April 14th, 2014 – it is nighttime at a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria. Boko Haram, Nigerian militant Islamist group, arrives in twenty vehicles with hundreds of armed members. They abduct 276 Christian girls and are not to be seen again.
Fast forward to Christmas Day of 2015. Boko Haram’s spokesman filmed a video that had not been seen until now. It captured fifteen of the girls, showing their faces; showing the public who these girls are. Many believe that the girls have been forcibly converted to Islam, and brainwashed by their captors. “Who wants to be a suicide bomber?” The girls cry and fight: “Me, me, me!”
For two years, there has only been silence. That silence was broken on April 13th, 2016, just two years since the abduction, when the video from 2015 surfaced on CNN. The video was sent to negotiators and viewed by Nigerian government officials as a “proof of life.” The government is currently negotiating with those who supplied the video in hopes of bringing home the girls. However, it is unclear how authentic the video truly is.
The man in the video questioned each girl: “What’s your name? Was that your name at school? Where were you taken from?” After each girl had stated the information, one girl, Naomi Zakaria offers a plea to viewers and Nigerian authorities to reunite them with their families. Zakaria states: “I am speaking on 25 December 2015, on behalf of the all the Chibok girls and we are all well.”
No one has shown friends or family of the girls the video, until CNN’s Stephanie Busari, Nima Elbagir and Sebastiaan Knoops met with some of the family members and schoolmates. One girl, who went home last – minute the night of the attack, could hear the capture taking place, and recognized many close friends and classmates from the video. Rifkatu Ayuba, Yana Galang and Mary Ishaya, mothers of three girls captured, traveled 77 miles to Maiduguri to talk to CNN about the video. After years of interviews and false information, relief overwhelmed Ayuba and Ishaya when they were able to identify their daughters. Unfortunately, as Galang scanned the video countless times, she was not able to find her daughter. Galang told CNN: “I didn’t see my daughter but I now have more hope that she is alive. You can see what is yours on the screen but you can’t get it.”
All over the world for the past two years, there has been a cry for help. Protests sparked in Nigeria and worldwide in hopes of raising awareness and finding the girls. The social media campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, and other similar hashtags have been used by hundreds of thousands of people. “Bring Back Our Girls” is one of many websites created to support the search for the girls. Run by students, mothers, and activists that share credible news of the situation, the page informs the community as to how they can help. On April 14th, campaigns asked all to take part in the “School Girl March” where students and faculty wear school uniforms or red and march in support of the fight. It has been two years, and little evidence of the girls and their wellbeing has been found. The hope is for many to take part in the campaigns and help to #BringBackOurGirls.
(Copyright 2016 Caroline Haywood)