that no one seems to know the whereabouts of the Nigerian daughters. There is speculation that the daughters have been sold as brides. But, speculation does not assuage fears or ease the pain. It perpetuates worry and raises more questions.
I can’t help envisioning each daughter waking that morning, making preparations for the day and heading off to the Chibok boarding school. I see them sitting attentively in their classrooms, as they listen to the teacher. I hear them laughing at a light remark. Then I hear their gasps, as they become startled at the chaos in their midst. I hear them screaming and scrambling to escape the rebels that have stormed their dwelling. I hear them whimpering in captivity as they are whisked off into the dense forest bordering Cameroon – losing all of their stuff.
I am saddened today and yesterday. History repeats itself yet again. In 1996, a Ugandan religious extremist group entered the St. Mary’s School and abducted 130 daughters between the ages of 11 and 16. The Lords Resistance Army was on a mission to impose a state based on the Biblical 10 commandments. Sister Rachele Fassera, headmistress of the school in Aboke, bravely risked her life to rescue 109 of the young girls. The rest were forced to become wives of rebel commanders.
I am saddened today. Someone should have seen this coming. The Boko Haram is not an unknown faction of rebels that recently appeared on the scene. Formed in 2002, their mission was to promote Islamic education and create an Islamic state. Their adversity to Western culture is girded in the belief that women should not be educated. According to their version of Sharia law, women should be at home raising children and looking after their husbands, not getting an education.
The Boko Haram’s terror has no partiality to status or influence. Their usual tactic is to send gunmen on motorbikes to kill anyone who criticizes their mission. In 2009, hundreds were killed in bombing attacks on government buildings and police stations. In fact on the same day and prior to the abduction of the daughters, more than 70 people were killed in a bus bombing on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital.
Why haven’t they been stopped? Why are they able to disappear with our daughters – walking off with all of their stuff? Why has the government been so cavalier in their response? Why are the families of the kidnapped daughters the only ones in an uproar? Why are fathers scraping pennies together for motorbike fuel in order to search for their daughters in the nearby areas? Why isn’t the police force paid a proper wage, so they can do the job to prevent these heinous crimes?
I am saddened. Bring our daughters back! They were wrongfully taken – kidnapped. Mothers are marching, fathers are searching, people are speaking and something must be done. The efforts to rescue our daughters must be swift and effective and should not be defined by political influence, financial resources, or agendas. The efforts should not be governed by fear. Our daughters must be rescued before it is too late. The longer it takes the greater the chance that they lose hope. Hope is all that our daughters will carry as they stare their captors in the face. Rescue them now before they lose that too.
Sign the petition to Bring Back Our Girls.