Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nigerian Violence

“Troops patrol after clashes kill hundreds in Nigeria.”

I read the headlines and was nearly ready to give up due to “attention fatigue.” That state where you finally hear of one disaster too many in a day. The sort of mind-numbing situation where you just can’t care any more. You are tired. You want to sleep. Yet rather than go to bed, I felt compelled to read more about the situation.

While the Mumbai bombing is grabbing all the international attention and headlines, in Nigeria, a similar scale of violence continues. At least 218 people have been killed in clashes so far between Christian Beroms, Muslim Hausas and animist factions in the city of Jos. 7,000 people have fled ahead of the fighting. Over 500 more were detained by police in connection with the violence.

If that sort of carnage was not enough, Nigeria is also facing a toxic teething drug problem. Twenty five Nigerian children died of renal failure as a result of taking a medicine which was supposed to help them with teething problems. The death toll could go much higher.

It is disconcerting at best to think of the statistical deaths of hundreds as merely figures in a text book or the subject of ill-informed discussion boards, or widely-sweeping and meanderingly-authored blogs (present case included). By objectifying casualties, we are minimizing the cost in human terms. For now, we shall beg the indulgence of the interested and concerned citizens of the world.

In Nigeria, with a population of 146 million (and growing), and a growth rate of 2.025%, that equates to roughly 2.96 million people more each year. The losses of 218 dead pales in comparison to the regular growth rate of 8,114 new Nigerians each day. Likewise, the loss of “only” a few dozen children is not a mathematically large proportion. There is a danger to ignore the minority because the majority is doing alright or quite fine. Or to ignore a less-photogenic problem of economic shock and/or gross population loss just because it is not taking place in a modern media capital.

The questions we must face now are:

  • How can we best hold an interfaith/inter-tribal dialogue for the future?
  • Can we somehow make the statistical measurements equate to healing real bodies and caring for each real soul?
  • How can we put aside religious, economic, and political differences to achieve a better possible peace?
  • How can we ensure mass media biases avoid leading to extremism?
  • Where can I learn more?
What are your thoughts on these questions? Please share your ideas. Farewell and best wishes for safety and security to all our readers.

-Peter Corless.
650-906-3134 (mobile)

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