On the 28th I was introduced to Hadiza, organizer of the #BringBackOurGirls march slated for the 30th, in Abuja. Idea was to march from Unity Fountain to the National Assembly and the National Security Adviser’s and drop off letters asking questions but more importantly demanding a cohesive, maybe even coherent communication of whatever strategies they have to bring back the over 200 girls kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno on the 14th of April.

I blogged about it on the 29th, short post explaining why I was going to be a part of the protest, forgetting one important thing – my darling mother reads my blog. She rang that night and called me ‘Chioma’ (the name reserved only for times I have erred), and I started wondering what sin I might have committed. Then she mentioned she read my post (uh oh), and somehow I convinced her I would be fine.

The morning of the 30th I woke up pumped, really excited, uncertain, and a bit worried at the same time. I’d heard of the protest by Polytechnic students and how they got tear gassed by the police. I also know a couple friends who were arrested the day they protested the deaths in the tragedy called the #NISexam earlier in April. Somehow, I knew this would be incident-free but I was ready for anything to be honest.

Had a good brunch, dressed in my most comfortable Reeboks, and started walking from my sister’s house to the road for a taxi when I saw something I will never forget, a woman strangling a baby who couldn’t be more than 11 months old. I froze. She was screaming something (in Hausa) at a man who had just alighted from a bike and was trying to snatch the baby from her.

I crossed over to their side of the road, collected the baby (who had been staring blankly), and then the child started to cry. In between comforting the child and trying to find out what the matter was, I learned that the man is a Police officer (a Corporal), while the woman is his ‘wife’, and the mother of the baby. A bit of a story of how the man wasn’t providing for them and his son (born by another woman), and so she was going to kill the baby and then kill herself.

By this time I was in tears too. Got it together enough to scold both of them, and restrain the woman from inflicting more bite marks on the man (he showed me his chest with bites like he’d been attacked by an animal), promised to help the woman I’d help her start a business if I came back and that child was still alive, and I left. All of this took about 45 minutes.

Got in a taxi and sobbed all the way to Unity Fountain. How does a mother get so frustrated/disillusioned/distraught that she tries to kill her own child?

Got to Unity Fountain, super heavy police presence, SSS dudes trying to infiltrate the crowd (pretty unsuccessfully because they couldn’t have been more obvious), and loads of international press.

Oby Ezekwesili showed up early – she’s a woman and half – and she stayed till the end!! Dang! I was inspired, impressed, encouraged, all of those and more, all at once! She addressed the crowd, and we set off marching to the National Assembly. It started drizzling and she asked if we would melt under the rain, or if we were made of salt. No to both questions so we continued marching. We were joined halfway by the Commissioner of Police for the FCT Joseph Mbu and all I could think as I looked at him with his Bulletproof vest was, “so this is the person who didn’t let Governor Amaechi of Rivers drink water and drop his cup abi?”

We got to the National Assembly gate and we weren’t let in, by this time we were all pretty much soaked to our knickers. Madam Oby said if they didn’t let us in we wouldn’t leave and so we sat on the floor, in the rain. I had tears in my eyes that I couldn’t explain.

Shortly after the heads of the National Assembly (Senate President, Speaker of the House of Reps and his Deputy) drove to the gate, and addressed us, getting wet in the process. All political statements – if you’ve heard the government react to a tragedy you already know half of what they said.

Letter delivered, we marched back (it didn’t stop raining) to Unity Fountain. By the way, Titi Atiku Abubakar, wife of former Vice-President showed up at the National Assembly to join us, I only noticed because her bodyguard tried to push @_yemia to make way for his Principal. Of course Yemi wasn’t having it, and Titi herself asked the bodyguard to leave her alone. Overzealous animal.

Femi Falana walked back with us from the National Assembly, and maybe it was just my cynicism on overdrive but he was loudest for the cameras. We sang a bit more, Hadiza read the statement which had been handed in, there were a few words from relatives of the girls (the leader of the Chibok community kneeling down and thanking us for coming out for them reduced me to tears again), and then it was time to go. It was still raining.

Was really nice to meet @rotexonline, @AbdulMahmud1, @Bellanwa, @SuperGirlTimidi, @ChineEzeks, and @aishajana, tweeps I’ve interacted with but never met, and nice to see @elnathan, @alkayy, @abangmercy, @saratu, @OjaySays, @Xeenarh and of course, @_yemia.

One bowl of hot amala and ewedu after (thankful to the guy who helped us drive Mercy’s car out of the mud, and to Ojay for his jacket – I was shivering), and it was home (and there was no power), getting warm, and then drained (physically and emotionally), bed.

Last thought on my mind? That little girl.

 

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Comments
  1. Nnedimma says:

    Thumbs up to you all.

    Like

  2. Mimz says:

    Well done. Keep pushing us. One day the rest of us (me especially) will wake up and act our conscience. In the meantime, please keep pushing

    Like

  3. Oby is a woman and a half? Last thing on my mind as I read this?
    You are a woman and a half too Chioma.yes you are..

    Like

  4. drnsmusings says:

    Good one. The stangler tho? Haba!

    Like

  5. banjobabbs says:

    Am sorry but this is just my Honest opinion.

    234 girls are missing…I have been pondering over this kidnap situation and something dont add up hence these questions. The students are said to be SSS3 student writing physics examination. QUESTIONS: 1. Why are their names not yet published by the school, state government and WAEC? 2.Why are their pictures not over the news media? 3. How come all 234 students are in SSS3 and all came to write physics examination when the total number of students in the whole school are around 1200? 4. It was announced that the Borno states govt gave N1m each to parents of the missing girls. If thats true. QUESTIONS: 1.Why was this money given to these parents, was it as compensation for the kidnaps or compensation for their deaths? 2. On Tuesday 29th April 2014, the senator from Borno said in the senate that the girls had been taken out of the country to Chad, Niger and Cameroon and married off to their adoptors. QUESTIONS: How come these senators know so much, who are their informants? Why is the wife of the state governor organising women to pressure FG in Abuja after the National Security Council has ordered the armed forces to use all state resources to secure the release of the adopted Girls. I just wonder how 200+ girls can be kidnapped at once. How come we havent seen those girls who they said have escaped on tv? If the Ss3 student aren’t up to 120 in a school of 1200, how is it possible 234 girls are missing? Where are the school authorities? We haven’t seen any of them on tv. WHO IS FOOLING WHO? I need objective answers pls, its time all Nigerians start asking questions than drawing to conclusions. #DeadCurious#BringBackOurGirls or were there any Girls really missing?
    God help us … Meet you @ the top @Chioma

    Like

    • You’ve got a million questions Banjobabbs which I can honestly say I have no answers to.

      What I can say is that the tears from relatives, old men and women I have seen are real, or a lot more people are deserving of Oscars in this country.

      There is also the acceptance of responsibility by Boko Haram which appears contrived but cannot be discounted.

      All we’re saying is we want the girls back. And soon too, because three weeks is a heck of a long time.

      Like

      • banjobabbs says:

        Alright Chioma … I pray the young girls are found if true … … Nigeria Shall Be free !!! OUr land shall be healed !! Peace shall prevail someday,Very soon !!! God Bless

        Like

  6. banjobabbs says:

    Reblogged this on MOTivaTOR 'femi and commented:
    When I read this article… I discovered that There is hope for Nigeria… Youths who are willing to stand strong and defend justice

    Like

  7. tenderonii says:

    YOU ARE A ROCK,..FGS….Your living up that Name,..you actually showed up to that womans case like a Fairy God-Sister………I love you dear
    The post brought me to tears as I read it on Frances’ blog….one thing I know is that, the “good people” are not sleeping and i’m sure God isn’t..things are working out for our good as a nation..those girls are safe, they will be returned unharmed in Jesus Name, Amen
    thank you for this…hopefully when I come to Nigeria in June,..I’ll see you, I live in Abuja aswell

    Like

    • Oh wow… Tenderonii thank you for writing in! Big amen o, I believe the girls will be found and returned too, ALIVE in Jesus name. Fingers crossed I’m in Nigeria in June… not really around here much. But thank you!

      Like

  8. […] first #BringBackOurGirls protest was on the 30th of April, 2014, led by Hadiza Bala Usman, Aisha Yesufu, and Obiageli Ezekwesili. I […]

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