Page 1

Black - B r i g h t (A Bespoke Approach to Empowerment)

Issue 41

What Makes a Woman Beautiful?



What’s Inside...? Key Features.. ISSN No. 1751-1909 Blackbright News Magazine Registered Office Studio 57 LU2 0QG Tel: 01582 721 605

- Affluenza - do your children have it? (Editorial)


- What makes a woman beautiful?

- Tamara Madden

- Bring back our girls Founder & Managing Editor Myrna Loy Logo Design: Flo Alowaja Photos taken from Google Images Graphic Design: M Loy To view previous issues go to: Blackbright News is a Quarterly Online Publication Printed once annually by Mixam (UK) DO YOU LIKE BLACKBRIGHT NEWS? Would you like to subscribe, donate or sponsor the print of a publication? email:

(Blackbright News is a Philanthropic Publication)

- End of Isolation of Black British Students

BLACK-BRIGHT NEWS Stimulates – Educates – Motivates


Black-Bright News recognises that we live in a world where we can be adversely impacted by what is going on around us or what is being said to, or about us, which could distract us from nurturing our attributes and skills or pursuing our dreams and ambitions. Many of us are discouraged by barriers, or we allow media, peer pressure, values, or social engineering to influence how we should behave or react; or bias and prejudice to dictate our perception of ourselves.

SPONSOR FORM YES! I would like to sponsor a hard copy of Black-Bright News

Amount: _____________________ Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss

Black-Bright News intends to redress the negative stereotype by changing perceptions that are incorrect, while at the same time, motivating the disenfranchised and demotivated. Subliminal messages continue to be perpetuated through media to distract the unaware from their vision. Disenfranchised individuals can be made to believe they are unable to accomplish their goals. Black-Bright News aims to reframe concepts and empower readers by publishing information that is representative, stimulating, relevant and inspiring.

Full Name:


Post Code: Email Address: TERMS & CONDITIONS: Sponsorships are non-refundable.

Black-Bright News is an empowerment tool that promotes a healthier mindset by sharing positive experiences; the benefits of education; the motivations behind successful people and the consequences of lifestyle choices, so that the misguided or confused can make informed choices that are beneficial to them.

Cheques are made payable to Black-Bright Community Services Mail to: 57 Saywell Road Luton LU2 0QG To pay by Paypal, simply send your email address to

In partnership with Blackbright Community Services Limited, (which is an Outof-Hours Social Enterprise that offers a Counselling & Advisory Service) individuals can receive information, counselling, mediation, advocacy, advice and outreach services, or can be signposted to a specialist/organisation who is more qualified to empower and assist.

Black-Bright News Stimulates - Educates - Motivates (Informing the Vulnerable , Demotivated and Disempowered) Tel: +44 (0) 1582 721 605


explained. That thought process of comparing, can either propel a child to work hard to get what s/he wants, or become frustrated with how long the process takes – some even turn to crime or gangs, b ecause gangs are considered prestigious in some circles. Dressing your child up in the latest fashion at a very early age, can be the beginning of the affluenza syndrome. The child learns to expect to be dressed in designer gear. In the beginning, it seemed like it was the parents idea You want to ‘show off’your child, but after a while it becomes expensive; you start berating the child for wanting clothes and footwear, you can no longer afford, but you are the one who has raised the child’s expectation, and it becomes a problem! Young People with affluenza, have a false sense of entitlement so may find it difficult to engage in any activity that requires hard work and sustained effort, because things seem to come easy for them. They may also have a hard time managing frustration or displaying gratification, making it difficult for the individual to build genuine friendships while decreasing sensitivity to the needs of others. It becomes an obsession.

Does your child suffer from ‘affluenza?’ No. it is not a sickness – it is a term used to explain the problems caused by people who pursue money at any cost because they want to be well off/affluent. It starts off at school – they compare themselves to others – how come s/he’s got Adidas and I’ve got these cheap trainers from Primark? Why can’t I have Adidas? Why can’t my parents buy me Adidas? I wonder how much Adidas cost? I want those Adidas - I am going to find out how much they cost, and do whatever I can to get them. In the Caribbean they will call it ‘yu too follow fashion’, i.e. which means being envious of others (coveting), but it lies deeper than that, in my opinion.

Watch for the signs in your child – does s/he get irritable when she can’t get something someone else has? Does s/he show signs of jealousy? Does s/he talk about working towards getting rich and obtaining ‘the dream’? Not necessarily negative traits because they can all motivate a child, but it is important that the child is motivated positively. The Editor

I didn’t like my school shoes. I remember Jane Bennett and Janice always wore shoes from Ravel, and their shoes were always shiny and had a nice shape, and their socks so white. My mother wasn’t poor – she had different priorities and buying me expensive shoes from Ravels wasn’t one of them! But was I following fashion, or did I just appreciate nice things? I think that is what happens – young people strive for understanding and this is where their struggle begins. Young people watch and compare themselves, parents and friends, and start wondering why some parents struggle; why some people have more than others? They don’t understand it. At a young age, they don’t understand poverty and sacrifice and although some parents try to explain, depending on the ‘intelligence’ or learning style of the child, s/he may still not have a clue after it being


opened the door and upon opening the door he was immediately shot in the chest.” This incident sparks memories of the 13-yearold who was shot seven times in 10 seconds by a deputy sheriff in Sonoma Co., Cali. last October after he mistook the airsoft rifle that the boy was carrying for an actual firearm. Two of the rounds that hit the boy, Andy Cruz, proved to be fatal.

A Cop Kills Teen Who Answered Door While Holding Nintendo Controller

The incident took place in the middle of the day and Cruz’s plastic rifle had a transparent middle, prompting critics to contend that the officer, Dep. Erick Gelhaus, should have known the difference instead of shooting Cruz almost immediately, especially considering that Gelhaus served as his department’s armourer. More recently, police in Yakima, Wash. shot a man in the head after mistaking his disassembled airsoft gun for a real rifle.

Officer says she thought Wii controller was a firearm Kit Daniels February 20, 2014

The department’s spokesman admitted that the officer shot the man, who was sitting in his car, after opening his passenger door without warning and without even talking to the driver.

A 17-year-old was killed by police knocking on his door after he opened it while holding a Nintendo controller, according to the attorney of the late teen’s family.

He also said that he thought the airsoft gun had an orange, plastic tip which indicates that it is not an actual firearm.

Two types of Nintendo Wii controllers, neither of which resemble a firearm. Credit: EvanAmos via Wiki

Yet unlike these past two shootings, the Nintendo Wii controller that witnesses say Roupe was holding doesn’t even resemble a firearm.

Christopher Roupe died inside his home in Euharlee, Ga. Friday night after being shot by an officer who was attempting to serve a probation violation warrant for his father. The police officer told the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that Roupe pointed a gun at her when he opened the door, but the family’s attorney, Cole Law, recently told WSBTV that the teenager was actually holding a Nintendo Wii controller. “The eyewitnesses on the scene clearly state that he had a Wii controller in his hand,” he said. “He heard a knock at the door and asked who it was, there was no response so he




ALPHA BOYS SCHOOL REACHES NEW MILESTONES WITH ONLINE RADIO STATION, LAUNCHES FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN FOR ON-CAMPUS RADIO STUDIO Alpha Boys School, the non-profit residential school in Kingston, Jamaica is pleased to announce its online streaming radio station,, has reached the milestone of passing 60,000 unique listeners per month after 5 months of operations. Focusing on its ‘all Alpha, all the time’ format, Alpha Boys School Radio is now launching into the next phase, a fundraising campaign on ( to build the Alpha Boys’ School Radio Studio and Media Lab on the campus at Alpha Boys School. The studio campaign follows on the successful execution of live broadcasting of The Skatalites performance in the United States and launch of the free mobile applications for Android and iOS phones. Online, on your phone and soon live and direct from Kingston, Alpha Boys School Radio is your musical passport to Jamaica!

What Statement are you making? Bedfordshire Police continues to call for the public to support the fight against gun crime with the message: ‘Bedfordshire Police is making a statement about gun crime – are you? If you want action, make your words count’. The message is supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Luton Borough Council as part of a much wider range of enforcement, reassurance and community cohesion activity going on in the town. It is designed to provoke people with information about incidents, where firearms or violence have been used, to put pen to paper and make a statement.

Alpha Boys School Radio is a curated experience of Jamaican hits and hard to find gems. They all share the common thread of having an Alpha student (and often students) producing or performing on the song. Since starting online at, Alpha Boys School Radio has attracted the support of Jamaican and international tastemakers, from Sean Paul to UB40, David Rodigan to Delfayo Marsalis. Both the Tosh family and the Marley family have spread the word to their friends and family as well as Alpha grads like Winston ‘Yellowman’ Foster.

“Since the murder of Paul Foster in April 2013 Luton has witnessed an unusual and worrying increase in gun related and violent crime,” said Chief Superintendent Mark Turner. “That is now being addressed and brought under control but with further help from the public we can ensure an even safer Luton for everyone.

“The support of the music industry has been fantastic,” said radio station General Manager, Rob Connelly. “We’ve watched listenership rise month after month based on the quality of the programming and the support of the Alpha community. We are very excited to take the next step and introduce radio operations and promotions training to current Alpha students.”

“We continue to ask Luton residents to be brave and make statements that will help us bring people to justice. We understand that putting yourself forward in this way could cause concern but we want to reassure people, it might be as simple as a confidential conversation but if it is concerns for yourself or family then talk to us about it, we have measures we can put in place to address these fears and anxieties,” he added.

“Alpha Boys School is committed to expanding its internationally recognized music program,” says Sister Susan Frazer, Director of Alpha Boys School. “Alpha Boys School Radio is such an exciting platform for Alpha students, music and culture fans as well as advocates for at-risk youth worldwide to create and collaborate in positive ways...”

Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins said: “The conviction of Kyle Beckford earlier this year showed the value of the public passing on information. Without key pieces of evidence, that result may not have been possible.”


A £2000 reward is still on offer from Bedfordshire Police and Crimestoppers, to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction for gun crime. Anyone with information relating firearms offences can contact Bedfordshire Police, in confidence, on 101, or text information to 07786 200011. Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

DID YOU KNOW More on the area the missing Nigerian girls were abducted from... 1. Northern (Nigeria) linked up with AlQueda to get strength; 2. Southerners and South South Nigeria are more exposed and educated; 3. There no border control (or borders are porous) because Nigeria is so vast – negotiations can therefore be made with neighbouring countries 4. 1 in 4 blacks all over the world is a Nigerian… 5. The area is currently under civilian rule so no coup… whereas it used to be military rule 6. The abduction was hushed up because of the World Economic Forum was taking place - the abduction was therefore downplayed in order to secure international funding. 7. Education is coveted… in the North, parents are not allowed to educate their daughters. Parents are afraid to send their daughters to school, which is what Boko Haram (below) wants. The school had been closed down, and it was open for exams - Boko Haram, alledgedly took this opportnity to strike and abduct the girls.


Tamara Madden (Artist)

people might become evident. Most certainly, one will see extraordinary images of ordinary black folk. But what Madden has set out to do is pay homage in paint to the true heroes and heroines of our time.

Above ‘Goldilocks’ (2011) by Tamara Natalie Madden (30″ x 40″, acrylic and mixed media on canvas)

Positively influenced by a challenging but rewarding childhood, the artist paints to dignify the indigent. She wrote, “Amazing people surrounded me, including my grandmother, who despite her struggle with poverty and emotional strain, found it in her heart to give back, to care for and support her fellow man. The neighbors would share food, water, and their love for God. I always found that to be amazing, and I wanted the voices of those people to be heard.”

In 2000, contemporary painter Tamara Natalie Madden got a second chance at life. Since then, she has lived by the creed, “Create as much as you can, while you can.” That thinking has lent itself to a prolific body of work, as well as a Jane-of-all-trades approach to life since Madden is also a children’s book author and illustrator, a fine art photographer, a stylist and make-up artist, a master colorist, a vegetarian and health advocate, a blogger, a mom, and a kidney transplant survivor. She lives near Atlanta, but hails from a small, rural town in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica. It was there in Frankfield, high up in the mountainous bush, where the artist resided with her grandmother and others while her mother pursued a better life in America.

Madden states: “Unfortunately, when I began to paint these people, they were not readily accepted, they were still overlooked. I decided to turn the same people into representations of royalty, clothing them in fantastical ornate outfits, and focusing on all that would attract viewers to pay attention to the beauty within.” Around that time, the artist was deeply moved by yet another everyday hero and it made her want, more than ever, to honor those who live unsung even as they save others’ and survive their own lives.

Though steeped in poverty, her early years were filled with the warmth of neighbors, family, and friends. By the time she began to pursue an art career in America as an adult, she was already deeply inspired by the Jamaican people who had surrounded her during her formative years. A precocious child, Madden loved reading books, climbing trees, and helping her beloved grandmother, “Mama,” who was always busy fetching water from the outdoor tank, building fires in the outdoor kitchen to cook meals, boiling water for bathing and washing clothes, and walking, mile after scorching mile, through the blinding white heat come dawn every Saturday morning on the grueling trek to church. If one looks closely at the artist’s subjects, the faces of those towns-


In 2000 before beginning the dialysis treatments, Madden flew home to Jamaica for the first time since leaving as a child. Madden says:

paintings. Adorned with mythological golden crowns, her subjects dazzle with nobility while situated in ethereal landscapes. Inspired by Gustav Klimt, Egyptian and West African royalty, the artist imbues her subjects with power through masterful portraiture and an adroit handling of color. The symbolism in her art puts a spotlight on those who rarely receive one, and celebrates freedom, empowerment and Madden’s own triumph over her illness. Take a look at more of her work at her website by clicking on her name.

I’ve been asked often why I put birds in all of my paintings. Although I’ve discussed it often, I want to make it clear to all of those who support my work that there is purpose behind what I am doing. When I was growing up as a child in Jamaica, we made a sport out of knocking birds out of the sky, or a tree with slingshots. I swear I was a boy back then, but as it turns out, I’ve always been a girl! :0) We did all kinds of things with birds, even ate gross in retrospect. Maybe that’s why I’m a vegetarian now. It wasn’t until I started getting into my teenage years that I began to appreciate their true beauty, grace and freedom. I would watch them fly away and always wondered where they were going and if they got there. In 2000, I started dialysis. Dialysis is for people who have End Stage Renal Disease. You have to go to a clinic or a hospital three times a week and sit in a chair for three to four hours while a machine pulls your blood out of you(via 7 gauge needles) cleans it, and then pumps it back it. Essentially it does what the kidney can no longer do, but it can never fully replace a kidney. There are a myriad of side effects, and then there is the feeling of being trapped...on a machine.

Source: Google and

When I was there, I always brought my sketchbook and my headphones. The sketchbook kept me busy, and kept my mind occupied, and the reggae music drowned out the screams that punctured the air. Pain from frequent leg cramps and a myriad of other things caused people to suffer, and I did my best to escape, despite

Those were the days that I decided that I was going to be a true artist. The ‘counsellor’ would always come around to talk to us. She would always ask me why I drew. I kept telling her of my goals, and even though I didn’t have much then; I whipped out a business card that I printed on my computer. “Check out my website”, I would say, I had created a generic one for free. I had to remain optimistic in the face of death, so when I received that blessed gift from my brother, (this brother with whom she who she had never communicated beyond a chance meeting as children, offered her his kidney, further churning the artist’s fascination with the fortitude of everyday people) given that second chance, I decided that I wanted to fly. I paint birds because they are a true and personal representation of how I feel now. I feel limitless, not bounded by illness or fear. After I received my transplant, I started off running, and now I’m flying. Soon I will be able to soar. Today, Madden continues to elevate ordinary folk to royalty in her


30, slim, smooth-skinned, wrinkle-free, fat-free, cellulite-free, with long hair, preferably blonde, and a look in the eye that says “You know you want me.” That is what many or even most men are up against in our heads when we begin to encounter the world of very real, and very beautiful women who are outside that image. Like I said, obvious; that’s why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place, right?” ThatquotespeaksdirectlytothequestionI’llbe raisinginacoupleofdays-whatdoyouthink the media wants us to think makes a woman beautiful?


Thank you to all of you who responded to the question,“Whatmakesawomanbeautiful?”Here aretheresponsesIgot: Shapely, interesting, confident in her skin light in her eyes, humble, a certain sex appeal, sensual, healthy, natural, luminosity of skin, vibrant, fertile, connection with person and strength of character “You know, my answer would be a smile. To me, it’s the warmth of a smile that makes a woman beautiful. Do I notice hair, face, body? Absolutely I do! I sometimes even note body parts that are more pleasing to the eye than mine are, in my opinion. (Yes, I too grew up with those “Madison Avenue” stereotypes.) But it still is warmth, a smile, a look in the eyes that attracts me most and makes me decide someone is truly beautiful.” “To me, a woman is beautiful when she shows a smile that says ‘I’m happy being who I am and I am interested in who you are.’” “I think that Hugh Hefner, as just one symbolic figurehead of many, clearly damaged women AND men’s appreciation for real women’s bodies. This is very, very obvious, but I thought I’d pipe up with the politically-incorrect, culturally-stereotyped view of what makes a woman beautiful, that was TAUGHT to me and deeply inserted into my sexual conditioning, starting at around age 12 or earlier, by Hef, Madison Avenue, billboards, film and TV: what makes a woman beautiful is being under 10

Thank you so much to the people who responded.Itenrichestheconversationgreatlyto haveotherinputbesidesmyown! When I googled “beautiful women”, I found a bunch of images of women with bedroom eyes looking like they were coming on to the guys lookingforpornsites.Itriedto copythemtoincludehere,but theimageswereblockedfrom copying.Youcantryyourselfif you’reinterested. . I decided to try googling for other groups of beautifulwomensinceonly20-thingswerecomingupanyway.WhenIgoogled“beautifulasian women”or“beautifulIndianwomen”or“beautiful old women”, here are some of the images I found. I’ve also included a couple of my own photosinthese.

Maranto Mark Antonio Bradford, who performs under the mononym“Maranto”,isaJamaican-bornreggaeartist, songwriter,producerandall-roundmusician.Borninthe parishofManchesteronAugust28,1985,Maranto is thesonofHectorandMarionandpaststudentofthe GlenmuirHighSchool.Acertifiedmusictrainerandchoir director,Maranto listenedtogospel,R&Bandjazzmusic asachild,primarilyduetothediversemusicalpreferencesofhisparents. Atage15,Maranto’s tasteformusicevolvedindependentlyandsoonhewaswritingandproducinghisown songs.AtGlenmuirHighSchool,Maranto wasanenthusiasticmemberoftheGlenmuir“concert”and“festival”choirsandduringhishighschoolyearsgainedsome exposureashetraveledtoGermanyandAustriawith thegroup.Hetransitionedintohisownashepursueda DiplomainPopularMusicStudiesattheEdnaManley SchooloftheVisualandPerformingArts.Wherehemet andworkedwithsomeofJamaica’stopmusicians. In2004,heteamedupwithcollegemateswhowerea partofthe“C-Sharp” bandforwhichhewasleadvocalistandalsogottheopportunitytoworkwithreggae ‘bigwigs’TonyRebel,QueenIfricaandtherenownedIThrees. Thegroupwentontocreatetheirfirstalbum“What a Day” andembarkedonvariouspromotionaltoursinthe Caribbean,AfricaandEurope.Desperatetopursuean independentcareerinmusic,hepartedwiththebandin 2006.Onhisown,Maranto’s passionformusicgrew evenmore.Hecontinuedtoworkintheshadowsdoing backgroundvocalsforJamaicanArtiste,TessanneChin, OMI,Ikaya,AlaineandtheGumptionBand. His distinct sound is often mistaken for an audio processedauto-tune, butitisthis“sound”thatmakes Maranto unique.CurrentlysignedtotheOufah Media productioncompany,Maranto releasedhisnewestsingles“Last Breath” and“Road to Zion” inthesummer of2013,asapreludeforthereleaseofhisfirstindependentalbum. Discoveredbyartistsandrepertoire(A&R)geniusClifton ‘Specialist’Dillon,Maranto isbeinggroomedfortheinternational stage. He unveiled his new image in July 2013,asheopenedforreggaesuperstar,Alborosie, duringaneightweektourinEurope.Performingonfestivalssuchas:RototomSunsplash,Sumolsummerfest, Summer Jam to name a few. Maranto is pragmatic, thorough,strong-willedandveryspiritual.Formusical inspirationhelistenstoreggaelegendssuchasBob Marley, Beres Hammond and Damian “Junior Gong” Marley. With a raging passion and humbled spirit, Marantodedicateshis“lastbreathtothechantofreggae music.” Look, listen and observe the teachings of MARANTO…thenextreggaelegend.


place should you be of an ethnic minority or from a disadvantaged background. It’s your classic white-person landgrab motivated by a well-meaning but nonetheless blinkered “we’re all in this together” feeling among those near the top of the tree. Or nearer the top than the bottom, at least. And it effectively denies the legitimacy of the minority students’ grievances. Far be it from me to start talking about checking privileges, but this strikes me as part of the reason why Oxford can never truly be rehabilitated. Just as David Cameron’s late modernising side has been stamped down by the duffers, the “what about me” brigade, and the bigots who refuse to budge, so Oxford’s attempts to increase its racial profile will always be hijacked by those who claim it as their own struggle.

An Oxford student taking part in the I, too, am Oxford campaign. Photograph:

There is a rich cultural history of white people jumping on bandwagons and spoiling things – tobacco, R&B, Brixton – and now they’ve done it to Oxford’s diversity movement. Inspired by a similar effort at Harvard, a viral campaign called I, too, am Oxford surfaced in March highlighting the prejudices students from ethnic minority backgrounds experience at the university. It featured pictures of students holding up placards that read “No, I’m not on a scholarship from Africa” and “My voice is not the voice of all black people”; even one saying “I do not sell cocaine”. It was a little safe, perhaps, given that the problems of there being too few students from ethnic minority backgrounds in Oxford (and Cambridge, for that matter) appear to lie at an institutional level, rather than an individual one. But whatever effect it might have had on a wider subconscious, or on students more usually put off by its undeniably stunted social spectrum, was undermined when, three days later, a rival campaign appeared. This time it was called We are all Oxford, and it starred, essentially, all the people who might be your reason for not applying in the first

Two girls, both white, hold a “We are from state schools” sign in the riposte. By my reckoning that doesn’t make you a minority anywhere else but Oxbridge. Three more white girls celebrate funding for students from low-income households. Then there’s a Romanian man in there too. Another guy is psyched about the fact he can wear traditional Nigerian dress to formal dinners, which seems a little like the thin end of the wedge, given that he is probably only one of about three people doing that.


They’ve all missed the point entirely, even the black students professing never to have been treated differently there. Oxford, like so many grindingly ancient institutions, is overwhelmingly white. It’s overstocked with white people, rich people and male people, even if you’re able to have a positive experience or a very nice time there

during your day to day student existence. I went to a state school, and I went to Cambridge. I loved it. When I applied, the prospectus seemed to think diversity meant “people with lots of piercings”, so things are looking up since then. But these universities are bubbles, isolated from reality, in their own microcosm that reflects very little of the society beyond. Even political issues are skewed so that simply going to a state school seems on a par with being the first in your family to go to university, being from a low-income household or a deprived urban area. There is sincerity in all outreach efforts, of course, but there’s also a hefty dose of #middleclassproblems. A white guy with dreadlocks telling you it’s about your brain, not your background, doesn’t necessarily hit home in the right quarters.

Positive Roots Consultancy is a Family Welfare/Support organisation that seeks to empower individuals & communities to lead a healthy and violence free lifestyle both in the UK and abroad. The staff team at Positive Roots Consultancy Ltd comprises of criminologists, social workers, probation officers, parenting practitioners, youth workers, psychotherapists and life coaches. We are specialists in addressing issues relating to all forms of abuse including parent to teen violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation/ sexualised behaviour & child protection concerns. Our services also extend to working with offenders & those at risk of offending. Positive Roots provide these services to parents/carers, children/young people & all health, social & criminal justice professionals working with children & families.

One of the greatest barriers to opening up Oxford’s hallowed halls to all the students with the ability to work within them is perception. Students from lowincome households and ethnic minorities don’t feel like they are part of the club. So if starting a conversation on little whiteboards helps them see another side, then great. But it needs to feel genuine and specific rather than a load of other people rushing in and saying “Oh, me too!”.

07591 165870

• This article was amended on 17 March 2014. An earlier version inaccurately stated that “the crushing weight of racism in Oxford (and Cambridge, for that matter) happens at an institutional level” and that “Oxford, like so many grindingly ancient institutions, is racist.” This has been corrected.


Harriet Walker The Guardian, Sunday 16 March 2014 13

ages 12 to 15, as well as livestock from another


village in northeastern Nigeria.

Since April 15th, over 200 pupils from Chibok

What is Boko Haram?

Government Secondary Girls School in Nigeria

Boko Haram Nigerian Islamist militant group that

are still missing, kidnapped by Nigerian terror

has been operating in the country’s northeast

group Boko Haram. Their plight has sparked

since 2002. The name Boko Haram means, liter-

protests and global outrage, including a now viral

ally, “Western education is sinful” in the local

Twitter hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls. As the girls

Hausa language. In recent years, the group has

remain hidden by their captors, fears for their

waged a bloody campaign against schools in the

health and safety increase. Here’s what you need

country’s Muslim-majority northeast, in a bid to

to know to get up to speed.

propagate shariah as the only law of the land. It

What happened?

is rumored to have ties to al-Qaeda, as well as

On April 15, a convoy of trucks carrying Boko

other affiliated outfits in Africa, such as Somalia’s

Haram fighters arrived at the school in Chibok, a

al-Shabab. Through bombings and shooting

remote northeastern town in Nigeria. They

sprees on a host of civilian and government tar-

seized more than 200 girls from the school dor-

gets, Boko Haram has claimed hundreds of lives

mitory, burned its food supplies before racing off

since its insurgency began, centered on the city

with their captives into the bush. Allegedly 30

of Maiduguri, capital of Borno state. Months of

girls escaped, but more than 200 remain in Boko

emergency rule and a brutal Nigerian army

Haram custody. (The number of girls missing

counter-insurgency have failed to defeat the

range from between 223 girls and 276.) They are


believed to be between 16 and 18 years old.

Where are the militants keeping the school-

Around the same time, suspected Boko Haram


gunmen reportedly captured eight more girls,


Chibok, south of Maiduguri, is in the country’s remote northeast, far from Abuja and even further from Lagos. It’s believed Boko Haram is holding the girls captive somewhere in the forests of the region. According to an Associated Press report, two of the girls have died from snakebite. One of the girls who escaped told the New Yorker that the rest were not far from Chibok. Immediately after the mass abduction, parents and locals in Chibok attempted a rescue sortie into the forest to find their loved ones. But they were eventually dissuaded because of their lack of firepower and out of concern that confronting the militants would further endanger the schoolgirls. What is Boko Haram going to do to the girls? No one knows for sure, but many fear the worst. It’s been rumored the Christian girls in the group


were forced to convert to Islam. A video released this week appears to show Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, declaring that the girls will be sold as brides — in effect, made into sex slaves.

“God instructed me to sell them; they are his properties, and I will carry out his instructions,” says Shekau in the video. It’s unclear when the footage was shot. Has this happened before? Sadly, yes. Despite its particular ideological bent, Boko Haram is one of many fringe, guerrilla outfits around the world to kidnap women and coerce them in various ways. In 1996, the Lord’s Resistance Army, the militia-turned-messianiccult of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, captured 139 schoolgirls from their dormitories. The girls were beaten, abused and raped by their captors. It took the pursuit and entreaties of a nun to free the majority of them. But four of the girls died. Editors interview:

15 (for previous issues) email:

Blackbright june 2014  
Blackbright june 2014  

Blackbright News highlights the situation around the abducted Nigerian girls in Chibok, tribute to #BringBackOurGirls; Feature Artist Tamara...