This piece was contributed by Ifeanyi Nsofor. Ifeanyi is a public health physician, working for EpiAfric, in Abuja, Nigeria.
Lately in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, it has become difficult to know what to do. Some days hurt, other days hurt more. We drive around the city’s broad roads, stare at the new World Trade Centre rising into the city skies and indulge ourselves in the excitement of living in the capital of Africa’s largest economy. As we drive, we give way to another siren, the convoy of yet another of our “leaders” apparently rushing for a meeting taking place in our interest. We stop briefly at the red lights and children that should be in school run to clean our windscreen; we spare them a thought and continue on our journey. This last week has been different. I can’t get the 276 girls, now missing for over two weeks, out of my mind. They were taken from their school. Their school!
Thursday provided an opportunity for some of us to at least come together and encourage each other. Leading us with her voice was the Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who has really stood out and grown in such significance as a voice of hope for millions of young Nigerians over the last couple of years. A few other well known faces in the small but determined crowd in Abuja on Thursday were Dr. Kole Shettima (Director of Africa Office of McArthur Foundation), Segun Adeniyi (ThisDay Newspaper), Ms. Modupe Ozolua (Chief Executive Officer of Body Enhancement limited), and Ghali Umar N’Abba, (former Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives).
You could feel the empathy, anger and frustration with the kidnapping of the school girls. The rally really was a ‘village meeting’ of sorts (Dr. Ezekwesili’s description) and most people sat on grass, mats, rocks and few stood. It was participatory and as many people as possible were given the chance to speak. We discussed what we could do collectively to make our voices heard by those with in a position to do more. At the end of the day, we had challenged and encouraged each other, proffered suggestions on what to do next and committed ourselves to #BringBackOurGirls.
At that point, we had no idea that the news would break that same evening of another bomb blast in Nyanya, Abuja, killing another set of innocent people going about their daily chores, striving to make a living.
Yet, we refuse that our spirit be broken. We refuse to be distracted from our cause. This is our problem, and solve it we will, by standing firm and holding on to the dreams of the country we will build. But in the process, it still hurts so badly …
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead