Magazine article New African

Lest We Forget: Chibok Girls-One Year On

Magazine article New African

Lest We Forget: Chibok Girls-One Year On

Article excerpt

The brazen manner in which Boko Haram militants abducted Nigeria's Chibok girls shocked the world. A year on, the girls are still missing and despite the unrelenting campaign by the #BringBackOurGirls movement, it feels like everyone else has moved on.

There is a sense of dismay that 365 days after over 200 school girls were abducted from their boarding school in the town of Chibok, Borno State, North Eastern Nigeria, the world feels it has done all it can. But for the girls and their families, the nightmare is ongoing as they remain in captivity, while their loved ones are overwhelmed with uncertainty about the future.

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Whether or not the world has forgotten about the girls and moved on--after all Syria, Yemen and the terrorist activities of ISIS are still raging among other global crises that world leaders have to reckon with--is best explained in a recent edition of the "The Stream", the

Al Jazeera programme dedicated to the news channel's social media community. In an episode which aired on 13 April, titled--What happened to #BringBackOurGirls? the show's digital producer Malika Bilal presented an overview of the rise and decline of the once-viral hashtag. According to Bilal, the momentous social media clarion call for the girls' freedom gained popular traction and by May 2014, had over 4 million mentions. However, those numbers have dropped drastically to a mere 25,123 as of April 2015. Hashtags and social media activism are not responsible for the security of a nation. Government is. In the case of the Chibole girls, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan was glaringly missing in action in the early days after their abduction. The slow response and absence of action by the Nigerian government gave birth to the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement, which filled the vacuum and became the authoritative voice demanding the girls be rescued "now and alive", with its marches, daily sit-ins and social media activism.

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Oby Ezekwesili, recently named by Time Magazine as one of its TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World, is the leading voice speaking out in Nigeria and calling on world leaders alongside her co-conveners--Saudatu Madhi, Maryam Uwais and Hadiza Bala-Usman, for the girls' freedom. On 14 April, the one-year anniversary of the girls' kidnapping, Ezekwesili said: "We cannot, and we must not ignore the suffering of our [Chibok] girls and their parents. A single voice is all it takes to remind us of our values as human beings. Even if it is only one voice that is constantly reminding us that the [Chibok] girls are not back, that voice is enough."

In the last five years, the girls' kidnappers Boko Haram, which recently pledged allegiance to ISIS, has waged a bloody insurgency against the Nigerian government, with northeastern Nigeria bearing the brunt of that war. The group has claimed over 10,000 lives since 2009, razed numerous towns to the ground, leaving 1.5 million people displaced and according to a newly released report by UNICEF, 800,000 children have been left homeless because of the group's violent campaign. The group has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the beginning of 2014, according to Amnesty International. …

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