The Second Disappearance of The Chibok GirlsOn April 14 2014, 276 girls were taken out of their dormitory beds in the middle of the night. The next time they were seen was on a Boko Haram propagandist video on YouTube. The government of Nigeria was secretly hoping the national amnesia would kick in and they would be forgotten, so for 4 weeks, they were radio silent. The President was partying and giving centenary awards and it seemed to be just another day in the republic.
Then the social media got wind of the story, in part thanks to Michelle Obama. #BringBackOurGirls took over Twitter as if that was why it was invented. Facebook, Instagram, any social media without #BringBackOurGirls was considered a joke. Then international media got wind of the story. The CNN, BBC and Al Jazera satellites turned to Nigeria’s longitude and latitude. Camera, lights, microphones, media coverage rivaled only by the FIFA World Cup.
The local media had to feel among and so AIT and NTA sent out reporters, who were asking all the wrong questions and getting all the wrong answers.
The Newspapers didn’t need to think too hard to get headlines, #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS was all anyone wanted to read. Magazine covers became poor quality YouTube screen grabs of the Chibok girls. If there was ever a time to find them…
Days passed, nights crept away, the weeks skipped and the months ran along. The girls weren’t back. Media coverage was wearing off, the world needed something else to keep it going and naturally it gradually began to move on. The Nigerian government was being stingy with its information anyway. The local media on the governments payroll (of course I’m talking about NTA & co) do what they do best- cover visits of politicians and statements of retired politicians not to forget parties (paid for by politicians).
Then the Chibok girls disappeared for the second time. They vanished from our Twitter timelines (save a few). They evaporated from our Facebook feeds and like the filter, they faded out of our Instagram.
The girls no longer made the headlines, they got a few side columns but not really headlines. Magazine covers went back to celebrities with fake accents. They no longer made the chorus of hit songs (FACT CHECK: they never actually made the chorus of hit songs, even though Wizkid and Davido are in the same age bracket with a lot of them).
People got tired of blogging about them, tweeting about them. In fact you were painted as hustling for political appointments if you kept talking about them (just ask Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who hasn’t stopped looking and coincidentally was still not nominated for a political appointment).
They no longer made prayer points at church, and were dematerialized from the pastors sermon.
‘Nobody is missing’ they said, ‘it’s all politics’ said the man in far away Lagos. What should have been the greatest point of unification in our history was reduced to political schisms.
The Chibok girls became a symbol for something bigger than themselves. They represented the millions of youth with a ‘bright future’ paved by dim street lights
They represented all the families that were erased or displaced. Their situation reminded us of everything we don’t want Nigeria to be that it already is.
For the second time the Chibok girls were gone. The national amnesia had kicked in, a little late but kicked in all the same. So we go from day to day not knowing whether the next to disappear would be Maitama or Ikeja, Portharcourt or Calabar. We go on in the famous words of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Suffering and Smiling.