#bringbackourgirls. A phrase that dominated 2014 and was often accompanied by a solemn famous face staring down into the camera, with an expression that was almost convinced that the sheer fierceness of their gaze would transport these girls home.
More than 3 years later and everyone has moved on to solemnly holding plaques about something else, whilst they pat themselves on the back for their pseudo-activism, and initiate minimal change.
For anyone who is not aware of the event I am talking about, on the 14-15 April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the government secondary school in the town of Chibok in Borneo State, Nigeria.
More than 3 years later, over 100 girls are still missing.
The issue I have with this is that the western supporters of the bring back our girls movement fell into a form of “clicktivism” where the appeal of supporting the in vogue campaign allowed people to feel satisfied in being a social justice warrior and be able to put the title activist in their Instagram bio when many did not take the time to truly understand or pursue what they were fighting for.
I can’t dispute the power of a collective sentiment and that there were positive repercussions of this global support. However, it is not enough; Amnesty International estimated that over 2000 girls were abducted in Nigeria in the year that followed the Chibok girls kidnapping, with many forced into sexual slavery. After the wave of detached sympathy, this has now faded and is no longer widely discussed or fought against.
Our generation especially is incredible at understanding and utilizing the power of a mass movement. But with so much to fight for, we end up halfheartedly fighting for everything and achieving little. For the people that deliberately claim the title activist for show and don’t actually care, thank you for unintentionally contributing to something that could change everything. But I am trying to appeal to the people that do care and forget or maybe weren’t aware of their actions up until this point because if we all try to keep the momentum going, lasting and substantial change could potentially be achieved.
I believe the next step after posting a hashtag, wearing a t-shirt or reposting an Instagram picture is to educate yourself, educate others, and continue to have discussions about such matters.
So instead of asking to bring back our girls, try to continuously demand, “why aren’t they home yet?”