Monday, April 06, 2015

Bring Back Our Girls --- Please!


Idowu Adebote, my maternal uncle, went missing over 25 years ago. I never met him, and all I know about him is from stories my Mother has told. I am told he was strong, handsome, and wilful. I am also told he walked off into the sunset one evening, never to return. It is 25 years now, and the family continues to search. It is 25 years now, and they still investigate reports of his sighting with all seriousness.

I have two siblings, a sister and a brother, and they mean the world to me. As a first-born “big brother”, I feel extremely responsible for them. We share a common history, forged in shared memories of joys and pains. They have known me longer than most people, and are most likely to stick with me till the end – regardless of what the future holds. I cannot imagine how it would feel if one of them went missing.

*****

In the months after the Chibok girls were seized, Daystar’s weekly prayers for Nigeria were for their safe and speedy return. I would pray fervently, desperately even – beseeching heaven for their return before all hope was lost – until a few months ago. One Sunday, I wondered to myself what kind of life they would live if they were recovered after so long in captivity. I concluded they were irreparably damaged already. I gave up.

*****

Every day for 357 days, mothers have sat at their doors and stared into the distance, desperately willing their daughters to appear – as though returning from an errand. Every day for 357 days, brothers have looked to their sisters’ favorite dinner places, missing a huge chunk of their hearts and childhoods. Every day for 357 days, fathers have cried themselves to sleep, wishing they could exchange places with their girls.

It hit me last night that I would never stop searching, hoping, mobilizing, and praying if one of those girls was my sister.

Would you?

*****

The Yoruba people of Nigeria have a saying: “Omo ení kú, ó sàn ju omo ení nù lo”. This loosely translates to “It is better for one’s child to be dead, than for one’s child to be missing”. Death brings closure, and a sense of finality. To be missing does not. My mother will search for her brother till he is found, confirmed dead, or till her dying day.

Now I hope again. I pray again. I believe again. For the parents who hurt; for the siblings who mourn; for the nation that grieves.

Bring back our girls.



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