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Happy Amnesia

The New York Times’ Op-Ed writer Adabi Tricia Nwaubani from Nigeria remarks on the recent violence in Jos and a Nigerian policy of passivity and selective amnesia.

"I’ve heard it said that we Nigerians are the happiest people on earth. We’re also accused of being passive about issues that would stir up revolutions in other countries. For instance, it’s been just over a week since ethno-religious violence left hundreds dead around Jos, a city in central Nigeria, but the slaughtering of our fellow citizens has already largely faded from our headlines and conversations. The general response to announcements by the police that they have apprehended some of the butchers is, ‘Oh, really?’ Few people I know even care to hear what the brutes have to say for themselves. Amnesia Nigeriana, someone called it: that tendency of Nigerians to blank out national trauma. As it happens, more than anything else, it is the reports that persist on the BBC and CNN that remind us that hundreds of innocent Nigerians, women and children, were slaughtered in their sleep that Sunday night. When I look up at the huge TV screen in the newsroom where I work, there’s usually a foreign reporter with a look of high seriousness, scenes of Jos in the background. Every time Nigeria experiences an episode of violence, we seem to go quiet while the rest of the world becomes fixated. Perhaps it’s understandable that we begin to resent these foreign journalists and the constant focus on our disasters."

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