Chibundu Onuzo is a Nigerian writer with one novel to her name; The Spider King’s Daughter. If you read my review of the book you will know that I am a big fan. A statement she gave on her blog on what has been happened in recent times has me even more enthusiastic about her.
Her statement was on the recent attack in Baga Nigeria vis-a-vis the reactions to the attacks on
racist satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. To put it in context it was reported that 2,000 people died in Baga, Nigeria from Boko Haram attacks. These were followed by 19 people dying in a market attack by a 10 year old suicide bomber. In the same week 12 died when two gunmen attacked the Paris, France offices of Charlie Hebdo including staffers of the magazine and one policeman. Within days there was another four dead when bad guys took some Parisians hostage including three of the hostiles.
The two tragedies could not be compared as the deaths in Nigeria were higher in number by far but the world opted to mourn loudly the passing on of the 18 French persons. Chinundu’s take on this? She acknowledges that terrorist attack in France is news while one in North Eastern Nigeria is no longer news due to the regularity if these types of happenstances. She goes on to state;
“Sometimes you want to make sure that you’re still normal and it is not because you think white lives matter more that you immediately knew what the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag meant but you had to google #bringbackourgirls when that campaign was born. So you try empathy. Empathy is the fruit of an imagination and imagination is something that writers usually have in excess. So you picture yourself in Baga. 2,000 dead they said, though they never agree. When the ‘they’ is government, 2000 becomes 100. When it’s an NGO, add at least one ‘0’ to the government figure. They all say they are lying.”
You can read the full text of her thoughts here. You can also hear her expounding her position below.