Monday, May 26, 2014

Are We Friends?

I read an article recently that made me reflect on my relationship with some of my friends.

I'm the last of five children and many people assume that because I come from a large family, I have a large group of friends, but I actually don't.  I've always felt a bit out of place. To an extent, I consider my family to be my closest friends, and outside my family, I have very few people that I trust and that I get close to.


Growing up, I was always the youngest kid in my classes since I was enrolled in Kindergarten at 3 and skipped a few grades.  When I would bring friends home to meet my siblings, those friends would suddenly no longer be my close friends anymore.  They would get along with my siblings a lot more than with me (likely because of the age difference?), and even though we were friends first, they would no longer be close friends with me. This happened so often that I got used to losing friends or at least sharing them to my exclusion.  Initially, it hurt a lot to lose so many friends, but I accepted that maybe we just weren't as close as I assumed.

Also, I confided in no one outside of my family so I never really felt comfortable venting with my friends or calling them to share my problems because I was raised to keep my struggles hidden.  I actually don't think I know how to call my friends and shoot the shit (so to speak). It feels so strange because I'm so used to solving all my problems on my own.


For the past few weeks, I've been feeling a bit odd about a number of my friendships because I started to notice that even though I may think I'm close to someone, my definition of close may not be the same as theirs.  I feel like the forgotten friend.  I'm not so distant as to be excluded from attending your wedding altogether, but I'm certainly not bridesmaid material.  I've never even been asked to be a bridesmaid (and I have three siblings).  And to be fair, I'm not sure if I've ever expected to be asked even though I've wanted it.

I'm the forgotten friend.

I'm usually the one you forget to tell your good news, and I'm convinced that there's something about what I'm projecting to others about the type of friendship that I want that makes this so.


The truth is I'm quick to cut off friendships that feel one sided instead of actually speaking with my friend about my concerns.  I have this naive belief that friendship should be very easy, and any tiny bump in the road feels like a wall.  I want to save myself from future heartache by ending the friendship, but maybe herein lies my problem.  The energy I'm projecting is a lack of willingness to fight for my friendship.

I'm so busy projecting this self-sufficient image that I forget that I can lean on my friends.  Maybe my close friendships aren't that close at all...


I have been struggling with one friendship in particular for the past few weeks, and one thing I can say about this friendship is that I don't ever have to be afraid that she'll leave me alone.  We may not always agree.  We may fight like siblings, but she has a very special place in my heart.  She knows we owe each other a heart-to-heart soon to catch up, but I know she's going through some serious shit right now and she needs a shoulder to lean on.  I'll be that.

I may not see myself as a great friend all the time, but I'm going to fight for this one and see where it goes.

Monday, May 5, 2014

#BringBackOurGirls

There are varying reports on how this happened exactly, but this much is indisputable: On April 15, 2014, in Northern Nigeria, a large number* of girls were kidnapped from their boarding school.  They were supposed to be taking proctored exams that day, but instead members of the terrorist group Boko Haram put them into trucks, buses and vans, and burned down their school.  Days later, some or all were sold across the border as child brides.

*Something as simple as the actual number of kidnapped girls is yet to be confirmed and it has been three weeks since they were kidnapped. I've been reports that say there were only 100+ kidnapped, and others that say almost 300 were taken. News outlets, do better.

For at least two weeks, no major news outlet said anything about the kidnapping.  It seemed like no one cared. In the eyes of the world, these girls are nameless, voiceless things, not real people. No one seems to care about their promise. No one seems to care that in Northern Nigeria where most girls are simply expected to learn how to be good wives, these girls were building their minds.  The very act of going to school was their rebellion against patriarchy.

When I lived in Nigeria, I remember going to after-school programs on my own (what Nigerians call "lesson").  I would walk long distances in new places to get to lesson and head back home on my own without incident. I was only 9 or 10 years old when I began going to lesson on my own--I was already in middle school by then. I would confidently leave my school with my friends and walk to lesson.  We did this on purpose because it would mean we could use the money we had been given to take public transportation on yummy street food. Street food was forbidden in my home but it was my secret guilty pleasure.  We would eat suya (usually the really fatty cheap kind) and dundun wrapped in newspapers.

I could have been one of these girls. Taken away simply because I was young and vulnerable. I don't even know if I would have had the courage to fight.  But children should not be expected to fight on their own.  Adults are supposed to fight to protect children.  

We failed these girls for so long. No one cared; no one looked.  Even the First Lady of Nigeria, Patience Jonathan, seems to shed crocodile tears as she does nothing to hasten the search.  Does she honestly believe that having a few more proctors would have stopped this kidnapping? I felt like I was watching a really bad actress try to cry, and I'm offended.


I feel powerless to do anything to find these girls, but at least I can talk about these girls often and make sure we don't forget.

Today I saw list of the names of some of the kidnapped girls.  This list has not been verified but it is something.  Read their names aloud.
1. Deborah Abge
2. Awa Abge ”
3. Hauwa Yirma ”
4. Asabe Manu ”
5. Mwa Malam pogu ”
6. Patiant Dzakwa ”
7. Saraya Mal. Stover ”
8. Mary Dauda ”
9. Gloria Mainta ”
10.Hanatu Ishaku ”
11. Gloria Dama ”
12. Tabitha Pogu ”
13. Maifa Dama ”
14. Ruth kollo ”
15. Esther Usman ”
16 Awa James
17 Anthonia Yahonna
18 Kume Mutah
19 Aisha Ezekial ”
20 Nguba Buba ”
21 Kwanta Simon.
22 Kummai Aboku.
23 Esther Markus
24 Hana Stephen.
25. Rifkatu Amos
26 Rebecca Mallum
27.Blessing Abana.
28. Ladi Wadai
29. Tabitha Hyelampa.
30 Ruth Ngladar .
31 Safiya Abdu .
32 Na’omi Yahonna.
33 Solomi Titus .
34Rhoda John
35 Rebecca Kabu
36. Christy Yahi.
37. Rebecca Luka.
38. Laraba John
39 Saratu Markus.
40. Mary Usman.
41 Debora Yahonna.
42.Naomi Zakaria
43 Hanatu Musa
44. Hauwa Tella
45.Juliana Yakubu.
46. Suzana Yakubu
47.Saraya Paul.
48. Jummai Paul
49. Mary Sule
50. Jummai John.
51.Yanke Shittima.
52. Muli Waligam .
53. Fatima Tabji.
54. Eli Joseph.
55.Saratu Emmanuel.
56. Deborah Peter.
57.Rahila Bitrus.
58. Luggwa Sanda.
59. Kauna Lalai.
60. Lydia Emmar.
61.Laraba Maman.
62.Hauwa Isuwa.
63. Confort Habila.
64. Hauwa Abdu.
65. Hauwa Balti.
66.Yana Joshua.
67.Laraba Paul.
68.Saraya Amos.
69. Glory Yaga.
70. Na’omi Bitrus.
71. Godiya Bitrus.
72. Awa Bitrus.
73. Na’omi Luka.
74. Maryamu Lawan.
75. Tabitha Silas.
76. Mary Yahona.
77. Ladi Joel.
78. Rejoice Sanki.
79. Luggwa Samuel.
80.Comfort Amos.
81. Saraya Samuel.
82. Sicker Abdul.
83.Talata Daniel.
84. Rejoice Musa.
85Deborah Abari.
86. Salomi Pogu.
87.Mary Amor.
88. Ruth Joshua.
89Esther John.
90. Esther Ayuba.
91. Maryamu Yakubu.
91. Zara Ishaku.
93. Maryamu Wavi
94. Lydia Habila.
95. Laraba Yahonna.
96. Na’omi Bitrus.
97.Rahila Yahanna.
98. Ruth Lawan.
99. Ladi Paul.
100 Mary Paul.
101. Esther Joshua.
102. Helen Musa.
103. Margret Watsai.
104. Deborah Jafaru.
105. Filo Dauda.
106. Febi Haruna.
107.Ruth Ishaku.
108.Racheal Nkeki.
109. Rifkatu Soloman.
110.Mairama yahaya.
111.Saratu Dauda.
112.Jinkai Yama.
113.Margret Shettima.
114.Yana yidau.
115. Grace Paul.
116. Amina Ali.
117. Palmata Musa
118. Awagana Musa
119. Pindar Nuhu
120.Yana Pogu.
121. Saraya Musa
122. Hauwa Joseph.
123. Hauwa kwakwi.
125. Hauwa Musa.
126. Maryamu Musa.
127. Maimuna Usman.
128. Rebeca Joseph.
129.Liyatu Habitu.
130. Rifkatu Yakubu.
131. Naomi Philimon.
132.Deborah Abbas.
133. Ladi Ibrahim.
134. Asabe Ali
135. Maryamu Bulama.
136.Ruth Amos.
137.Mary Ali
138. Abigail Bukar
139 Deborah Amos
140. Saraya Yanga
141. Kauna Luka
142. Christiana Bitrus
143.Yana Bukar
144. Hauwa peter
145.Hadiza Yakubu.
146.Lydia Simon
147. Ruth Bitrus .
148.Mary Yakubu
149.Lugwa Mutah.
150 Muwa Daniel.
151 Hanatu Nuhu
152. Monica Enoch.
153. Margret Yama.
154.Docas yakubu.
155. Rhoda peter
156. Rifkatu Galang
157. Saratu Ayuba.
158. Naomi Adamu.
159. Hauwa Ishaya
160. Rahap Ibrahim
162. Deborah Soloman.
163. Hauwa Mutah
164. Hauwa Takai.
165. Serah Samuel.
166. Aishatu Musa.
167. Aishatu Grema.
168. Hauwa Nkeki
169. Hamsatu Abubakar
170.Mairama Abubakar.
171 Hauwa Wule
172. Ihyi Abdu
173. Hasana Adamu.
174. Rakiya Kwamtah
175 Halima Gamba.
176. Aisha Lawan .
177. Kabu Malla
178. Yayi Abana.
179. Falta Lawan.
180. Kwadugu Manu