The author of this reflection is Fr. Ali C. NNAEMEKA, a young Nigerian Oblate who recently arrived as a missionary to the Innu people in Mani-Utenam, Quebec, Canada. In his native country, his people are being terrorized and murdered by the Boko Haram. Thousands have been killed in just the second week of 2015. But the world barely notices!
The greatest joy of a victim of injustice is to see others, like human right activists, rise up in his or her defense, or to see people who can say NO! to oppression and stand up for him or her. The terrible incident of last week that led the founder of Charlie Hebdo and 11 other French citizens to their early graves might be the most notorious of its kind this year, 2015. The target of the perpetrators was to silence one of the most courageous voices of our era. It was an incident that the future generation would never forget. However, the situation provokes an important question: Did the perpetrators of the dastardly act really succeed in silencing Charlie Hebdo? The answer is obvious, because in killing those journalists, the terrorists ended up resurrecting thousands of other ‘Charlies’. And since their death, “Je suis Charlie!” has become the new slogan of all those who believe in freedom of expression.
Unarguably, from Paris to Montréal, from the Élysée to the White house, from the Imam of Paris to the Pope, etc., condemnations poured in over the contemptible act by the terrorists; and today, Je suis Charliehas become the words in the mouth of every Tom, Dick and Harry. It is in fact the new motto of journalism and the war against terrorism.
However, my problem is that I am also ‘Charlie’, «Je suis aussi Charlie», but I did not know that all ‘Charlies’ are not equal. I was convinced until now that it was enough to be ‘Charlie’ to draw a global attention to my daily massacre and death. The famous saying in George Orwell’sAnimal farm: that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” never appeared to be true to me till I heard of the death of the French ‘Charlies’.
Only in 2014, I, the northern Nigerian ‘Charlies’, died more than 3500 times, and more than 250 of my young girls were kidnapped, without the world organising an international summit on terrorism. Again, while twelve ‘Charlies’ were dying in France, other innumerable‘Charlies’ were being massacred by the members of Boko Haram at Baga in Northern Nigeria; without any finger raised by the world.
The worst is not just that the world leaders are organising a world summit after the death of twelve French ‘Charlies’, but that while I am being battered and burned, my president and his political opponents are roaming the country, well-armed, in electoral campaigns. While I am dying, all the Nigerian politicians are interested in is going about promising Nigerians fake roads to be constructed, a utopian peace to be created, still-non-realisable security to be provided, invisible schools to be constructed, etc. Even my compatriots and the religious leaders are not concerned with my situation. What matters most for them is which presidential candidate is from their tribe, or is a member of their religious group. Yet, “Je suis aussi Charlie!”
I am really ‘Charlie’! How would I not be ‘Charlie’ until I see that African presidents, just like their fellow western presidents, will have finally realised that terrorism is an evil to be eliminated? Yet, despite my being a ‘Charlie’, the presence of six African Presidents in Paris during the solidarity rally reassures me that if I had been born in France or in other western countries, our death (we the Northern Nigerian ‘Charlies’) in thousands only this week, would have drawn a multitude of world leaders to Baga.
I am ‘Charlie’ and I die every day in Northern Nigeria and even if no one speaks about it, I will always remain unfortunately ‘Charlie’. “Je suis aussi Charlie!”