On 14 April 2014, 279 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria by radical group Boko Haram. Of the victims, only a few managed to escape, having been taken to a forest in trucks. The unprecedented crime sparked global outrage as activists rallied to save the girls and lobby the international community under the umbrella campaign #BringBackOurGirls.
The campaign, which saw the US and China promise to help bring back the girls, has lost its verve as the initial activism is nowhere to be seen; much like the girls, of whom none have been found. You may remember the US’ first lady Michelle Obama holding up a placard that read #BringBackOurGirls. Subsequently her husband Barak Obama has since received criticism for “not doing enough” to help release the girls, Nobel Peace laureate, Malala Yousafzai said.
Activists around the world are marking the one year anniversary of the abduction. A procession will be held in the capital, Abuja, today with 219 girls taking part to represent each missing girl.
“None of these people [Nigerian leaders and international community] care”, a commentator argued. In light of the US’ apprehensive stance on Boko Haram – not to send ground troops to rescue the girls – experts say that the US cannot afford to be involved in a civil war in Nigeria. Hence the hashtag campaigns, vigils, rallies and walks offer nothing more than moral support, solidarity and selective outrage for the girls.
The media, as the “I Am Baga Too” Manchester rally revealed, has not done enough to lobby the Nigerian government officials and activists to put an end to Boko Haram’s atrocious actions. However, it has been argued that the media’s role is virtually ineffective, given that articles written every week in order to keep the girls in the public’s consciousness will eventually feel redundant to the average reader.
In a letter to the teenagers on the eve of the first anniversary of their abduction, Malala said, “I am among many people pressuring them to make sure you are freed,” before calling the girls “my brave sisters”.
Boko Haram say the girls have converted to Islam and been married off. It has been a whole year of agony for the relatives of the missing girls. There have been a few sightings of some of the abducted students but very little official information from a government that has long promised to rescue them from the clutches of Boko Haram.
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri