Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Editorial: Bring back our courage

Last week we paid tribute to those slain in the Paris attack and our front-page editorial ( Assassins of Freedom) referred to a “rebellion of courage among ordinary citizens”.

We wrote about how citizens had gathered in Paris to make a stand, embracing the slogan “Je Suis Charlie”. This phrase soon echoed around the world in solidarity, including at the Mail & Guardian.

We wrote, too, how Australians – Muslims and Christians – had reached out to one another when a lone attacker laid siege to a café in Sydney.

We wrote that it was citizens on the streets, not governments and politicians, who showed that extremism could be defeated by the resilience of the human spirit.

We opined that, perhaps, these examples would give fresh hope to Kenyans and Nigerians and others around the world, who face these perils.

We did not know that even before we went to print Boko Haram had already killed hundreds of people and razed several villages. Nor did we know that what we would see in the aftermath, as the scale of the horror became clear, would be a blow for our hopes of a turning of the tide.

We saw Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan ignore the blood-letting in his own backyard, focusing instead on next month’s elections.

We saw other African leaders fail to condemn Boko Haram, even those quick to fly to Paris to join fellow world leaders in solidarity with the people of France.

We saw the hypocrisy of some of those leaders, marching for freedom of speech while suppressing it in their own countries.

We saw that African lives were less important than those of Europeans.

Yet what have we done as Africans in our villages, our towns and cities, for the world to see that – like those who packed the streets of Europe – we value our own? Where was our #BringBackOurGirls campaign equivalent, as the ghastly count of the dead continued?

Before we start the search for scapegoats, we Africans need to hold up the mirror to ourselves. And before we can find our courage, we must find, and we must voice, our outrage.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

The Democratic Alliance and illiberal liberalism’s glass ceiling

The DA appears to have abandoned its ambitions of 2016 and is set to lose further ground in the upcoming elections

Canna-business deal for Ingonyama Trust land

Foreign investment has been lined up for a joint venture with the Ingonyama Trust Board, which administers tribal land for the Zulu monarch

More top stories

The Democratic Alliance and illiberal liberalism’s glass ceiling

The DA appears to have abandoned its ambitions of 2016 and is set to lose further ground in the upcoming elections

ANC Durban election candidate shot dead while on door-to-door campaign

One other man was shot dead and two others were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds

Rule of law drops globally, including in South Africa

Security and corruption prevents the country from ranking higher on the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index for 2021

Slice of life: ‘I can read nine or 10 books...

David van der Westhuizen, a street bookseller based at the KwaZulu-Natal Society of the Arts Gallery in Durban, tells Paddy Harper how he survives unemployment

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…