Saturday, 24 May 2014

Letter from Africa: Nigeria pride and foreign assistance

In our series of letters from African journalists, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani looks at whether Nigeria's national pride has been hurt by accepting foreign assistance in the quest to find the abducted schoolgirls.
Letter from Africa: Nigeria pride and foreign assistance
I've been visiting Adamawa, one of the north-eastern states currently under emergency rule in Nigeria.

On 10 May, I attended the convocation ceremony of the American University of Nigeria, based in the state capital, Yola.
A video of some of the girls, dressed in Islamic attire, was released by the group

When the school's official singer rendered the American anthem before the that of Nigeria, the crowd around me began to mumble and grumble.

A journalist I know who sat in a different part of the hall told me that the reaction around him was similar.

Guests whispered their strong displeasure at the American anthem being sung ahead of ours, when we were all on Nigerian soil.
The girls were seized from their school hostel around midnight
At the end of the event, I witnessed a staff member frantically explaining to some who accosted him, that the sequence merely followed protocol. He recalled how, in football matches, the visiting team's anthem is usually played first. Ghosts' choir

This incident may come across to some as anti-Americanism, especially at a time when the world superpower has set its sights on Nigeria. Who are Boko Haram?
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened to treat them as slaves
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

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