Three months ago, Chibok existed as a lone town at the far North-eastern outskirt of Nigeria; utterly ordinary and almost non-existent in the National Geography of most Nigerians. Until that fateful moment in time! Until that sober point in our National history when some of our girls were whisked away from known liberty by some named but unknown vagabonds to an unknown destination to be subjected to things unknown. What crass audacity in a lawful society!
However, since the dawn of this anti-juvenile horror, some of us have not hesitated to march over long-standing ancient divides to explicitly identify ourselves with the families of the temporarily departed, developing a vigorous sense of “chibokhood” in the process. And like the chibok family, with the Chibok family, and for the Chibok family, we await with uneasy eagerness the reappearance of a lost sisterhood.
At some desperate point, speculations were widespread about the unholy abduction being a grand attempt at political theatrics; one fantastic execution of a practical jungle melodrama. Was it? But how we did hope this wasn’t true. Or perhaps we actually hoped it was true, that it was all a dirty joke soon to end. Then, just like in the theaters, the whole drama, in all of its horrors, took on a new aspect. Our girls were being transacted as cheap bridal commodities, we heard. While still trying to recover from the last twist, a visual dimension was actually introduced as if to affirm to our unbelieving senses we were indeed at the movies. We were treated to a short movie clip in which Global spectators were forced to listen to a string of statements from the leader of the Sambisa band attesting the initiation of their girl-captives into a new order of faith, among other things. Naturally, we cared less about this new development as long as we were assured of our girls’ safety.
From then on, we became Media Fanatics consumed with the activity of sniffing out and grasping at every news content with Chibok themes or war-against-terror tone. And it was no coincidence that within few days of the occurrence of this unprecedented National tragedy, the CHIBOKFAMILY by word charted a pathway to global consciousness as people all over the world cried out in demanding a speedy re-assignment of governmental priority, and chanting without break, #BringBackOurGirls. The English would say this is EMPATHY; Psychologists, of course, would properly name it ALTRUISM; But I have chosen to call it HUMANITY- The last hope of collective survival!
Constitutionally, we are forced to look up to the highest governmental authority on the land whenever our various basic rights as worthy citizens are being violated. But, Alas! The ancient brick wall of indifference on the part of Nigeria’s highest political class remains standing. No visible path yet to speedy justice on this land. Dwelling too much on this device of silence initially employed by our sluggish federation as a defense strategy would avail nothing. Rather, I desire more earnestly to dwell a little on a few lines from one of Sam Omatseye’s Facebook notes titled: Azonto and The Presidential Dance – “When Boko Haram boys shoot, bomb, and kidnap, a leader does not leave the stage to protest on the streets. He walks onto the stage and inspires. He galvanizes the troops and flashes the light at the end of the tunnel.”
This conscience writer has said so much already and distinguishing in the process the “expected reaction” of a worthy presidency and the “obtained reaction” from our own presidency. If there remains more to be said, I accord posterity that honour.
When help wasn’t forthcoming from above, patriotic Nigerians felt compelled to scream from rooftops across the nation in a concerted effort to get the world’s attention. Thus was the historical media frenzy unleashed. An army of human rights crusaders like never before, burning with righteous indignation, was set one and the same time against a cold leadership and an anti-human sect. Our passionate voices transformed instantly into aggrieved faces on Facebook, Twitter trended with #BBOG, Instagram boomed with both invocative and evocative pictures of all kinds, televisions went agog with undying reportage and footage, throngs of adventurous journalists were unleashed upon once-upon-a-quiet-land of Chibok: in one word, WHITE HELL was let loose with the hosts having as its sole demand the speedy liberation of a few but vital members of the global race gone missing.
International volunteers flew into the country in their numbers offering their armaments in help; One million Mexican women stood on their feet demanding the rescue of “our girls”; schools and organizations embarked on peaceful but highly charged protests; empathetic mothers all over the world lipped prayers of divine intervention; families were swiftly united in cross-country solidarity; and even though, none knew what was going to happen in the next moment, we all knew hope and we clung tenaciously unto it.
It is true that mine is a country swarming with political elites who believe that every indignation, just or not, raised against them will eventually die with time, with the once furious crowd giving up in mortal exhaustion. But this time-proven belief seems to have met with its equally time-worn counter-principle: collective solidarity against evil and its messengers. Rather than the enraged voices dying down in time and space, they keep re-echoing with haunting sonority. These voices have just refused to be silenced even with threats of physical and verbal assault from vested powers. Oh, bless the Abuja Chibok Community! Your tenacity and perseverance has kept many of us on our toes.
It is past 90 days already, the posited deadline. Guns and arms we have not, but that which we possess in abundance – our voice, our will, our humanity – we shall never cease to deploy until the battle is won. Many thanks to the heroes of the present, women and men, the known and the unknown, the elites and the people, who have, hitherto, stood unyielding in pursuing this historical struggle of ‘humanity for humanity’ to its glorious end. This letter is addressed to you all that you may be reminded, in case your spirit is flagging and your heart weary, that “the beauty of a labour is seeing it through its course”. I write to you and no other, because we are their last living hope, their distant whispers in the night, the prayer they say and the tears they shed, their voices in a care-less universe, their guardian angel in the midst of bleak reality.
Let us, therefore, strive to tarry in this fight with this one mindset: that even if it has been appointed that victory shall not be granted our cause in the end as we wanted it, let it at least be recorded of us – you, I and every other faithful defender of endangered lives – that when the familiar beast came dragging away one of our own, we did not flee in terror, we did not cower in shame, we did not rot in silence. But, rather, that we stood our ground, that we risked our collective and individual lives, that we abandoned our comfort habitations in one mighty quest to redeem the lost members of the race.