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Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls

(51 Posts)
jinglbellsfrocks Wed 07-May-14 14:13:14

Moving on from the hijack of Bags' thread, I was just thinking.

How many school children have died in Syria? Shouldn't we have been/be up in arms about that? Gransnetters have never seemed to advocate any sort of help for them.

Is it because the Nigerian children are middle class girls?

annodomini Wed 07-May-14 14:24:47

Did anyone say these girls were middle class? The mother I heard on the radio said (through an interpreter) that she was a market trader. If the parents were middle class, they would probably be English speakers. The horrendous fate that these girls are threatened with is what is mobilising the international community. Of course we care about Syrian children and are horrified at the numbers who have lost their lives. The Nigerian girls are lives that can be saved with the right expertise deployed to find them. I don't know why you should be making this into an either/or situation, jingl.

MiceElf Wed 07-May-14 14:36:57

Two wrongs are two wrongs. One does not impact on the other except tangentially. Boku Haram started out as a small Muslim group wishing to support its community through the hard times. North East Nigeria is a horribly deprived area, ignored by the corrupt Nigerian government for decades and equally ignored by the international community. Inevitably it became a target for extreme Islamicists from the Horn of Africa who saw the group and the region as ripe for infiltration and recruitment to their hardline views. The exploited and ill educated leaders were thus easy targets and it's not surprising that they quickly became radicalised and even more extreme than those who influenced them. There has been a failure of all governments within and without Africa, to address these issues in any meaningful way. After all there's no gas pipeline or oil wells there.

penguinpaperback Wed 07-May-14 15:10:42

Agree, completely with annodomini surely it is never either, or?
The story of the schoolgirls in Nigeria emerged weeks ago. So much time has already passed. I cannot imagine how their parents are coping just I cannot imagine how the parents of children in Syria are coping where there is now serious starvation and still the poisons rain down.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 07-May-14 15:21:15

No, of course it's not either/or.

Just interesting to compare GNrs' reaction to the two situations.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 07-May-14 15:24:14

Annodomini I think poorer families could not afford to send their children to school. The cost of books, uniform etc would be prohibitive. That's why I used the words "middle class".

POGS Wed 07-May-14 15:43:10


At PMQ's today David Cameron said that our money provides for 800 thousand children to be educated, 600 thousand are girls. I don't think they are middle class.

This is a news story that has been covered from the outset by T.V. The problem is not by our lazy news stations, it was and still remains top coverage on Aljazeera, then again that is usually the case for world news as they are a better source of world news than say the BBC. I wondered if and when we would see it on our screens.

They had an interview yesterday, you might be able to find it on internet, with the Nigerian Education Minister who was attending an international convention in Doha. He was so laid back he was almost horizontal. At one point he said the government could not speak to Book Haram as they were 'faceless' . Then later in the interview he said they had been in 'dialogue' with them. If he was is typical of the Nigerian Government then I can imagine they didn't really give a s--t.

I think it was reported at one stage the Nigerian First Lady even said it hadn't happened, I have no confirmation of that point.

We have been offering help but until now Nigeria has refused.

MiceElf Wed 07-May-14 15:44:13

As someone who has spent a number of years teaching in Africa, I can assure you that parents will do everything they can to send their children to school. Uniforms are not expensive, they are run up by the village tailor at minimal cost and books, although scarce, are used by the teachers with most lessons being didactic with a lot of rote learning. the term 'middle class' has little meaning in an African context where there are a very very few well to do people and the rest are poor.

MiceElf Wed 07-May-14 15:46:18

Quite right POGS I was about to make similar comments

GadaboutGran Wed 07-May-14 16:05:41

I am sure that many GNers have already contributed to campaigns for money & action to both dreadful situations. But the difference is that wars drag on & on whereas the Nigerian abduction is one dreadful, very identifiable event. The human brain I believe finds it easier to speak about single events, especially as noted elsewhere there action needs to be taken now. Another example closer to home is the clamour around one off traumatic incidents whereas little fuss seems to be made over the vast number of deaths of the elderly from cold, poor care etc. I say seems because often the fuss is spread over a period of time whereas the one-off events have lots of people shouting at the same time so it feels like more. It is also the case that it is not just the event itself that is a factor but the significance & meaning of that event to people & communities - so some get more attention than others unexpectedly.
The idea of class being a factor is an interesting & novel one in this case Jingle. I'm sorry you feel that GNers are uncaring for the reasons you mention- like most groups, I am sure some are & some are not but my experience is that on the whole we are a very caring bunch who are tough enough to act as well as post words.

rosequartz Wed 07-May-14 16:36:29

In my opinion there has been plenty on the news about Syria and the plight of Syrian schoolchildren. I am sure many Gransnetters, like myself, have been helping and doing what they can through charities large and small. (I have supported the Christian Aid Syrian Appeal, the Red Cross and support a small charity called LILY which I have mentioned on other threads).
Who knows or indeed cares what class any suffering child belongs to - there must be Syrian children of all classes needing our help. It is irrelevant.

We cannot just go marching into other countries, and without undercover information what would be the point. Sometimes there is a media clampdown because too much information freely broadcast could jeopardise any potential operation to rescue the kidnapped children.

I hope that much is going on behind the scenes to help free these children.

I worry that not enough is being done to bring an end to the Syrian conflict but would not wish to see Britain embroiled in any more wars.

annodomini Wed 07-May-14 17:08:05

In my youth, I, like Mice, spent several years teaching in Africa - in a government boarding school for the brightest girls in Kenya. Middle class? By no means. We had a few whose parents brought them to school by car, but many arrived at the beginning of the first year without shoes. Uniforms were made by the school tailor and the girls were provided with wool to knit their own school jumpers - it can be cold at 7000 feet. The Kenyatta girls went to the 'posh' - and formerly all-white - boarding school in Nairobi!

Penstemmon Wed 07-May-14 17:49:51

Surely any victims of a civil war, as the actions of Boko Haram and the situation in Syria and also in Ukraine are, deserve our empathy and whatever practical support we can offer. Even if all we can do is put pressure on the government of the country concerned it is better than doing nothing.

Riverwalk Wed 07-May-14 18:36:06

The Syrian crisis is a war of attrition - it's been a long slog and has been discussed on GN over the past two years.

The abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls is obviously going to attract attention because it's quite a startling event ..... more than 200 young girls being whisked away and the government seemingly impotent and incompetent.

No doubt many of the wretched Syrian children languishing in refugee camps are middle class - I can't see it makes any difference.

nigglynellie Wed 07-May-14 19:36:44

I agree with you Riverwalk and cannot for the life of me see what 'class' any suffering child belongs to has anything to do with anything! and I can't see that any right minded person would make any distinction whatsoever. As I understand it education is highly valued in certain countries, and families will go to great lengths to provide it for their children even to the detriment of themselves. It does seem extraordinary than these young girls were at school in a very dangerous remote part of the country without adequate protection, also the sluggish response of their government in trying to recover them - for me this beggars questions!!!!

Wheniwasyourage Wed 07-May-14 19:37:08

While I agree that it's not an either/or situation, it just occurs to me that it is easier to visualise 200/300 girls than it is to visualise so many thousands of children in Syria. That doesn't mean that I disagree with you, Penstemmon; you put it very neatly.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 07-May-14 19:40:25

It doesn't' make any difference. I was trying to understand why the majority of GNrs have always advocated doing nothing in Syria when some posters feel something should be done for these girls.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 07-May-14 19:44:16

I wonder what the US team will do. Try to find them I suppose. And then what?

Penstemmon Wed 07-May-14 19:51:30

Jingle do you think because it is not directly the government of Nigeria that has caused the crisis it is easier to 'understand' the situation whereas in Syria the UK public are less able to comprehend the nuances of the political situation. Also by getting involved in Syria Western governments are afraid they will back a 'losing' side or be involved in a protracted situation but saving girls from slavery/ death is an obvious 'good' deed.

Riverwalk Wed 07-May-14 20:32:31

I don't think the majority of GNrs have always advocated doing nothing in Syria ....... certainly most were against military intervention.

And is that surprising, considering the many thousands of children who were killed in Iraq as a consequence of the Bush/Blair war.

Just imagine, so many thousands of children would still be alive in Iraq, living under Saddam's dictatorship no doubt, but still alive, with their families intact.

nigglynellie Thu 08-May-14 13:03:54

I don't quite see what anyone CAN do in Syria, apart from supporting aid organisations, which a lot of people do - brave medical teams do go he there as well as other war torn countries and do what they can under dangerous and difficult circumstances. There is nothing apart from that that anyone can do, whereas the abducted girls we CAN do something about and most certainly should, the Nigerians permitting of course!!!! I think the reality is that after the lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan, all we can do in the West is help materially where we can but militarily we HAVE to keep out of it which is basically saying that the countries themselves have to sort themselves out, awful as it is.

suzied Thu 08-May-14 15:20:13

I think it's just a reflection of what the media deems a "good story" . I signed an online petition about these girls a couple of weeks ago when the news was full of the missing plane. Well, the plane is still missing but doesn't get a mention, presumably there's nothing more to say unless they do find it. The missing girls has now become an issue, presumably if nothing more is heard of them they will drop our of the news as well.

POGS Thu 08-May-14 15:58:31

Ye Gods this is when I could scream

I have just watched John Simpson, a 'supposed' respected journalist covering the story for BBC News.

He said that this story has taken 3weeks to break. Where the hell has he been? I am a little old lady, who sits too long in her bedroom watching too much tele and even I knew about it!

As I say lazy journalism in this country.

By the way Nigeria is not a poor country, corrupt possibly, yes. It has just overtaken South Africa for wealth.

Riverwalk Thu 08-May-14 16:06:54

In a way POGS it has taken three weeks to break - that is to become headline news.

Even the useless president Goodluck Jonathan didn't make any public comment for three weeks.

For some reason the capsized Korean ferry was major headlines for days, long after there was any hope for those poor children.

I think it often depends on what's of political interest and how accessible the actual site of the news is. sad

POGS Fri 09-May-14 00:23:12


It 'was' headline news on Aljazeera but not here in the UK. They have taken this story seriously from it's outset, why didn't our media?

Going back to my point raised on the 7th. Re the Nigerian First Lady. Labour MP, Dianne Abbott has just said on This Week she had heard the Nigerian First Lady had tried to get one of the mother's of the missing girl's arrested.It certainly fits in with the reporting coming from Aljazeera journalists.

The Nigerian Government have tried to dismiss this terrible act but it was thanks to the good journalism of the likes of Aljazeera, certainly not our news stations, that has kept the momentum up and we are where we are to date.

If Dianne Abbott is correct it proves how useless the Nigerian Government is. Question's should be asked of the hapless Goodluck Jonson and more pressure put on him personally. I think he and his First Lady are now under pressure and will be hopefully be made aware the world is watching them and we don't like what we see. I hope the Nigerian people do not forget how they behaved but I fear corruption is probably so rife they will survive.