Friday, July 13, 2007

KIDNAPPING KIDS

Little Samuel Amadi, Kidnapped
Yet another kid has been kidnapped in PH. Little Samuel Amadi was kidnapped on his way to school. This is the fourth case. Information is still trickling in since this happened Wednesday. It is suspected that this is an inside job. Read more on this HERE. I am not sure I want to go to PH again. I am beginning to get sick of the place especialy when it's difficult to file video stories in on time because of technical issues. Anyways below is an entry I wrote on my way back from PH on Tuesday night. Some of it is reflectionary. What's your opinion on the whole Margaret Hill story and all this kidnapping children.
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I am sitting at the wack VIP section of the Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri. It cost me N1000 just because I need to be in an air-conditioned location. I had to sit in a hot car on a two hour drive from Port Harcourt. Anyways I had to go down to chase the Margaret Hill story. She’s the ‘British’ girl who was kidnapped from her car ‘by Niger delta militants’ on her way to school. Already you can tell I have a problem with that sentence. Although the foreign media and government outrage is credited with the pressure that brought about her release, they al conveniently left out the fact that the kid is ALSO NIGERIAN. Her mother is Nigerian and Igbo and hence Margaret is also a Nigerian and Igbo girl as she is British. Secondly, every incident is quickly attributed to ‘Niger Delta Militants’ in their ‘masks and gun boats’. Da hell!! The guys who kidnapped this girl are common rogues, mere criminals who can’t even spell ‘militants’ let alone be one or even have the sophistication to understand what Niger Delta Militancy is all about.
Thirdly no innocent child or person deserves to ever be used as a pawn in a game played by adults and moreover a game that’s bigger than the person. But I must ask why there wasn’t any similar outrage by both local and foreign media and government when 3 year old St. Michael Stewart was kidnapped just about a month ago and keep from his parents for about the same length of time. Oh but of course, he has the unfortunate luck of being a regular black nappy haired Nigerian kid with no foreign affiliation whatsoever. The speculation that his kidnapping might have been politically motivated, as his mother was recently elected into the house of assembly, could have made it a ‘no-go-area-they’ll-sort-themselves-out’ type reaction from all. Even the staff of the state’s press secretary’s office could not say the kid’s name correctly or have a picture of him readily available, but had that of Margaret. What does that say to you guys? I thought this sort of thing happened only in America and the UK where there’s a disparity in reporting missing minorities. I didn’t know it was all over the place as well. You can’t even blame this one on colonialism. Or did Mrs. Oluchi Hill as unsophisticated as she is just have a better sense of public and media relations than the Stewarts. Hustling really hard and getting every necessary attention and making sure the whole world became as concerned as she was about her daughter. Or that the St. Michael was kidnapped during the honeymoon of a new government. It could really be either one of those and nothing more.

Meanwhile, I had the privilege to visit the Hills and see for myself how Margaret was doing. Perhaps get a good story. At this point I must admit how much of a scum I felt. Here I am hoping to take advantage of a little girl who is visible traumatized form a harrowing ordeal. But I was only doing my job, which I had and have to do. It’s one of the things about journalism that I hate to deal with. Getting that great story for the resume tape. Yeah yeah, we all want the world to see the other side, the moving stories of the small folks, and the human side of the ash and crash news paper blotters of this world. Those are all noble, but the dark, honest and realistic side is that we mostly all do it for ourselves. In the first 5 to 10 minutes of my meeting Margaret, I went all goo-goo and gaga with my baby talk, hoping, just hoping she would also talk back and give me that GREAT sound bite. I gave up because it was silly. This child has just spent 4 days in the jungle with some creepy human beings and here I was hoping to get a smile or a cute phrase from her. I just had to admit to myself there and then that I may not and cannot be proud of what I do all the time, but it has to be done. I realized that I am just like the casket builders whose wealth depends on people’s deaths. They tell you they don’t wish or pray for people to die but when they do, they are always there to ensure the dead make the transition to the spirit world in comfort and luxury. It’s the same with the mortuary owners. If you’ve ever traveled eastwards from Lagos you may have noticed that there are several road signs leading to mortuaries along the roadside. Along the Port Harcourt Owerri Road towards Isiopko there’s a mortuary at nearly every 5 blocks. Also along the Aba Road between Owerri and PHC. That’s evidence that there’s business to be made form people’s sorrow and misfortune. I’ve always been aware of it but it really dawned on me today. Especially when Margaret’s class teacher was like, ‘you people are never tired, you just want more and never stop,’ Thanks for telling me what I already know. But it did offend me that she would say something like that considering the fact that if the media were not vultures and proactive in this case, perhaps Margaret would still be in captivity. I guess it’s just another case of DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T. I would gladly jump at another profession that’s HOLY if I can find one. Unfortunately for me, I’m not smart enough to be a doctor (even they kill people sometimes and commit abortions), not butch or tall enough to have perfected my dream of being a basket-baller, can’t be a bollywood star because I can’t speak Hindi and I’m definitely to old to be a model.
Oh well, it’s too late to cry over spilt milk. Way too much money and time has gone into this profession for me to start second guessing myself. I just have to suck it up, dust my shoulders off and move on to the next story. So Vulture with a mic, Camera and panging conscience I must be, scavenging on people’s misfortune and hoping to help others along the way. While all that helps, it’s really never always about the resume tape.
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9 comments:

pamelastitch said...

HEY GIRL,

SO SAD!! NO WORRIES!! DON'T LET THE PROFESSION GET YOU DOWN. JUST FOCUS ON WHY YOU WENT INTO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

ABOUT THE KIDS: I THINK IT IS ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE THAT CHILDREN ARE BEING USED AS A POLITICAL PAWN.

PERSONALLY, I BELIEVE THAT IT HAS STOPPED BEING ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THE NAIJA DELTA BUT RATHER ABOUT THE MONEY THAT THEY RECEIVE WHEN THEY RETURN THESE KIDS.

2) IF IT IS REALLY ABOUT THESE CHILDREN AS THEY CLAIM: THEN WHY O WHY AREN'T THEY USING THE MONEY THAT THEY HAVE RECEIVED TO HELP THEIR COMMUNITY - SHOULD BE MORE THAN 100,000 DOLLARS NOW. DO THE CONVERSION - AT LEAST DO SOMETHING SMALL TO JUSTIFY THE CAUSE....

3) THE WESTERN MEDIA WILL DEFINITELY NOT PLAY UP THE FACT THAT CHILD IS ALSO NIGERIAN - MAKA WHY? THEY WANT TO MAKE IT A POLITICAL INCIDENT!!

EXCUSE THE CAPLETTERS...SORRY

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pamelastitch said...

I KNOW THIS WILL SOUND HORRIBLE RIGHT NOW:
BUT THAT BABY IS SO CUTE. I LOVE WHEN CHILDREN WEAR THEIR TRADITIONAL OUTFITS...

PAMMY

disgodkidd said...

i like the way this entry spells honesty. it is so true what you said. but sometimes we can't help what we do. i have been watching "the practise' dvd recently and i see how they struggle between being the best at what they do, and doing the right thing. sometimes, being a hero is a tough job; but hey somebody's gotta do it. thanks for having the courage.

as for the kidnappings, maybe all we can do is go down on our knees. sometimes thats the best thing we can do.

Miss Opeke said...

Whatz Nigeria turnin' to??? Do we want our country to be tagged 'Terrorist' nation??? God cum and save us and protect these kids dat are been kidnapped...Amen

mystoriesmytestimonies said...

so sad about the kidnappings...
i hope they find samuel amadi...
God help naija....

uknaija said...

Great post! Good to see you back blogging

bhookey84 said...

really sad o this kidnappings, God help us , funny i took this public opinion class this summer and i had this question on my final about how journalists shape public opinion...now whos going around using the word"militants" making it seem like some type terrorist steez...i feel u , keep doing what u do ...no matter how hard but as a journalist, u shape the mind of the public so be sure to convey the truth!

Anonymous said...

this is off topic
but ada you have been slipping real bad on ya gist on wedding sites this '07

Anyway i found a beautiful one i thought you might like so here

http://www.chiomaandakolisa.com/

akos

truth said...

This is a well-written post and I totally understand how insensitive the job gets atimes. Take care and catch this big hug from blogville.

I'm happy nappy-haired St Michael was found too. Nothing in the world makes the Hills' case more important.