A soldier in the northeast challenged Nigerians to make this image go viral

Northeast Nigeria will rise again…or at least that is one way to caption this ‘selfie’ which is currently being shared on several social media platforms. Less than 24 hours ago, a young man posted an image of a Nigerian soldier surrounded by fellow officers and a community bubbling with life and energy. But, while some Nigerians used this as an opportunity to lash out, pointing fingers at the army for not ‘dealing’ with bigger problems, one has to admit that for what it’s worth, this is a small reminder of the hope that is left for the terror-ravaged region of the country.

Soldier selfie
#Thank_A_Soldier #SelfieOfTheYear #Peacefie. Credit: Sayo Aluko

Incessant attacks by Boko Haram militants have continued to fuel foreign media’s representation of Africa as a dangerous place, thereby providing a straight avenue for the uncritical representation of Africa as the ‘continent of darkness’ and northeast Nigeria as pretty much a black hole.

The media often obscures the living, who rarely ever have the opportunity to tell their own stories beyond the attacks, in terms of how Boko Haram has affected their lives or dampened whatever hope they have held on to. However, images like this help us to tell a different story; a perspective that focuses on the people who we so often forget to talk about; the survivors and many soldiers deployed to act as a ‘shield’ between different communities and Boko Haram, which has been the source of pain and agony for these people.

Agreed, we are still fighting a huge battle, but a victory is a victory and the Nigerian military deserves more respect. The fact that a soldier could get a group of people who have lost so much to smile for as little as a few seconds, is one thing to be thankful for. Perhaps, it has not dawned on many in insurgent-free regions of the country that the reason some of us can still walk the streets and go about our daily lives without the fear of terrorist attacks, is because there are courageous soldiers who have sworn to ensure our safety.

It is important to talk about these attacks in the north, indeed, but we need to do so without losing track of the main message, which is to remind everyone to be vigilant and provide accurate details and facts surrounding the events in focus. We need to shift the conversation from strictly fear mongering and negativity, and this captivating image is one good way to start.

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