On April 15th, the rural community of Chibok, Nigeria, was robbed of its most precious assets. In broad daylight, more than 200 young girls were taken from their school by armed gunmen of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. It is suspected that these armed men put the girls on a bus unwillingly and drove in to the rural forests of eastern Nigeria. To date, conflicting reports abound regarding the number of girls who actually escaped, but reportedly, at least 200 girls remain in captivity, with the names of the kidnapped girls only recently being announced by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Consequently, In Nigeria and throughout the diaspora, protests in New York, London, Ireland, California, and Washington, D.C., have all called for more to be done by the international community, serving as a moral clarion call to find the girls and bring their kidnappers to justice.
These protests have engaged women and girls at unprecedented levels. Starting in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, protesters and families of the victims took to the streets to demand more action by the government.
At a rally in New York’s Union Square, I spoke with men and women from all parts of the world, with some bringing their children to speak out against the injustice of both the kidnappings and the slow reaction by media and the Nigerian government.
Most of the people who attended the rally first heard about the kidnappings from a friend through social media, not the news.
Others I spoke with, such as Kelechi Ogbodo of Kelechi’s Project and Henry Ukazu of the Nigerian Lawyers Association, said that this situation calls for “politics aside,” meaning political sentiments must not overshadow the necessary collective action needed to save the girls. Demi Ajayu, co-founder of WomenWerk, said her greatest concern and motivation for attending the rally was “the clear lack of consideration for the most vulnerable of the country — the poor females whose stories often go untold.”
The situation in Nigeria is complex and latent with deep-seeded contention in Nigeria’s religious, political, and government sectors. In addition to the outcry of Africans across the globe, the efforts of African and non-African allies, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai (pictured in the below photo gallery) and MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry, have also led to increased pressure on both the Nigerian government and the international community to do more to investigate the kidnappings.