Sunday, March 21, 2010

A glimpse of yesterday's news in Nigeria

One great thing about traveling to Nigeria, compared to other countries I spend time in, is that the local newspapers are in English. So one can see what the local people are thinking about and understand the nuances and details I might miss in another language.

I picked up two papers in Abuja on Saturday, March 20th. Here are some of the notable stories from each:

The Weekly Trust
• Why bombings have returned to the Niger Delta
• Pythons invade two communities
• Several Muslims are missing and feared killed in Jose
• Students protested in Jos because they wanted to be able to lynch a man they thought was carrying explosives into their institute. One student was killed when police broke it up. The man thought to be carrying explosives was only carrying cell phone bags
• 18 die in a traffic accident on the way to a man taking his second wife
• A disabled woman has been living in a cart for the past 10 years
• A former minister of defense explains why he yells at officials in the ministry
• Cerebro-spinal meningitis returns to the north of the country
• A celebration of the ideal mother
• Author profile and book reviews
• Hollywood tidbits
• An opinion piece from Atlanta about Jihad Jane
• A kid’s page with puzzle, birthday greetings and a cookie recipe that uses the U.S. measurement system

The Guardian
• The student shot at the university, as well as other violence in Jos, is front-page news. But there is no mention that the dead student was trying to lynch someone.
• “Gang of Achaba Riders Roast Cab Driver in Kano Metropolis.” When a cab driver damaged the back light on a motorcycle, a group of his friends ganged up on the driver, accused him of being a thief, beat him, then set him on fire on top of his car. Under the car, with a photo of the burned out car, a female doctor writes in how horrified she was to witness that crime and that she did nothing to help. “Innocent people are killed every day, people who wake up in the morning like a majority of us with nothing in mind but how to navigate through the rought terrain of existence, feed their families, send their children to school. Even innocent children are not spared in a land where life has become so cheap. Be it in ethnic clashes, religious clashes, in maternity wards, on the road, in our homes while we sleep evil continues to flourish because good men (and women) do nothing. It is time that we think of our roles in the society and what they can do and how best we can do it.”
• A young couple with premature triplets pleads for financial assistance. They cannot afford what it costs to have them in an incubator.
• A U.S. doctor used paper clips for root canals
• In a part of Indonesia, people snack on soil
• On the cover of the Life & Style section is the former head of Administration of the University of Lagos, dressed in an African print dress, round beads and earrings and a red turban. The headline is: Kofoworola: Cool, Calm and Cute…At 60”
• An article on How to be a Successful Wife and Career Woman emphasizes spending a lot of time to look good and recommends not wasting a lot of time on meals that probably won’t be appreciated
• A woman writes how she used a razor blade to make three marks on his “manhood” while he was sleeping, and since then, he’s been faithful to her
• Two short stories
• Articles on sunglasses, high heels and luxury hotels
• Lots of business, politics and sports

I must admit, reading the newspapers on my airplane ride home made me more anxious and nervous about Nigeria than I was when I was there. Newspapers in the U.S. have that effect as well – a reminder of all the terrible and grotesque that exists, without representing the proportional amount of goodness that takes place.

Nevertheless, I liked how thick the papers were – well over 40 pages – and the mixture of news, analysis, opinion, fashion and society, announcements and even short stories. The tendency for mob violence, especially the horrible recent slaughter of women and children with machetes, scares me. But, like elsewhere, I think the majority of the people are good. Those I came across were friendly, optimistic, hardworking, intelligent and kind.