An unprecedented surge of gatherings and rallies across the U.S. and abroad sparked by the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian boarding school girls have made plain the growing anger and frustration of Nigerian and other women over inaction by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration. After three weeks, little more than a call this week for an investigative committee has been accomplished.
Since the rallies Saturday, photos of the impromptu events have appeared on Facebook and on blogs, widely exposing a story which received little press attention when the crime in the town of Chibot in the state of Borno, was first reported.
From Union Square in New York City to Oakland, California, women filled public plazas with hand-written signs that read “Bring Back Our Girls” “Nigeria the World is Watching” “200 Too Many” among others. Most of the women wore headwraps or “geles” which have a spiritual significance for Yoruba women.
In New York, Gugu Lethu said she was planning only to meet with a few women in Union Square to show support for the girl and mothers. However her flier for the event was passed from hand to hand and Facebook page to Twitter and close to 300 women turned up.
Repercussions from the spontaneous gatherings were felt in Nigeria as the wife of President Jonathan tearfully took to the airwaves to accuse the grieving mothers of the missing girls of embarrassing her husband and to order the detention of two of the protesting mothers. She also pledged to march to the governor’s office of Borno state to demand the release of the girls although it is widely believed that the girls were spirited away to be sold as brides of men in neighboring Chad or Cameroon or to members of the terrorist group Boko Haram.
Despite the tragedy, a major economic conference is expected to take place in Nigeria’s capital Abuja from May 7 to 9. President Johnson has given assurances for the safety of the foreign and African guests expected to attend. The BBC is reporting that schools and government offices are to be closed and arrests are being made.
According to the website of the conference: ”The 24th World Economic Forum on Africa comes at a crucial time for the continent. Taking place under the theme, Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs.” Guests include Premier Li Keqiang of China and eleven African heads of state and government.
Some 1,500 people have been killed since January 2014 due to the ongoing fighting between the insurgent Boko Haram group and the Nigerian military.
A U.S. contingent in Nigeria will not be taking part in the girls’ rescue, it was clarified today. Their efforts are limited to security training and crowd control for the business event this week, reports said.
Nigeria’s budget for security this year is more than $6 billion - double the allocation for education.
Meanwhile, the noted author of Half of a Yellow Sun and most recently, Americanah, published a response to the tragedy called “The President I Want.” The full article can be read at: http://www.thescoopng.com/exclusive-chimamanda-adichie-president-want/