So in the same week that 17 people were killed in Paris, up to 2,000 were slaughtered by Boko Haram in Baga, Nigeria.
The Guardian ran one of the fullest accounts on page 25 – the final page of its international news section. This was a long way after the full 7 pages of news from Paris.
What might this mean?
- Maybe it means that African lives are worth less to us than European lives – about 14,823 times less (2000/17 x 18 [pages later] x 7 [number of pages]).
- Maybe it means that ordinary people’s lives mean less than those in the media – it’s inevitable that the media is going to use all its powers to defend its own.
- Maybe it means we feel the shock of such a thing happening in Paris because it’s a city “like ours” “close to home” and we would therefore hope it would be safe. So we accept terrible things happening in Africa? Why do we accept this?
- Maybe it’s because there are more French people living in the UK than Nigerians. But the figures are uncertain. Last year the Mayor of Brent, Michael Adeyeye claimed that over 1m Nigerians are living in London.
- Maybe it’s because we “so passionately hold to freedom of speech” – yet the work of some Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, like their Danish equivalents, was to deliberately inflame. Is this the freedom of speech we really desire?
- Maybe it’s because once the media machine burst into action, our political leaders knew nothing else than to jump on board. Being seen “alongside” was too easy a shot not to miss. What happened to standing alongside the people of Baga?
- Maybe we didn’t want “our” drama being overshadowed. It’s really good to respond to murderous acts of terrorism with demonstrations of peaceful, unafraid resistance. But if such an act causes such a dramatic response, why does the slaughter of up to 2,000 innocent people barely get a look in?
What do you think it means?