I’m nearing the end of Africa for the International Literary Project. It’s been an enlightening experience and I’m toying with the idea of adding more books to the list. Africa is fascinating, overwhelming and elusive. There is so much history and diversity that attempts to understand what the countries and the people are seems impossible. After reading hundreds of pages about various countries in Africa during different periods in the 20th and 21st centuries, I don’t feel that I have a better understanding about – well anything. I’m not sure what drives Africans, I can’t identify the core challenges facing African societies and I definitely can not fathom a solution to the many ills that plague the continent.
For all those reasons, the news about the Nigerian students being held captive is even more disheartening. I generally have high minded ideas about how to fix problems. Naive or otherwise, at least I have an opinion. Aside from using every resource the world can muster to find these girls and return them to their homes, I’ve got nothing. I’m very glad this story is receiving international attention and I hope the girls are safely recovered from their captors. Unfortunately, I fear the end of the story we hear won’t truly be the end of the story. We might get a TIME or People “Where are They Now?” article in a couple years but will people in this country continue to pay attention to Africa once the sensation is over? Probably not.
Twitter hashtags are great but I hope the crimes against humanity that are being perpetrated in Africa on a daily basis aren’t forgotten once this crisis is over. If you’re interested in reading about one child’s struggle in a war torn country let me recommend A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. It’s a powerful memoir and I finished it in a day.