So as anyone with a TV or the Internet knows, a group of high school girls were abducted in Nigeria by a radical Islamic group and are being held ransom. If not, give this article a read over. Apart from spawning a number of protests and Internet campaigns to “save our girls” it’s also managed to gather an unlikely group to come to their aid. With the failure of the government to track down the girls and the unwillingness of the Nigerian military to go into the dense backwoods a group of local hunters and shamans have stepped up to do their part. Sounds straight out of a comic but the argument that they have more experience in the forest and know their way around it makes sense to me.
Nearly 500 hand picked hunters have gathered in Maiduguri for two weeks now awaiting word from the military to find the missing girls. As is fitting the hunters are protected by magic amulets and spells; in the video below you can see them showing off their magical protection by cutting themselves up and being OK with it. Although the talismans and amulets might protect them from bleeding, decapitation and getting gunned down (or probably not), will this help or further muck up the situation? There’s mixed feelings about this one and some people are saying the hunters might both escalate the situation and put others in needless harm. Are the hunters going into this situation with the same blind bravado as Rambo or do they have a point?
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Well like I just mentioned, it might not be the wisest of moves. The hunters could just end up pissing Boko Haram off and getting killed in the process, leading to inevitable retaliation towards a whole community and army that is terribly under prepared in comparison. The hunters know this; they already said they won’t go ahead unless they have approval from the government so they don’t look like brazen jack asses. But, the list of under prepared armies winning over other more well equipped groups who don’t know the terrain is endless. I’m sure the hunters are more aware of their surroundings, the limits of their abilities and have honed tracking skills that don’t come with basic Nigerian military training. However, how likely are they to succeed?
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Considering the government has been pretty slow to react and yet to produce an acceptable outcome for this situation, the odds that they’ll let a rag tag group of hunters even try is pretty much zero. Which is too bad, I for one would love to see this play out. I do think they might have a fighting chance considering most of these radicals are poorly trained, angry, bumbling morons. But they are supported by Al-Qaeda so will have access to a dizzying armoury. The hunters on the other hand are experts at concealing themselves and crossing the forest unnoticed, they know the basics of forest survival, animal tracking and trapping. Unfortunately to succeed they would have to sneak into the compound and sneak out with about 300 girls. That part is highly unlikely, but with the help of the military I’m sure they could locate the girls and secure positions for the army.
The US is already helping with drones and other neighboring African states are joining in on the search so they would have no trouble finding back up, but I feel like it’s a symbolic gesture. Not only would I love to see this happen because it would be bad ass to see African hunters taking down radicals on mopeds, but I also feel like this would be empowering to locals. For decades it’s been far too common to see African people stuck between uncompromising governments and radical blood thirsty factions demanding control.
Although the situation for the girls is dire, Africa has always had her own unique way of dealing with situations and I don’t think this should be any different. To incorporate local beliefs and culture into a body that is already meant to protect that culture just makes sense to me, and if there’s people willing to help all the better. Something like this could foster unity and generate the right kind of environment for a cohesive society that blends historic societal norms with modern realities. Unfortunately there’s no word yet on what the army plans on doing. These guys are playing it cool for now, but hopefully they don’t have to wait too long:
“If government is ready to support us, then we can bring back the girls. But if they are not, they should tell us so that we can disband and return to our homes and family.”
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