Open Letter to the Chibok Girls By Nkannebe Raymond
It is with a heart full of empathy and eyes soaked with tears that I write this missive to you even though I cannot guarantee that anyone of you would come across it especially the ‘unlucky’ ones who might have been dead in one circumstance or the other, and thus robbed of every opportunity to read this either now or in the future.
I know by now, many, if not all of you would have lost count of days, not to talk of date as a result of the predictably unfavourable nature of your abduction, but if by chance anyone of you happen to come across this, know then that it is exactly 104 days since after providence dealt such a heavy blow to you by making you slaves in the hands of a murderous group- who have sworn never to reconcile you with your parents save the government agree to a swap deal involving members of your abductors, held in various prisons across the country-a very tough and difficult decision which Mr. President and his retinue of advisers both at home and abroad have continued to vacillate and mule over, without coming to any compromise. No thanks to the counsel of some so-called World powers and the pretentious stance of defending the sovereignty of the Country. You would not immediately blame him.
Last week, the world marked 100 days since you became prisoners of Terrorism with events held in many cities across the world condemning the activities of your abductors, praying for God’s intervention in your peculiar misfortune and entreaties made for the government to do all that is within its powers to ensure your safe rescue and possible reconciliation back with your parents who have seen the worst of days and nights since your abduction.
For me, it was a very sober day. Coming to terms with how it would have been were I, to be in your shoes was an exercise in futility as that could only be imagined. Watching the Tv and seeing the swollen faces of your parents on that day, brought tears down my bony chiks. It was the same for many people across the country who have shared in the pains of your misfortune I am convinced. It was not the pain that you have been without your parents for a whopping one hundred days alone, the bigger pain, was the near cluelessness of the government and the military in devising a means of rescuing you out of the ‘Lion’s’ den which you have been trapped. All that we have been fed since the day you left, have been assurances and re-assurances by the military and their executive arm, that you shall be rescued soon. But it is all too clear that they have a meaning of ‘soon’, different from the one in the dictionary of many NIgerians.
The circumstances of your abduction nearly four months ago and still counting, bares it all as to how human lives in Nigeria has been reduced over time to those of ants. That there was a security report which the military deliberately refused to act upon, speaks volume of how security of Life and Property is far from being the raison d’etere of the government here and hence why we continue to put out the fire only after it has left damage in its wake. That there were no adequate security presence to keep you safe and possibly prevent the occurrence of your present predicament, shows how the government have failed to keep you and yours safe and thus, the reason why you have spent the last three months (For those of you still alive) far from your hostels, from your parents, your teachers, your textbooks and your destinies hanging in the balance. What was your sin? Being born into such a harrowing enclave called Nigeria and seeking to turn it around for the better by seeking the light that education guarantees in classrooms that lack good facilities and hostels with no ceiling fans or mosquito nets. Yet you remained undeterred. But even at that, look what the government of your country has done to you. I share your pains Amina, Gambo, Hauwa, Aisha, Fatima et. al.
It would strike you to know that many months after your abduction, it has been a herculean task for us to come to terms with your exact number. The figures continue to fluctuate between 247, 257, 274, 293, 223 etc. You may want to know why? It is because, your so-called leaders have reduced human lives to mere statistics and that is why the figures continue to fluctuate as though it is the GDP figures of a robust economy which our country cannot be counted among. Not at least, when we want to tell ourselves the truth. And while you are pained at that, it will strike you more to know that your fadora-hat wearing president never deemed it fit to visit your community or the school where you were abducted from, neither did he think it wise to visit your parents to feel their pulse and be a beacon of hope to them, until he was advised to do so, by the young girl from Pakistan. You must have heard about her. Yes, the little Malala Yousafzai that survived taliban close-range bullets few years ago while campaigning for the Right of Education of the Girl-Child curtailed by the Taliban government in that country. His reason? fear of possible attack on his life by your abductors. For him, it is the citizens that should die for the country, and not the other way round. All it takes, is for him to issue some monotonous speech written by paid clutchers of the pen within the presidency that hardly carry any touch of emotion in them after each loss, and business continues as usual. I’m constrained to tell you all this, because they are the reality we are faced with and because nature would be unkind to me should I die without putting them out…… Should in case, you never get to read them(God Forbid), maybe your siblings and friends may read them someday.
May I also chance this medium to the ends of letting you know that not only the government has failed you but also we the citizens of this country have failed you. We have failed you because we refused to do our home works years ago and as such an insurgency such as this, reared its ugly head into our land and its soldiers have now taken you for sex slaves and domestic workers. We failed you because we refused to make our hay while the sun was shinning away. We failed you because we deliberately refused to seek the black sheep in the day. Now the darkness has suddenly come upon us, and the goat has refused to bleat for us to know its location. We failed you because we have relinquished our powers and have allowed fear to steal the MAN in us. A nation of 170 million people, held to ransom by no more than 2,000 of its own people, is what we are. We should be ashamed of it. Whatever it is that we have started doing, we started late and can be described as crying over a spilt milk or begging for repentance on the day of reckony. Little or no success could be recorded in such exercises. But that is who we are and that is what we have been doing with the #BrinfBackOurGirls Campaign and a whole lot of them whose leaders and members, are in it, for one parochial sentiment or the other and hardly out of love for mother land and compassion for your plight.
I wonder how life must have been for you. I look at how we have literally carried on with our activities as though nothing has happened to us, and wonder whether everything is right with us. I watch and read about how your leaders despite your predicament, still manage to attend lavish parties and stupendous occasions and ‘Owambes’ with their teeth rented in the air as though auditioning for ‘Close Up’ advertorials and I ask where has the national conscience gone? Barring every empathy for the mood of the nation, they have carried on with life as though nothing of such abduction has happened with little regard had for the sensibilities of your parents who watch the screens of their TVs and clutching their radio sets day in day out to hear the least snippet of information regarding your rescue operation. They have become the Mario Antoniette of this era, who would rather have your parents eat cake, when bread has become an elephant’s ivory. To put it in the simplest of terms, THEY DO NOT CARE but merely wear scowl on their faces in front of cameras. It is the sort of deceptive government ran in your country.
Your parents even though I’m yet to meet with any of them, have voiced it out severally, that they would that your were confirmed dead, than living with the knowledge of having a daughter whose health status you do not know, or who you cannot wager a dime,as to whether she is alive or not. At the last count, 11 of them have given up the struggle from persistent thoughts that is a nemesis to the human Blood Pressure-what a harrowing way to live and to die! What a country to be born and to live in!
Hauwa, Amina, Aisha, Fatima, Gambo, I know one or two of you bear these names. Yes I know, because I have lived in Borno and interacted with her peoples. Just in case any of you happen to come upon this letter, let it known to your colleagues that we have failed you and we are deeply sorry for that. We are sorry for our dereliction of duty. We are sorry For our ‘Siddon look’ and for our over reaching carelessness and we are deeply sorry for it. There is nothing more that can be said at this juncture, only for a plea that you give us some more time as we shall come for you and against your abductors. We shall not stop at anything un till we rescue you from your abductors and reconcile you all in the warm embrace of your parents. For those of you, who obviously might not make it back, history will never forget as she is always well informed. It is given than no honour could bring back the life of a lost one, but honourable deaths demand honourable respect and that we will never falter on in that circumstance.
Rounding up on this letter at this time-12:45 AM today, I return back to my bed with thoughts of how harrowing life might be, wherever you may be. The thought of the mosquitoes haranguing me in my apartment and another thought given to how tougher it would be for you all in your new terrestrial cum sahara habitat, makes me want to give up. But I won’t, for if I do, I wonder what your lot shall be. Capitulation is the least we could make do with now.
For your captors, tell them, that however long the night may last, the break of dawn is not lost to it. It is only but a matter of time, before nemesis, karma and fate all rolled into one, would catch up with them and the children of Israel shall be made free once more from their ‘Pharoahic’ captors as the world has seen and conquered even tougher cells of their ilk. You must not give up.
You are all assured of my prayers and those of many Nigerians as well as the global community. See you when we finally Bring you Back.
The writer is a Law student in one of Nigeria’s Leading Universities. He is a Public Affairs commentator and a Nigerian who believes in the Nigerian Project. He is on twitter @RayNkah/Raymondnkannebe@gmail.com
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