When I first read the news, I started sobbing immediately. I said, “What type of society do we live in that hundreds young girls get abducted all at once and the world is not rioting and coming together to find them?” I just couldn’t believe this could happen in 2014. I know it happens every day around the world, but the number “234” just really struck me. I pictured myself being taken by those men in the dark of the night. I can feel what those young girls must have felt. I was never abducted, but I have gone through some things in my childhood and young adult life. I know what “real fear” not only feels like but tastes like. I was not there, but my spirit was. After angry Facebook posts about the issue, Fola of 1953 sent me a text message with a flyer. She wrote, “Let’s join forces.” When I read that, I was out having a drink with my fiance, and I shouted, “Yes!” He was confused at the sudden excitement, but was happy to know the reason. I reposted the flyer immediately all over my social media and encouraged others to join me. I did not organize the event. I simply supported it.
On Saturday when I got there, I was just so amazed. I met Gugu Lethu, the young artist who created the event. I gave her a hug and thanked her for starting something so amazing that needed to be done. Not only was it the most beautiful protest I’ve ever seen or been to, it was extremely powerful. I started crying like a baby when someone started counting from 1-234, and after each number the crowd shouted, “present!” It reminded me when I was in school in Haiti. The students would wear their clean, crisp uniforms with shiny shoes. We all had about the same hairstyle, and the teacher would shout our name, and we would respond, “present!” By the time the crowd reached “Number 70”, that’s when the tears came. And yes, here they come again as I’m typing this. The fact that we don’t know the girls’ names, and we have to refer to them as numbers makes me so sad.
This is not a Nigerian issue. It’s not an African issue. It’s not a black issue. It’s a world issue. People still don’t even know these girls are missing, and it’s up to us to raise awareness! I’m still hopeful that they will return safely to their families and loved ones.