Last weekend I was invited to attend an event called Come – Meet – Share organised by the relief organisation «Mission 21». It was a get together of young people from approximately eight different countries in celebration of the charity‘s 200 year jubilee. There was a lot of dancing and laughing accompanied by «Adam‘s Wedding», a Swiss based rock band; most importantly there was food and the entire evening was, in one word, just fun.
What got me thinking, though, was that nobody appeared to be having a bad time, yet most participants came from challenging parts of the world and probably had a lot going on inside the back of their heads. Especially one Nigerian girl got very emotional when she prayed for her country. It‘s not even close to possible for me to imagine what it must feel like watching your government fail in every aspect. For this «Mission 21» has come up with the wonderful idea of solidary bracelets; on each bracelet there‘s the name and age of a victim of Boko Haram written.
Boko Haram is a militant Islamist group based in Nigeria. Their primary goal is to create an Islamic state where western influence of any sort – including education, political or social activity, wearing T-shirts, etc. – is completely forbidden. Their ways are utterly violent; bombings, assassinations and abductions are the daily order, and they don‘t just go against christians but essentially also against «non-believing» muslims.
The name on my bracelet is Hauwa Ntakai who was 20 years old. I keep fidgeting with the rubber wristband and wondering who Hauwa really was. Was it a guy or a girl? Was he or she muslim or christian? Did he or she have a special hobby? Are there people who now mourn the absence of Hauwa?
It‘s just one name out of thousands. I feel like we should remember them all; all the girls who have been raped and forced into marriage by Boko Haram members, all the boys who have been killed in the most gruesome ways, all the people who are now only bodies dumped on the streets and rotting their way into eternity – no one is ever going to know about them. How can someone be the object of cruelty in such inexplicability – and then just be forgotten? I have no idea what happened to this one person called Hauwa but I feel privileged to know the name of someone who endured what I would not wish on my worst enemy. Someone who maybe would have liked «Adam‘s Wedding» and who would have liked eating burgers with us on friday. Someone who maybe was not at all different from the rest of us except for the one tiny detail of having been born in the wrong country.
It feels grotesque sometimes that we should be allowed so much fun when it is denied to so many others. But then again, sometimes dancing your worries away is not the worst thing that can be done.
There was a Nigerian girl that night and I saw her laugh. And whatever reason she had to cry and whatever reason she had to be upset, she still had a reason to be happy.
Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
Please learn a little more about Boko Haram and what is currently happening in Nigeria. BBC has a brilliant article on the topic – read it here!
Also I promised «Adam‘s Wedding» to mention them on my blog, so here goes: Have a look at their Youtube videos, they are great!