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In Honour Of #BringBackOurGirls By Sonala Olumhense

Once upon a time, a new country came to be.  It was called Internet.  It had many states and many peoples and many kinds.

On Internet, you could live in different states.  The state of Facebook, for instance. Or Email. Or Twitter.  You could even choose to be a citizen of any or all of them at the very same time. 

Once upon a time, a new country came to be.  It was called Internet.  It had many states and many peoples and many kinds.

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On Internet, you could live in different states.  The state of Facebook, for instance. Or Email. Or Twitter.  You could even choose to be a citizen of any or all of them at the very same time. 

You could be in the state of Happiness, or of Unhappiness. 

On Internet, you could do as you pleased.  You could hold many passports and cause one problem to many.  Or you could hold one passport, and cause many problems to one person.

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The country of Internet had an avalanche of opportunities and prospects, and everyone began to acquire real estate.  Some people kept their feet on the ground, some chose to travel upside down.  The country was free and exciting.

The young took their places alongside the older.  The sick took their places alongside the healthy.  The women shopped alongside the girls; the grandparents photoshopped with the best of the boys. 

That made for a lot of citizens who were happy and hopeful for the first time in their lives.  Happy for hope.  Hoping for happiness.

One evening, in one state, Wendell Simlin bellied up to the bar. 

“Sir, he said to Oga at the top, “Sir!”

“Yes, Wendell, what is it?” Oga asked, evidently in high spirits.

“May I speak freely sir?” It was very late, but there were still several others at the well-appointed bar.

“Yes, speak, Wendell? Are you alright?  You do not seem to be drinking anything.  This bar is not going to empty itself you know?”

Wendell smiled.  “Thank you sir.  I am just pacing myself.”

Oga thought about that.  “You are at home, you know,” he replied.  “Pace has no meaning when both road and car belong to the driver.  This is your home, your road, your car.  You don’t need to pace yourself.”

“Thank you, sir.  I just want to be sure I am always able to give you my best.  I am grateful for all you have done for me.”

“Don’t worry, we have not even started.  What did you want to say?”

“Thank you.  Sir, have you heard of the country of Internet?”

Oga belched into Wendell’s face as he lifted a cup of beverage.  “That I have,” he said.  “Internet.  You know that is why I brought you here.  I have been told it is at the edge of the cut.”

“Cutting edge, sir!”


“Cutting edge.  But it does not matter.  I just wanted to let you know that you are sitting on a gold mine!”

Oga jumped out of his seat.  “Gold mine?  Here?  Under this chair?   In this palace?”

Simlin laughed.  “No, not here sir. Internet.  An exciting land full of students, housewives, the unemployed, everybody.  We can really take advantage of it sir.  With one keystroke we can have all of them eating out of your hands!”

“Really?  How?”

And Wendell Wendell talked. Oga at the top listened, nodding.  He nodded off.

And so it was that Wendell, empowered, travelled widely in Internet to extend extending Oga’s reach and his message, using all kinds of messengers who carried different passports.  Oga followed in all the territories, establishing a major outpost in the state of Facebook.  There, he spoke every day.

He travelled to the state of Unhappiness and showed them his feet, clasped in glittering snakeskin designer shoes. 

“Remember I once walked barefoot,” he told voters in the city of Poverty, “because we were very poor.  Look at me now!”

In the villages and towns of Promise-and-Fail, he told them to fear no more because he had untold riches planned for them.  He would give them electricity and jobs.  He would build universities and airports and hospitals and roads and farms.  Their wives would never walk naked, and their children would never lack honey.

Wherever he spoke, the people applauded widely, and Oga would turn around and find Wendell with a knowing wink and a grin.  Some of the people were wary, however.  They told Oga they hated the company he represented, but that they would support for him personally. 

And so it was that Oga received the endorsement of all the states. The state of Facebook.  The state of Happiness.  The city of Expectation.  The towns and hamlets of Doubt.  The villages of Disappointment and Poverty.

“That caught out edge really worked!” Oga told Wendell.  “You were right!”

“Thank you, sir.  The country of Internet is a marvelous creation.  We don’t even have to rely on the press or the Ministry any more.  You don’t need the journalists.  With Internet, you can say whatever you want whenever you want it, and nobody can tell the difference!”

“Yes.  It is a canoe we will ride as long as we like and we can fish for as long as we want.  And it is your house, Wendell.  Eat what you like.  Drink what you like.  By the way, why are you alone again today?  Na only you waka come?  Have fun!”

And so it was that the exciting canoe ride began.  They traveled whenever and wherever they went.  Riches.  Power.  Life was wonderful.  The only thing that remained was to prepare for another round.

Incredibly, the country of Internet also expanded, but nobody seemed to notice.  Citizens of the states of Happiness and Disappointment, like those of Facebook and other places, began to raise their voices in anger.  There were riots and mutinies and fights.

“What about our rights?” they were asking.  “What about the promises made to us?  Why are we so unsafe?  Why are strangers killing our families and taking our livestock?  Why are there so many thieves and liars walking unchallenged?”

But nobody seemed to hear them.  There was just so much to do that nobody saw the roof as it unraveled, despite all the reports in Internet.

As so it was that, in the end, the country of Internet revealed itself as being everywhere and everything, of being without boundaries and being able to see into the bedrooms of Emperors and the hearts of Kings. 

For the first time, the country of Internet was revealed to be the heart of every man and woman everywhere, and Oga and his people could hear, through the tongues of strangers in lands known and unknown, his own people’s anguish for service and responsibility. 

In just two weeks, the horror of a government being unconcerned about using its vast resources to rescue and return hundreds of kidnapped children exposed Oga before the world as naked and weak and confused.

Wendell, unmasked as a manipulator and liar in the earlier days of the unraveling, had failed to tell Oga that country Internet gives, but may not forgive, and never forgets. 

And now, country Internet roars on beyond all boundaries and beyond Oga’s control, in the effort to find the abducted children, with the unmistakable message that unless they returned home safely, there will be hell to pay, by the few, to the many.

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