It was 16 degrees Celsius this morning as I made my way to Sandton City, a suburb in Johannesburg South Africa where I would join other concerned global citizens on a 3kilometers protest march against the abduction of nearly 300 teenage girls in Nigeria, to the Nigerian Consulate in Illovo.
It was one of those eerily quiet bus rides, not that I had a seat companion to chat with, but I found that I didn’t have the words nor the strength for those musings and silent exchanges that goes on in ones head. My mind was blank. I was still numb.
Unconsciously, I massaged my temples, as though restoring blood circulation to a numb joint. Willing the heaviness away.
A rollercoaster of emotions washed over me.
Reading and listening to the reports on the daily news, it dawns on me that my beloved country is under siege from within and our girls are taken as spoils of a war we haven’t yet fought but are fast loosing.
The insensitivity of the Nigerian government is not something that is new to me or any other Nigerian for that matter; time after time, their actions and inactions have proved to us that they don’t just care! But nothing ever prepared me for the utter lack of humanity that the Nigerian authorities displayed in the wake of this despicable incident.
It is most upsetting not only because these attacks are brazen in their very nature but because as a woman who resides in a country that has zero regard for the life, safety and wellbeing of women and girls in particular and its citizenry in general I feel very unsafe and uncertain about the very next minute.
A country where teenage girls are forcefully removed by the dozen, from the warmth, safety and love of their family and homes and the powers that be are able to go to sleep. Having the effrontery to showup for work the next day as though it is business as usual.
The monstrosity of these events has not escaped the notice of the international community as the world has united in a singular purpose, to #bringbackourgirls.
They may comeback scared, but they will heal. We, concerned global citizens will hold hands with them and heal alongside them. We just want them back.
As I joined the most memorable walk I probably would ever go on today, I felt the first flicker of hope ignite inside me. We are not alone.
We marched on, chanting songs of solidarity and outrage and pain and hope and love. Holding placards with different messages. Pledging our support for the safe return of these girls. Our daughters, nieces, aunties, friends, cousins, sisters. Future mothers.
The president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan was called out on his sluggishness and what appears to be a cavalier attitude towards the abduction of these girls as there were chants of “Shame on Jonathan” by protesters in the premises of the Nigerian embassy as we awaited a response to the memorandum submitted to the consular general on behalf of all protesting.
As the crowd gradually dispersed, I pondered these questions: have I done enough, am I doing enough? I do not want to protest another blatant act of human rights violation, I want to vote these corrupt and incredible leaders out, start holding them accountable, I want to begin demanding what is due me as a human, a woman, a citizen. I want to be proactive. Will you join me?
Reflecting on the events of today, the imperativeness of the internet and unhindered access to it, social media and freedom of speech is further impressed upon me. Owing to this alone, the global community was able to get a whiff of what is truly going on in Nigeria and take steps towards helping out.
Everyday that has passed since these girls were first taken, I hold a silent vigil and join my heart and voice with those of others the world over for the safe return of these sheros to their families.WWW: Women Weave the Web