The Rest of Them
Sisters, I can’t say I feel your pain.
I’m praying for you, and I hope these cries out to God grow wings, take flight, and lay butterfly kisses on each and every one of your cheeks,
Wherever you may be.
I wrote this piece in May of 2014, almost one month after the terrorist organization Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, a town in Borno State, Nigeria.
On 13 October 2016, twenty-one of these girls were released.
You may be familiar with the mass kidnapping because of the #BringBackOurGirls movement that it inspired. People from across the world took to social media in a demonstration of solidarity with the missing girls and their families; they willed Boko Haram to have a change of heart, they pressured the Nigerian government to take more decisive and fruitful steps in order to get the girls home. And now, with twenty-one of the girls being free, all of whom in good health (considering the circumstances), one of whom having born a child while in captivity, people rejoice. As they should.
But what about the rest of them?
What about the girls whose whereabouts, physical and mental health and stability remain unknown?
What about the Chibok suicide bombings, orchestrated by Boko Haram, that killed eighteen people in January? What about the eighty-six people who Boko Haram extremists burned alive in the village of Dalori less than two days later?
What about the fact that Boko Haram has been active for over a decade, has killed more people than ISIS, has expanded its reign of terror to Niger, Chad, and Cameroon?
What about the rest of them?
The Nigerian government has made it clear that the battle against Boko Haram is not over. They will continue negotiations with the group until all of the girls are free. With help from the U.S., France, and Britain, they (hopefully) will continue to combat these acts of terrorism.
I was avoiding ending this piece with a cliché comment about hope. The realist (pessimist?) in me has doubts about the capacity of the Nigerian government to make more meaningful strides against Boko Haram… but the Nigerian in me, the Christian in me, the activist in me is hopeful. In times like this, hope is all that we have.