Aya de Leon

author – activist – faculty – mom

Happy Mother’s Day/Thinking about mothers in Nigeria

I’m truly blessed this year, but my heart today is with mothers in Nigeria who are praying for the return of their kidnapped daughters, or grieving the loss of their murdered sons, or comforting their traumatized daughters who have escaped from abduction. 

I’ve been working on a spoken word piece about diasporan responses to the abduction.  While it’s not finished, I thought I would post my introductory thoughts and the twitter exchange that inspired it.


Earlier this week, I was in twitter conversation with Britney Cooper and Kwame Holmes. Cooper and I were conflicted about US intervention but hoping something good could come of President Obama getting involved in the abduction of over 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria, 276 of whom were still missing at last count. Holmes, and others, were citing recent instances where concern about women and girls was used as a pretext for military invasion.

Before I could take a definitive position, I was waiting to hear from native African feminists on the subject. Friend and trusted colleague, Kenyan poet and playwright @ShailjaPatel had been quiet on twitter for a while.

But when she joined the debate, and sent me the above compareafrique.com post, I could clearly see that my perspective had been skewed by a lifetime of conditioning to see the US as a potential rescuer. This, in spite of my opposition to all the military intervention in my lifetime, Viet Nam, Guinea-Bissau, Chile, Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq…

We progressives in the US, particularly of African heritage, can be swayed by Obama’s public stances and record of improvement in various domestic social issues. However, progressive social policies at home do not correlate in any way with anti-colonial foreign policy.


Perhaps, all of us Afro diasporans in the US, hearing about the abduction and violence against African girls wanted something other than silence, than business as usual. We have nightmares of our own, from the recent outrage with RKelly’s “Black Panties” album, and the latest in-depth revelation of his one-man sexual violence crusade against black girls in US, we are desperate for someone in a position of influence to notice and intervene. We want someone powerful to #BringBackOurGirls. If only it were that simple.

2 comments on “Happy Mother’s Day/Thinking about mothers in Nigeria

  1. asakiyume
    May 11, 2014

    my perspective had been skewed by a lifetime of conditioning to see the US as a potential rescuer. This, in spite of my opposition to all the military intervention in my lifetime

    Yes: the conditioning is so intense. I’ve been struck by this too: how deep-grained it is even when with my rational mind I can be opposed.

    The story of Boko Haram & Nigeria & the girls is so very complicated. I’m grateful for the folks I’ve happened to follow on Twitter: many sides get brought up; I feel like I’m being exposed to nuances–which isn’t always (or often) the case w/news stories.

  2. couplesconsult
    May 12, 2014

    Reblogged this on couplesconsult.

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This entry was posted on May 11, 2014 by in Uncategorized.

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Aya wins first place Independent Publisher Awards for UPTOWN THIEF, THE BOSS, THE ACCIDENTAL MISTRESS

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