"There are some who believe that the writer has no role in politics or the social upheavals of his or her day. Some of my friends say, 'No, it is too rough there. A writer has no business being where it is so rough. The writer should be on the sidelines with his notepad and pen, where he can observe with objectivity.' I believe that the African writer who steps aside can only write footnotes or a glossary when the event is over”-Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country-Page 5
"Do not fail to silence the violence because silence is violence"An African Ambassador stationed in the West.
I wrote the first paragraph of this piece over the weekend that heralded the 500th day of the Chibok Girls abduction. While a lot of Nigerians were probably getting set to attend weddings, some were relaxing at home watching the football match between Manchester United and Newcastle. I reasoned that the following day (Sunday); people would attend their various Christian denominations and on Monday, the hustle and bustle would continue. We can do all this because we are not restricted by strangers and we are not hindered. But I wonder if we have given a thought to the Chibok Girls? What about their parents? In the month of July, I watched either a CNN or BBC report on the Chibok Girls’ abduction and my heart was blown to smithereens when a couple spoke. Their daughter was amongst the Chibok Girls and the Pastor and his wife had heard about what had happened to their daughter. Their tale would make the viewer sombre.
It is still mindboggling that 276 girls would be abducted and the previous administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was somewhat lackadaisical and seemed unperturbed in the early days and weeks of the abduction. Who would forget how some government officials politicised and labelled the organisers of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign? Who would forget the denials by security personnel of the harassment of members of the #BringBackOurGirls and tweets of Dr Oby Ezekwesili on Tuesday the 15th of July 2014 about the harassment at the National Assembly? Who would forget the deliberate attempt by some overzealous government officials to delay Mrs Oby Ezekwesili from boarding a British Airways flight to the United Kingdom to be a guest on BBC Hardtalk with Stephen Sarckur to discuss the abduction; 100 days after the event?
In my piece on the 100th day of the abduction I stated that “the fiasco that transpired on Monday the 21st of July 2014, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja while Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili was about to board a British Airways flight to London; really depicts the kind of “Frank Spencers” with officialdom.” Thanks to technology and social media Mrs Oby Ezekwesili’s tweeted as the shenanigans occurred and people were aware of happenings.
Among the misfires of the previous administration with regards the Chibok Girls abduction; this one would remain evergreen, embedded in my memory. That the Chibok Girls abduction and the resultant campaign garnered global currency and subsequently galvanised global attention could not and can not be watered-down.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr Ban Ki-Moon was in Nigeria on Saturday, the 22nd of August 2015; for a 2day visit and during a joint press conference, he addressed with President Buhari at the President Villa; according to The Guardian Newspaper; he described the abduction of the school girls as intolerable. And he reiterated the commitment of the world body to work with Nigeria to ensure that all the kidnapped girls and elsewhere are released unconditionally. One just hopes that Mr Ban Ki-Moon’s meeting with the Buhari-led administration; would in some way expedite deliberations and intended action plans with regards the release of the Chibok Girls.
Be that as it may, I am left bewildered when I get to read comments by some not-so-well-informed Nigerians who question the circumstances and actual abduction of the Chibok Girls. I wrote a piece on the 365th day of the Chibok Girls abduction which was also published via The Guardian; in which I stated that I met a certain Peter (a 19-year old married man with a 2-month old boy), whose sister and 2 cousins were among the Chibok Girls. I called Peter on Monday, the 24th of August 2015 and he was glad to hear from me. According to him, he misplaced his phone and didnt have my number. I asked about his wife and his son with a biblical name. Peter told me his son was now crawling. I was to meet Peter yesterday (Wednesday, 26th of August), on the 499th day of the abduction of the Chibok Girls but I couldn’t. So I called at 11.35pm to apologise and get his view on the today (500th day and the girls weren’t rescued). You see, Peter is one young man that has so much to say but just would not talk. And he did no talk. There was a disconnection and when I tried to call, my call was transferred to his voicemail. My fear is that the families of those who are personally affected might have lost the will and moved on. Silence on our past is condoning the barbaric act. And I ask, when an act is barbaric and evil, should it be pardoned?
I know of an African Ambassador who is passionate about the plight of the Chibok Girls and I sought the views of this well-learned diplomat. The African Ambassador; stationed in the West, responded with this poetic piece; which would make Nigeria, Nigerians and the Buhari-led administration ruminate.
Oh my Goodness 500days! I can say "500 nights of nightmare for Chibok girls- silence is violence"
When the world around Chibok girls,
When it is full of silence on violence.
When we forget that silence is violence
When we refuse to break the silence.
When we open the doors to violence,
We fail to silence the violence!
Violence to vulnerable young ones in schools,
Violence to our daughters, sisters, friends.
Violence to our mothers and wives,
Violence that will end the future of humanity.
And humanity is you and I, is he and she,
We are failing to silence the violence!
Violence that is committed by our sons,
Sexual violence in the context of rape.
Violence by our brothers and neighbours,
Violence by our leaders and the ruled.
The silence over somebody’s violence,
The silence is violence!
500 days of concerted silence,
500 nights of nightmare for Chibok girls.
The abductors are our sons and daughters,
The victims are our daughters; our future.
If the mothers of the abductors break the silence,
They open the doors to the triumph;
To silence the violence.
Chibok has become dangerous,
Not because of people who are evil.
But because of leaders who do nothing,
Because 200 girls’ value is nothing.
In a “corner” where a paid government judge can grace,
Grace to break a marriage over a late served meal!
The parents of the abductors and the abductees,
In a concerted effort to break the violence;
That is silencing my conscience on violence.
I, who is; some miles away in Africa,
In a country where silence has no place for violence.
Where women’s rights are human rights indeed; not in words,
As it requires more than words to protect women and girls from violence.
Where the equality of women is a cornerstone of our democracy,
Because “being there for women” is being there for yourself!
We could end the insurgents in 1997/8 using their parents to talk to them,
The same can happen in Nigeria with Chibok girls.
The solution of Chibok girls is not in Paris or London, nor Washington DC,
It is neither with Angelina Jolie nor from UN resolution in New York City.
The solution is in Nigeria with Nigerians!!
Do not fail to silence the violence because silence is violence
Africa has solutions to her problems,
Outside Africa is just sort of abstract or speculation.
After all they have the weapons industry, and we become the target!!
It is very sad!
But it is cold comfort that 500 days after 276 girls were abducted, 57 escaped, 219 are still in captivity but none of the girls has been rescued. Nigerians know there must be a logical conclusion to the Chibok Girls abduction. We can not sweep this under the carpet or wish it away. Doing so would be silencing the voices of all those abducted by Boko Haram including Chibok Girls
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