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9.1.15

Quote: Voltaire + Notes on #JeSuisCharlie

Quote: Voltaire | Ses Rêveries

My thoughts are with the families of the dozen Charlie Hebdo shooting victims. However, I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.

The Charlie Hebdo shooting is a global issue very dear to my heart. Ever since my early primary school days when I first saw Christiane Amanpour on TV reporting on what I think was the 9/11 attacks but my memory's a bit fuzzy, I've been a little obsessed with journalism and the significant role it plays in political and cultural issues around the world.

I wasn't familiar with Charlie Hebdo before this attack but, like Voltaire, I am familiar with basic human rights. So it was of course a no brain that I would selflessly join the rest of the world in offering my support, support for freedom of the press and freedom of speech in general. And several other Nigerians have as well! Meanwhile, as it stands, God-knows-how-many journalists in Nigeria have suffered the same fate at the hands of our own corrupt government and for the most part, we have done nothing in comparison.

As citizens of a country whose foundations are built on corruption, bigotry and dated religious views (but only when it suits us, of course), we do not know the meaning of freedom, much less in journalism. We export or reproach talented writers and abstain from activists, happy to consume the overly cautious or completely illegible garbage in our abominable newspapers mostly run by illiterates who undoubtedly have reserved parking spaces in certain people's pockets. Many of us are either trained not to air our political views on certain issues outside our intimate circles, or refrain from having any views at all. Because it's not our problem, right?

And those who do attempt to challenge have most likely been on the receiving end of many a warning nudge or patronizing head shake from those in the know - because that's not how it works here, right? And by conceding, they too eventually forfeit the basic human right the twelve Charlie victims were killed for as well.

The internet, and social media in particular, has made it virtually impossible not to become emotionally invested in violent and upsetting cases like this as the world feels more and more like one big-ass town. But in this case, I think a bit of retrospection is in order for a lot of us. Because as long as we continue to condone the idea that some things are "better left unsaid" when it comes to our problematic country (indeed, this can be applied to countless other cases but I'm reflecting here), we can support the movement but let's not be deceived by the hash tag: nous ne sommes pas Charlie.

Not even close.




[UPDATE: Nigerians never fail to disappoint, myself included. I do not own a TV here in uni as, if I did, I would be on E4 everyday while my grades slip and slide all over the place. As a result though, I rely almost entirely on social media for my news updates hence why the Charlie Hebdo attack made me entirely ignorant of the latest Boko Haram attack until Sunday. If my Twitter trends weren't tailored to Lagos for the purpose of keeping up with my country (and avoiding the ever-trending Swifties/Lovatics/Directioners etc hash tags), I wouldn't necessarily be surprised. But still, somehow, Paris took precedence over an attack that claimed over a hundred times the number of lives, from what I've gathered, inside Nigeria as well - with some still happily "Je Suis Charlie"-ing away with nothing but "RIP"s and "what a shame"s for the people who could just as easily have been them. I mean, where is the patriotic solidarity? I'm not saying hash tag activism is the key to ending terrorism, nor am I even remotely trivializing the Charlie Hebdo attack or what I believe Je Suis Charlie stands for as explained above (even though I've read a bit about the magazine and don't particularly condone how they seemingly prey on discrimination as a marketing ploy to disguise what are usually intelligently written, insightful and non-prejudicial pieces) - nor am I trivializing the value of any one life in general. But anything, anything at all is better than this. We're not just attacking our own people now, we're disparaging them too. It really does exemplify the collective feeling of hopelessness even I felt when I was back home. With the Chibok girls, there was hope; a chance they were still alive and that our government could redeem themselves by bringing them back. In this case, it's just more unnecessary deaths probing the north-south tension that, as far as I'm concerned, will inevitably bring the country to its knees. When can we move to Mars? Because I'm done with Earth.]









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