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The recent attacks in Nigeria are a tragedy and my heart goes out to those affected by this horrible act. We must redouble our efforts with the Nigerian government, the African Union and the United Nations to ensure peace, stability, security and the protection of human rights. - Barbara Lee


undreds kidnapped. Thousands killed. Scores mired in fear. Devastating attacks by Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist organization, have increasingly claimed more lives in Nigeria, including the massacre last month that claimed an estimated 2,000 lives in Baga within the span of a week. The aftermath of the brazen, widespread attacks have left many Nigerian Americans and blacks wondering what has stifled global outrage -- and U.S. intervention. Simi Ogunleye, a first-generation NigerianAmerican, is quick to admit she lives in two worlds. At home, her Nigerian upbringing reigns, but outside she balances her American life. Ogunleye, a student in her senior year at University of California, Riverside (UCR), is also president of the campus’ Nigerian Student Association and says some of her fellow Nigerian-American peers have expressed similar sentiments. But regardless of the balancing act she juggles, Ogunleye has an unwavering loyalty to her heritage, and worries about the events that have not only harmed Nigeria, but its global image as well. For Ogunleye, terrorist attacks in Nigeria are troublesome because she believes there are numerous more unreported tragedies Nigerians are suffering and are not being discussed because the information is suppressed. She believes the attacks warrant more international


Congresswoman (D-CA)

attention, but doesn’t see it. “It should be enough because these are mass attacks. A lot of people are considering it a genocide. So, it definitely should be something that the rest of the world is interested in, but it’s hard to care when their very own country men aren’t caring,” she said. Through the UCR Nigerian Student Association, Ogunleye is drawing attention to Nigeria, rallying students to their cause and holding forums. Last year, following the widelypublicized abduction of nearly 300 girls in Chibok, the organization held a rally and a town hall discussion. On April 24-26, the association will hold the Nigerian Student Coalition Conference, where Ogunleye expects Nigeria’s state of affairs to be a topic. The global perception of Nigeria, once the esteemed standout as one of Africa’s brightest and most promising nations, has faded into an oblique picture where tragedy strikes -- and seemingly, no one outside the Nigeria cares enough to intervene. Ogunleye is aware that people who are not well-informed about the social and economic diversity of Nigeria may associate the country with negative connotations, however she averts her attention to focus on Nigeria more constructively. “There are a lot of negative sentiments going around concerning Nigeria right now. I hate that

VOICE | FEBRUARY 12, 2015 |

the country is being seen that way, but I can’t deny the fact that it is a reality. I think being upset with the way it is being talked about is counter productive, it’s not going to help the people who are are being killed everyday. So, it is something we need to be talking about. If people didn’t talk about Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, the black community here in America would be really upset to make America look like this great country when in fact we have our issues,” said Ogunleye. Slow U.S. Intervention Boko Haram’s ascension from a little-known, radical Islamist group to an infamous and elusive, terrorist organization was several years in the making. Boko Haram, which has been linked to al Qaeda affiliates, has been blamed responsible for escalating attacks including car and suicide bombings, mass abductions, and violent assaults, leaving Nigeria’s death toll in the thousands. Boko Haram was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. state department in 2013. In a Washington Times article that year, Congressman Edward R. Royce (RCA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Boko Haram was an example of how the threat of al Qaeda was spreading. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) was among more than 50 congressional leaders to

Profile for Brown Publishing Co

VOICE Issue February 12, 2015  

Inland Southern California's News Weekly

VOICE Issue February 12, 2015  

Inland Southern California's News Weekly