Greetings my fellow Anglicans: Following a series of threats, defiant statements and the kidnapping of girls by Boko Haram, the presence of African and Christian solidarity is required in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the entire African continent. The kidnapping of more than 200 girls by Boko Haram last month has shocked the world, but many Nigerian villagers have been enduring deadly attacks for a year or longer. Thousands have fled across the borders to the neighbouring Cameroon or Chad, or southward to the capital, Abuja.
The statistics are horrific, 147 Christians have been killed in the past year, 87 churches have been torched, and 56 villages have been emptied of all Christians and close to 15,000 people have been forced to flee. The war with Boko Haram has killed close to 12,000 citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; surely any noble Christian and Africans at large, regardless of where he/she lives, should be worried by this statistics, if not, we will have to stop and examine our conscience about this and other related incidents affecting our continent.
This continent was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal irrespective of their religious believes, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.
Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle as the Anglican Students Federation to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free more so as Christians. It ought to be possible, therefore, for Nigerian girls of any religion to attend school without having to be backed up by troops.
It ought to be possible for those poor Nigerian Christian girls to receive equal treatment without interference or fear of reprisal. It ought to be possible, in short, for every African to enjoy the privileges of being an African without regard to his/her religious affiliation. In short, every African ought to have the right to be treated as he/she would wish to be treated, as one would wish his/her children to be treated. But this is not the case.
A Christian girl in Nigeria, regardless of the choice of religious affiliation, ought to have as much chance of completing a high school as a Muslim girl in the same place on the same day, as much chance of completing college, and as much chance of becoming a professional woman.
This is not a just a Nigerian issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination over the choice or inheritance of religious status exist in other sections of our continent, rising tide of discontent that threatens the continental safety. It is a time of domestic crisis and men of good will and generosity in Africa should be able to unite regardless of their religious affiliation. This is not a Nigerian issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the peaceful negotiations because war alone cannot make men see right.
We are confronted primarily with a moral issue as Africans. We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a continent and as a people. It is a time to act as Africans, in our countries and our regions and, above all, in all of our daily lives. It is not enough for our leaders to just talk, they must act. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation as Christians, is to pray for the softening of hearts and attitudes to those who are directly involved in this crisis, pray for the families of those girls and importantly, pray for their safe return to their respective homes.
IF AFRICA CANNOT PUT AN END TO TERRORISM, TERRORISM WILL PUT AN END TO AFRICAN. AFRICA UNITE!!!!
Rethabile P Matlatsa
(52nd ASF President)