Saturday, 3 May 2014

#BringBackOurGirls



At first I blanked it out. The horror of it was too much for me to deal with. Then at an event somewhere far from Nigeria, I was asked about the girls. I broke out in goose pimples. Politely, I told those who asked that I did not want to talk about it. Actually, I could not.

I think about those girls. A lot. I do. In my usual way of over-analyzing things, I've imagined what life is like for them on a daily basis. I have. And it breaks my heart in so many places. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I pray. Sometimes I just choose to believe all will end well.
The abducted girls make me remember a story that has stayed with me years after I watched it on TV. It happened in 2011. In a landmark prisoner exchange deal that took over 3 years to broker, Isreal decided to free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Isreali soldier captured and held in the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip. 

According to Israeli government sources, the prisoners released were collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths. If you also take into consideration the fact that 28 percent of the released prisoners were serving life sentences for planning and perpetuating various terror attacks against Isreali targets, then you will understand just how of a sacrifice Isreal made for Gilad. To them, 1,027 Palestinians was the least they could give in return for one of their own.

I wondered about Gilad. If he was married, if he had a love interest who had to deal with the torture of not knowing what had happened to him and if he was ever coming back, if he had a family, siblings who missed him and lit candles hoping for his safe return.  

I cried when I watched the exchange. Though I've never been kidnapped, abducted or forced to stay anywhere without my consent, I could only imagine how Gilad felt and what was going through his mind at the time after being held in Gaza for 5 years. I could only imagine what it felt like to have his life back again.

I think the Isreali government thought about these things too and in a rare show of governance underscored by humanity, they decided to give Gilad his dreams back.

This story haunts me 'cos I keep thinking, 'what is the life of a Nigerian worth?' 
It is so sad because as a citizen I honestly do not know. 

©Naomi Lucas

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