A Chilling and Familiar Story....So what's new? And what's news?

Elspeth Dugdale | May 6, 2014

Since it was 'Breaking News' across the BBC Africa website 3 weeks ago, the story of the 230 abducted girls from a Nigerian boarding school on April 14th has been not been widely reported or discussed. But it should be impossible to forget or overlook.

From a Ugandan perspective, I am surprised not to have read any articles drawing parallels between this horrific incident in Nigeria and the 'Aboke Girls' abduction in northern Uganda by Kony's LRA near Lira in 1996.  Another group of vindictive, lawless rebels acting in the 'name of God' and stealing schoolgirls to use as slaves, for rape, as soldiers' wives (in every sense of the word) and as a bargaining tool. Many WTA students live around the same Aboke community, near Lira. Previous students would also give astonishing first hand accounts of being in Aboke on that dreadful night that 130 girls were stolen. anthropology_aboke_girls1.gif



So what makes news?  And why? It is hard to fathom why so little news coverage has been given to so terrible an event as the loss of '230' girls. There is a shocking tendency to overlook and bypass tragic news from Africa. And the reasons for this may be complex but may still be unacceptable.

Imagine the headline '200 girls abducted from British boarding school'  - unrealistic?  unlikely? the stuff of nightmares?  It would be treated so differently of course. At last, momentum continues to build on the 'stolen schoolgirls' story, from Nigeria. They are not merely a group .. but a group of friends, of Marys, Graces, Janes, Helens, Susans, Deborahs, Jackies etc ..... and they would far rather be in school doing their exams and hanging out together. And each girl of course has grieving, desperate distraught parents and families - they cannot be forgotten because it's 'just another story' from Africa.

Further reading:

http://observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23472:recollections-of-the-aboke-girls-abduction Aboke Girls

'Aboke Girls' Els De Temmerman

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27283383 Boko Haram to 'sell' abducted girls