500 hundred days and counting, has #BringBackOurGirls lost its sting?

Prior to the 14th and 15th of April 2014, ‘Chibok’ was an obscure town in the North-eastern part of Nigeria, but terror magnified this town, placing it on a global map. Yesterday marked 500 Days since 276 girls were abducted by the terrorist sect Boko Haram from Chibok; Nigerians marked it, the world reported it.

The mass abduction which put the brutality of the terrorist sect on a global stage, prompted an international social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. Early on, the campaign garnered the support of several prominent individuals like Michelle Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, and Angelina Jolie. But 500 days later, #BringBackOurGirls may have lost its widespread sting with less people advocating for the rescue of the girls.

Nigerian social media personality, Japheth Omojuwa believes #BBOG still has meaning even though people are less vocal about it today than they were before. “It takes a lot of extraordinary commitment to stay on the same issue for about 500 days. The fact that some people stopped using the hashtag doesn’t mean they care less. The hashtag is basically a reminder that the girls are still missing.”

Yesterday, campaigners marched through the streets of Abuja and Lagos Nigeria in commemoration of 500 days without the girls. So far, 57 girls have escaped, but none rescued, leaving 219 missing, and 17 parents of the abducted, dead.

Credit - Enough is Enough Nigeria
Credit – Enough is Enough Nigeria

Counting days are disheartening as each day comes with a lesser ray of hope. Whether we admit it or not, each day takes the girls farther away from us. I know, like it is said of Abraham in the bible, Nigerians are hoping against hope for the rescue of the girls, but the fact is that these girls are not sitting and waiting in Sambisa for the military rescue team.

And while Nigerians march in solidarity for the rescue of the missing girls, are post-rescue structures in place for when the girls are brought home, or is that implausible? Nigeria needs to realize that if ever they are found, they do not return the same innocent girls captured over a year ago. 500 days and counting; Rifkatu Galang has grown into a woman, Hauwa Abdu forced into motherhood, Tabitha Thomas might have been killed, and Amina Ali sold into sex slavery. In response to this, Omojuwa says, “I’m aware that the BBOG group has a post-rescue agenda – psychological management, education, and reformation – for when the girls are rescued.”

Also, as we campaign for the rescue of the girls, who campaigns for the girls blowing themselves to pieces right before us every day? From January till now, over 30 Nigerian girls, age 14 and below have taken their lives, and the lives of hundreds by suicide bombing. “Indeed, the list of things that we – the Nigerian people – have not done about the human toll of the carnage in parts of our country could go on,” writes lawyer and activist, Ayo Obe. In Kaduna, there’s a soaring rate of child abuse with 80 percent of reported cases being rape involving minors. What is being done to protect our girls at home?

Like Omojuwa told Ventures Africa, there should be a collective development agenda. “It remains the responsibility of the government to create a conducive environment for the girl-child, and indeed everyone to get sound and effective education. The government also needs to pay special attention to states in the north-east who incidentally have a terrible record in terms of the admission of girls in school.” All hands need be on deck for the welfare of the Nigerian girl-child; the government alone cannot do all things.


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