As I prepared this Op-ed my heart is heavy as I think about the appalling kidnapping of nearly 300 girls in the Northern Nigerian state of Borno, Nigeria at the hands of the terrorist group Boko Haram. Boko Haram, which literally translates as ‘Western Education is Sinful’, kidnapped these innocent girls for the simple fact that they went to school. Op-ed by Claudine Moore.
This incident has set Nigeria back, and some may argue Africa as a whole, 50 years in terms of global perception, and has over shadowed the World Economic Forum on Africa which for the first time was taking place in Abuja the capital city of Nigeria.
On the dawn of Nigeria announcing they were Africa’s biggest economy a moment of motivation and a chance to position the country and by default the continent as a place of progress, Boko Haram committed their first terror attack on the capital just 8 days later.
This was the first terror attack on the capital city in two years. On the same day they committed one of the most shocking and boldest moves of a terror organization since 9/11, by kidnapping nearly 300 children, the most despicable of crimes. In recent days, there have been more bombings and the kidnapping of more children.
The global conversation pertaining to Nigeria is squarely on the news surrounding these bombings and kidnappings and rightly so for nothing is more important then the killing and brutalization of innocent men, women and children. Nevertheless, it must be noted, this is mission accomplished on behalf of the terrorists for their remit is to halt progress not promote it. Their remit is to halt progress by intimidating and bullying the masses, ultimately distracting and thwarting steps towards progress.
I have been reading with woe many people discussing the lack of importance of the WEFAfrica considering the campaign #Bringbackourgirls and the security issues in the Nigeria. This to me is dangerously simplistic, overwhelmingly short sighted and plays directly into the hands of the terrorist organizations.
In the world we live in people, influencers, executives and government officials have to be multifaceted focusing on more then one thing as we pursue goals. Specifically, we must all raise awareness, campaign and lend our voice, influence and resources to the plight of the Chibok girls, and the lack of education both boys and girls face across the continent while we simulateneously raise awareness and work on all the progressive opportunities that abound across the continent.
Opportunities is where growth is found, and growth is what will ultimately fuel progress leading to improved lives for all including equal access to education, increased security and poverty reduction which are all elements and part of the steps needed in thwarting terrorism.
During the WEFAfrica the dialogue will focus on security Africa wide, and what the regional African and global community should and will do to assist in finding the missing children. I will go as far as stating that the lion share of the conference should be focused on this, but we should still portion focus on the discussion of the investment opportunities, sustainable growth opportunities across multiple industries, and job creation. To not do so is playing directly into the hands of terror organization by allowing their activities to manipulate all facets of African governance, politics and business.
To not also continue to emphasize the important and significance of WEF, and the findings from the forum plays directly into the hands of terror groups. There remit is to halt progress with violence, thus creating stagnated growth which serves their cause.
Dr Martin Luther King defiantly said during the violent US civil rights movement‘…keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on…’. This message pertains to all African’s on the continent and across the diaspora…as we actively and passionately campaign to #Bringbackourgirls we have to also keep our eyes on the prize of Africa’s progress.
As we fervently tweet, write and draw attention to the plight of the missing children, lets also continue our work towards Africa’s progress by also focusing on WEFAfrica and its discussions and policy recommendations for growth. This dual process is what is needed to assist with immediate issues, and for the long-term sustained progress on the continent which is the ultimate destination for all us committed to growth and prosperity which is a key tool in the global battle against terror.
Claudine Moore (@ClaudineMoore) is an award-winning communications executive and founder of C Moore Media headquartered in New York City. Claudine is also a columnist with top media outlets including CNN and specializes in African topics and news. Claudine spends a significant amount of her time traveling across Africa for both business and pleasure.