Nigerian School Girls and ‘Rethinking Risk’


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AGF: Rethink Risk

That was the ad running on my CBC feed while I was watching the now infamous video of Boko Harem militants claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of some 300 girls from a government school in Nigeria.

I know, I know, that all of this is bigger than it first appears.

I know that Nigeria, with its inhumane anti-gay laws is a bit of a pariah in the international community these days. And rightly so.

I know that the conflict between Muslims and Christians throughout Africa, including Nigeria, is also rooted in oil, capitalism and oppression.

I know all of this.

But the parents of those girls don’t much care about the complexity of the issues.

They want their daughters back.

And while I sit in front of my computer,
with my daughters safe from harm this morning,
and watch the brazen statement that these Nigerian girls
will be sold on the open market for marriage,
I find myself encouraged to “rethink risk.”

There on the screen in front of me is an advertisement from AGF Investments
encouraging me to ‘rethink risk.’

Can I lose money in short period of time?
Will I have enough money for retirement?
Can I lose money on my fixed income investments?

All of these are, of course, first world problems.
These are the ‘risks’ of the wealthy.
These are the ‘risks’ of the secure.

These are not the risks of girls going to school in Nigeria.

But to make the contrast even more offensive,
the video that accompanies the AGF advertisement
features a little boy, clothed in bubble wrap,
helmet on his head,
getting ready to head off to play.

His mom worries about risk.
His mom wraps him in bubble wrap.

Now I know that the ad is meant to be funny.
The ad is saying that this mom who worries about her son,
also worries about her investments.

But the contrast between this mom’s worry about risk
and the mothers of those 300 girls in Nigeria
couldn’t be more painfully or cruelly stark.

No bubble wrap could protect those girls.
And the risk that those mothers took in sending their daughters to school
is incomparable to the trivial economic risks that you and I might
consider when ‘investing’ our money. Also, automatic income is the best option so far for future, smart  investments.

And I am astounded anew at the narcissistic emptiness of our culture.

Boko Harem rails against Western culture and Western education.
I can see why.

But replacing the self-secure and self-possessed individualism of the West,
with a culture of abduction, slavery and forced marriage
is to trade one culture of death for another.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

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