Jumoke Balogun argues that anger at Western media for not reporting the recent Baga massacre is misplaced.
Yes, you are right. The Western media is not paying attention to the tragedy in Nigeria where 2,000 people were slaughtered by Boko Haram. On the front page of the New York Times on Tuesday morning were two stories on the tragedy in Paris, the Washington Post followed with a story as well, and USAToday dedicated most of its front page to France for their fourth publication in a row. I stay away from network and cable news, but I’m sure that they follow the same pattern of coverage.
You may conclude, as many have done on social media, that this is due to inherent racial biases of Western media, or you could take a more forgiving route that the lack of coverage is unintentional mainly because the nearest journalists are hundreds of miles away from the scene of the massacre and that the only official reports come from the Nigerian military, an institution that we all know has a poor reputation when it comes to statistics.
However, your anger at Western media for the lack of coverage on the massacre in Baga is misplaced for the following reasons:
- Media coverage won’t stop Boko Haram’s bloody rampage (see #bringbackourgirls)
- Raising awareness won’t give the Nigerian government the willpower to fight Boko Haram (see #bringbackourgirls)
- Nigerian political elite do not value the lives of their compatriots (see #bringbackourgirls)
I get it. It is baffling to see hours and hours of punditry and front pages dedicated to the death of 17 people, while there seems to be complete silence and tacit disregard for the 2,000 men and women and children in Baga who were hunted, shot, burned alive, and drowned. Many are outraged not only because of the brutality and barbarity of what happened in Northern Nigeria, but also because the numbers are so disparate between the tragedy in Paris and the massacre in Baga.
TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE. Murdered. Vanquished. Gone. It’s maddening.
But let’s be frank, if this is about body count, then where is our collective outrage, our condemnation and the front pages for Syria and the 200,000 lives that have been lost in its protracted civil war? In a world so broken and dejected, we only sully ourselves in the gutters of global tragedy Olympics when we resort to squabbling about media coverage and disparate numbers. It doesn’t get us anywhere.
And please permit me to be even more candid, outrage at Western media is so shockingly simplistic and useless because it distracts our attention from the thieving pot belly political elite in Nigeria who are complicit in this massacre and who have little regard for the lives lost.
Because while you are tweeting your outrage about the lack of coverage, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, a proven good-for-nothing imbecile, has not said a word about it and is busy posting party photos on Facebook. While you simmer in anger about the massacre in Baga not being front page news on CNN, the good-for-nothing imbecile sent a statement of condolences to France, calling the attack on Charlie Hebdo dastardly. He joins members of his cabinet and other African political elites who have kept quiet about the Baga massacre but have sent similar messages of solidarity to France. Six African heads of state actually made it to Paris to stand in solidarity with France.
Further, from Al Ahram in Egypt to the Vanguard in Nigeria to the East African in Kenya, the leading newspapers also do not seem to want to concern themselves with this African tragedy. It seems that the African elite haven’t gotten the memo that #blacklivesmatter.
And in a country where Charlie Hebdo is every day, a country in constant state of trauma, a nation paralysed by tragedies big and small, there are no scenes of mass mobilisations, condemnations, or mass showings of solidarity. Why?
Because my people are tired. Because they understand all too well that those charged with protecting and serving them have no regard for their humanity.
Consequently, focusing indignation on Western media and not at Aso Rock and those in Abuja who continually demean and degrade Nigerian lives is naïve and does great disservice to the victims of Baga. Because unless we collectively and continuously focus our just and righteous rage at Abuja and root our analysis and critique against the Nigerian government who have allowed the spread of this scourge, the killings and massacres will only continue with impunity.
Jumoke Balogun is the cofounder of CompareAfrique.com.
This post originally appeared on CompareAfrique.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author and in no way reflect those of the Africa at LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science.