MicroGenocides:from micro to Macro, should we look away


Should the violence being perpetrated by the radical islamicist Boko Haram in northern Nigeria be labelled genocide?  This is a much more complex question to answer than it might appear. The international world addresses human rights and social justice issues, through frameworks which are developed and constantly revised. The question is, when do we label killings as genocide, by what indices do we quantify the lives taken, lives destroyed, violations and atrocities as genocidal in order to justify its naming as such? Who decides this, who should act? How does the “micro” become “Macro” to gain international attention? Nations have been birthed through genocide ,for example, states have sponsored genocidesstructural and systemic genocides .When then, do the key descriptors of genocide begin to make meaning? The Boko haram insurgency in Nigeria did not start overnight. Nigeria has a long pre-dated history of “micro- genocides”. There have been several sectarian killings going on in the northern part of Nigeria for long before now. The last terrible ones were in the 1990s there were massive killings in various northern cities; Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Bauchi to mention a few.

This article is premised on the everyday news of mass killings and sectarian violence that occur in Nigeria with a specific focus on the “Boko Haram” insurgencies. These sort of bloody insurgencies have and are also occurring in different places across the world daily. I have chosen to qualify the term genocide by using the prefix “micro” and “Macro” to help underscore the differences, its spatial and linguistic context and draw attention to how these prefixes change in the space of time, historically and in the political contexts in which they occur. The aim of this blog is to open up discussions to a critical examination of the term “Genocide” and what its use propagates or serves. The title Micro-genocides: from micro to Macro, calls to question the use of words in defining human impact activities and actions ,what it means locally and internationally and how these terminologies elude the very cause for which they were created and institutionalized, or perhaps obscure the gravity of  human actions. In this blog, I argue that often times “Macro-genocide = genocide” as defined in today’s contemporary world  are as a result of “micro genocides”  such as any killings premeditated by hate & detesting; racial, ethnic, clan or religious inclinations leading to the mass killings of specific populations ; often defined as “massacre” (massacre- micro genocide) in order to differentiate it from “genocides= Macro genocide” and that these “micro genocides  that occur every day can also be, in-fact macro genocides= genocides in themselves and are as such worthy of attention, locally and internationally.

It is also worth noting that at local or international levels historically, that the bodies on which these genocides occur have been the basis for defining “what is or is not a genocide” in today’s contemporarily. Thus, this goes to say that the current definition of genocide is politically inscribed on bodies, dependent on identity, class, race, locality, visibility and is based on the magnitude of the numbers or degree of atrocity or violence as perceived by the international world. The question of if these standards are just, in themselves or justified is persistently raised now, as has in past contentions. This therefore calls for the need to provide a critical appraisal of the word in view of recent world events and natures of conflicts and human losses.

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