Monday 5 January 2015

#BBOG: I Have Too Many Feelings But That's Okay

It has been 267 days since the Chibok girls were taken. Since then, the only ones who have returned home are the ones who escaped on their own. It has been apparent pretty much from day one that the government doesn't care, and now the parents of the girls are looking for help elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram has continued to kidnapforcefully recruit and terrorise people in Borno state. (See timeline of attacks here). There has been plenty of effort by activists, organisers and the politically-minded to keep the situation in the North-East on our minds, and I have immense respect for Oby Ezekwesili whose unflagging effort has sustained the #BringBackOurGirls campaign all this time. There are also efforts like the Testimonial Archive Project and BBOG Nigeria (their twitter is here) recording stories, providing updates, and keeping the fight alive.

It is easy to feel inadequate in the overall scheme of things, especially in the face of an issue as massive, complex and mind-boggling as the continued, practically unchecked existence of a group like Boko Haram. I have too many feelings about Nigeria and how it continues to fail its citizens, generally and specifically with regard to the BH situation, and so I decided late last year to commit to writing something every month about Borno state, the girls of Chibok, the victims of Boko Haram; that whole situation. It really doesn't feel like much of anything, but I honestly don't know what else I can do besides this. We must keep talking about this. Something has to be done.

This is the tumblr where I will be posting my pieces. I plan to share other relevant work as well, and I will gladly take submissions. I have already put up one poem there (I don't know how to upload audio on Blogger, sorry - I did try to post it here for those who'd rather not have to click over). It's called 'A Mother's Words for the Chibok Girls' and you can probably hear me getting emotional during the reading, but that's because I am emotional about this matter. I have a daughter. I can not imagine what those parents are going through. Reports say that eleven of them have passed on since the kidnapping, and I won't be surprised if they simply couldn't go on hoping. I can't imagine their pain, and I can't imagine them having to feel that way for the rest of their lives. This is why I'm doing this project. I never want to be able to stop my heart from breaking over the horrible things we humans put one another through.

Please spread the word about this project. For those of us unable to wield anything other than the pen, we must hope that it is indeed mightier than the sword in this case.

Peace, love and light to you all.

PS: The words of the poem are below.

Is anyone even looking anymore?
What is this thing that we are asking for?


You started that trek nine months ago
by now your feet are surely 
too tired
to trace the path
back to safety
and what is that?
How do you catch a word like that
and tuck it into your mouth
when two hundred and sixty-seven repeats 
of a night horrible past comprehending
separate you from it?


What is it that we are asking for, bring back our girls
as if they were stolen from their beds
to be carried preciously 
by rapers and stealers
religious killers
who want that we but ask politely
please, would you kindly
bring back our girls?
We thought it was a fight we were starting,
We thought everyone knew you were deserving
of your own lives
We thought our voices would sound
a war cry
It was not meant to be a plea
Nor a desperate broken whisper
fading like the memory of 
the sound of your laughter


Our girls' beds are cold and wet
with the tears of mothers whose arms ache
with the memory of holding them safe
Please, if only for their sake
bring our babies home.
we miss them
we are afraid for them
You mustn’t let murderers keep them
please let us fix them.


Nine months is a long time -
if you were a bride borne gently into the night
your womb might be empty again
And the child you bore would be
your heart living far enough outside your body
that someone could take her away
just far enough
to keep you and your hope 
faintly alive.
we hope they are alive
we hope they hear us calling out their names,
if only faintly,
We hope their hearts are not as broken 
as their bodies must be
we hope they remember that
there is love waiting for them here
We hope
that someone will #BringBackOurGirls.


You were once children whose dreams set your eyes alight
are there any stars left in them?

We are keeping a light on for when you are brought home.

1 comment:

  1. Speechless...
    I wish someone who could make a difference would read this.