Wednesday, 22 May 2013
The Cowards Of Filin Kashu – Killing Women In The Name Of God By Malcolm Fabiyi
There will be no ornate tombstones to commemorate their gravesites, no epitaphs to capture the service they rendered. But the nine health workers – all women – who were gunned down by the cowards of Filin Kashu and Hayen Hotoro in Kano deserve to be remembered for their service, and courage.
By the turn of the 21st century, the world had declared victory over Polio. Decades of health outreach and comprehensive vaccination campaigns had helped turn the tide. That was until 2003, when some clerics in Kano turned their anti-western musings into a frontal assault on vaccination programs.
Under the withering assault of ignoramuses wrapping their prejudice with the garb of piety, vaccination programs in Northern Nigeria unraveled, and a defeated scourge returned.
Polio is mostly spread through contact with stool from an infected person. In a nation where sewer systems are non-existent, where sewage spills onto roads and backs up into homes, where feces laden open drainage systems run alongside market stalls, where the public health system is in shambles – vaccinations are the only bulwark against the spread of a disease that has no cure.
After the set-backs of 2003, Polio returned with a vengeance, and today, Northern Nigeria is considered to be one of the most entrenched global reservoirs for wild polio virus. Nigeria is one of only three countries in the world, where Polio is deemed to be endemic. The other members of that list of infamy are Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Although an array of global organizations have poured resources into the effort to stem the tide of Polio in the North, the real heroes of that effort have been the women of Northern Nigeria. These mothers, sisters and daughters have set about righting the wrongs that ill-informed men had brought about.
They are the foot soldiers in a war for the lives of their children. And they were making progress too, before the recent attacks.
Last Friday, the cowards of Filin Kashu and Hayen Hotoro murdered nine women, who were all health workers on an immunization exercise. The cowards also made history with their gruesome attack – and they join the Taliban in Pakistan in the perpetration of cowardly attacks on defenseless health workers.
The sounds of gunfire are long gone, but the echoes and the impact will reverberate for some time yet. The unarmed foot soldiers – the women of Northern Nigeria - that drive the frontline fight against Polio might be driven off the streets. Health clinics are likely to remain shuttered, and diseases like Polio and smallpox might once again run rampant. The Nigerian government must move swiftly to ensure that the culprits are found – just as they have done in finding those who made an attempt on the life of Kano’s Emir. These women are as deserving of timely justice. And the clerics of Northern Nigeria must speak up against this assault on their women, and the future of their children. Sheikh Gumi ‘s condemnation of the killings is an excellent first step.
Now others, especially in Kano, and Borno must speak out.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters