Jean Herskovitz on Last Week's Violence in Maiduguri and Beyond
As I have largely refrained from commenting on last week’s events in Maiduguri – I doubt that a year travelling around does qualify me to add anything meaningful to the analysis, so I rather prefer to read and learn (especially from my beloved comment sections) - I thought this might be appropriate, even more so as I think this is probably the most thoughtful and analytical piece I have yet seen … though of course, nothing of this should be news to any Nigerian, pretty sure about that and nothing of that seriously offers any solutions … … … This article by Jean Herskovits was originally published in Foreign Policy and has been culled from allAfrica.com.
: Violence in North Is Not What It Seems Nigeria
Jean Herskovits, 7 August 2009
Superficially, the story looks similar to -- though it was not connected with -- outbreaks of Islamist fanaticism elsewhere in the world: An Islamist sect run amok, threatening a town's security, demanding an end to Western institutions, and seeking to impose a strict religious code. But instead, the clashes are a northern Nigerian version of what is happening in another (mostly Christian) region of the country, the Niger Delta. Both are violent reactions to the flagrant lack of concern on the part of those who govern for the welfare of the governed.
Ten years of supposed democracy have yielded mounting poverty and deprivation of every kind in
Of course, this most recent eruption -- which left 700 dead, more wounded, and thousands displaced -- had its own peculiarities. Not all uprisings in diverse
The attacks on police stations last week were triggered by different events in different states. In
Last Thursday, after a ferocious battle at Yusuf's heavily fortified
Meanwhile, the excessive force of the military response has compounded the misery of people in
In the early 1980s, a major wave of violence spread from
Meanwhile, Nigerians note that as the violence last week was escalating, their president -- who is himself from the far northern state of Katsina -- chose to leave the country on a visit to
The problems are not new. Nigerians and others who cared to look closely have seen the political venality, lack of concern, and flamboyant lifestyle of the corrupt rich and powerful who have made daily life for the vast majority of the population worse and worse, year after year. A decade ago, with the return of democracy, Nigerians had high hopes. But now, after rigged elections at all levels in 2003 and 2007, and the prospect of nothing different in 2011; with unclean drinking water, a failed electrical grid, unsafe roads, ever rising crime, and a host of other grievances, they have little hope left. The world will misunderstand if it looks at the latest Nigerian tragedy through the lens of global radical Islam. If Nigeria's leaders do not begin urgently to address their country's most basic, obvious needs, the only question is what will trigger the next spate of armed mayhem, and where. It could be anywhere. And its causes, with deep roots in corruption in high places, will be no mystery.
Jean Herskovits is research professor of history at the State University of New York, Purchase. She has been traveling to
The only thing I will probably add, in a week or so, is some summary of the comments regarding (Western) education in the papers I have been reading online, actually surprised there's not been more on that anywhere else yet … if I find time …