On April 14, 2014, over one year ago, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria by terrorists from the Boko Haram organization. At the time of this blog, 57 have escaped. 219 are still missing.
This story grabbed international attention, but it also grabbed mine in a personal way. You see, I’m a dad of two beautiful daughters. Each has dealt with difficulties in the past couple of years that have made my wife and me very protective of their safety. I can’t imagine what the parents of these young girls in Nigeria have gone through in the wake of the disappearance of their girls. I am nervous just watching my youngest walk to the neighbor’s house to play with their children. I could not imagine sending either one of my girls off to school only to have them taken along with their classmates.
Recent news reports tell us that the 276 girls that we are so familiar with may only be the tip of the iceberg. We are just beginning to hear the horror stories of the 275 kidnapped women and children that were released on May 3rd of this year. These captives were not part of the school in Chibok. Their fate still remains unknown. Stories of women being stoned by their captors and other atrocities will, unfortunately, continue to emerge.
Despite the rallying cries of “Bring Back Our Girls”, the Nigerian government seems to have done little against these ruthless terrorists from Boko Haram. The United States, despite the vocal support of our citizens, has not supplied any type of military aid against these terrorists.
I’m not trying to encourage debate on the handling of this situation by either government. I am certainly not an expert in this field. What I’m trying to do, however, is point out how fortunate we are in our country that these types of abductions are far less common than they are in other nations. They are far less common, but not absent.
All we have to do is look through news headlines in this country. How can we forget the two women in Cleveland that were finally freed after years of captivity, rape, and torture by Ariel Castro? Who can forget Elizabeth Smart, taken from her room as she slept, and then returned after untold abuse by her captors? I look at these events on our own soil and it makes me wonder what differentiates these girls from my own. Is it location, circumstance, the luck of the draw? It’s difficult to say, but every time something like this occurs, it causes me to increase my vigilance.
As I look at my three novels in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series, I have my main character, a Private Detective, seeking justice for female victims. This is a duty for him that was born out of the brutal events that occurred to him in his own life. These stories emerged from me without thought about the motivation behind them. Now, however, as I look at them in retrospect, I see that many of the traits of Frank Rozzani come from my desire to protect my wife and daughters.
I’m certainly not comparing the struggles in my fictional detective series to the very real tragedy in Nigeria or in the domestic cases I mentioned. I’m definitely not comparing myself to Frank Rozzani, a fictional character with street smarts and tough-guy conviction. In fact, I could theorize that he is an alter ego that I aspire to be, someone who protects his loved ones at all cost. Even with his abilities, however, he still can’t protect them from everything, just as I can’t protect my girls from everything and the parents of the victims in Nigeria and those in the United States cannot.
I’m sure there are those of you that are reading this thinking that I am being sexist because I view women as individuals that need protection from big, strong men. I want to assure you that this is not the case. In fact, I believe that women deserve equal respect in the workplace and at home. As someone who has spent time as a stay-at-home dad, I have the utmost respect for what women accomplish. My books also feature strong female characters like Anita Velasquez, an excellent police officer and leader, and Nancy Rafferty, the woman that helps Frank through his troubles. These characters are composites of strong women that I have known. They are role models that I would want my daughters to aspire to.
I know that my books are works of fiction. They are (hopefully) enjoyable mysteries that are not overly reliant on violence to tell a tale. For me, they are a way to express my creativity as well as my values as a person. If you read them and enjoy them, drop me a line and let me know. If you read them and think they are not your style, that’s fine too. I won’t lie and tell you that I am so noble that I write these books out of creativity alone. I also can’t lie and say that money is the only motivation. The writing began as therapy for me as I travel about 45 weeks per year for my ‘day job’. As I started to let others read it, I enjoyed the feedback. The feedback is addicting to me as a writer and I enjoy every bit of it. I may never be wealthy due to my writing, but each new reader is worth a great deal to me and I am feverishly using every spare minute to produce more for you to read.
Before I get too far off of my original subject for this post, I guess I want to say that we should all take heroic measures in protecting our children from harm. They may not appreciate it at the time, but over the long-term, you just may become their hero, in real life, not from a novel.
You can contact me through my web site at http://www.donmassenzio.com