I’ve been following (somewhat obsessively) news about the 276 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. From the time I learnt of it, my mind has been alternately ablaze with outrage and hope for the girls recovery. Although this story has aroused a frenzy of international attention, there have been so many other deaths and lives changed forever by the atrocities committed by this group. At a certain point however, in our world of sordid war making, we’ve become numb to the statistics. One reads 276 kidnapped school girls, but what does that even mean? One reads 300 villagers killed, but what would that feel like? Although the numbers are merely a means of conveying quantity, I can’t help but feel that one human being is much more significant than the number 1 conveys.
On thinking about this, I’ve started putting together my current painting. What does 276 young school girls captured by islamic militants with a penchant for rape and brutality look like? Each girl would look different. Each girl would have a whole unique life and anatomy as well as a whole string of relationships with the people around her. The girls kidnapped were between 16 and 18. These would be girls with hope for their futures, standing on the brink of adulthood.
I imagine myself with my high school classmates at that age. What would we have done if approximately one quarter of our school had disappeared? How would I and my friends have reacted at being corralled by these monsters? Naparima Girls’ High School’s entire raison d’être is to educate young women to be the brightest in the country. My classmates and I were all so lucky to be born in the Caribbean and not in place that is hateful toward women and education. Although it comes with it’s own baggage, being a West Indian woman is a great and powerful thing. I’m not thankful enough for that fact.
So that’s where I am. The canvas is ready and I’ve started working through some sketches. I’ll post some pictures as the painting progresses. This one may take a while.
Thanks for tuning in.