Abubakar Muhammad Shekau and the men of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (‘People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad’) represent a most despicable form of African manhood. We must not avoid the fact that these men who abduct African girls and threaten to sell them are African men.
Are these the kind of men who share our world? Yes, I am afraid they are. And so each time I read or watch a story about the deeds of the men of Boko Haram I find myself using the word evil. I am dumbstruck about the evil that some men do. I cannot lose the hope that most African men are good. Complicit with oppressive practices, but still ordinary good men who want the best for their families and the world around them. Not Mandelas, but sometimes still able to rise above their smallness and want a better world for their children.
This word, evil, is a word that is not popular with many for whom god is dead. But I cannot seem to help it. These are wicked men.
Perhaps the word evil presses itself on my tongue because, I think, they are waging their amoral war in the name of Allah and religion. And so, by associational thinking, I arrive at evil.
A while ago I bought Philip Zimbardo’s book The Psychology of Evil: The Lucifer Effect in Action. I could never muster enough enthusiasm to read it. I think will read it and find out what he has to say.
But are they really evil, or is it just a form of violent military masculinity gone totally off the rails? How different is it from men who go on a raping spree? Or male rulers who terrorise and kill their own subjects because the people want a different government?
Founded in 2002, Boko Haram, seem to have started out with the mission of promoting a version of Islam which makes it haram for Muslims to take part in any activity associated with Western society, including Western education as well as apparently wearing shirts and voting. Clearly, their terror campaign has moved way beyond an intra-Muslim religion-related politics. They are now killing, destroying, pillaging and maiming anyone who does not share their view. They are using terrorist tactics in their political campaign. They have moved out of society. When men have gone that far, murder, burning and looting become almost ends in themselves, and war takes on a sweet taste as it brings them notoriety.
We call on our government and other African governments to assist Nigeria to rescue the Nigerian girls from the evil men of Boko Haram.