Chibok girls: A case for national and international awards
At this time of the year countless numbers of Nigeria’s youths, as indeed youths all over the world, prepare to enter another phase of their studies at institutions encompassing the primary, secondary and tertiary stages of education. Whilst countless others are embarking on divergent paths of training in trade schools and apprenticeships.
Regardless of the chosen path way to better themselves and fulfill their innate potential and purpose, the key factor is that they are allowed to grasp the oftentimes hard won opportunity to become enlightened, productive members of society and responsible global citizens. Without a doubt the world is in an age of advanced awareness and knowledge, as a result of the scientific breakthroughs that paved the way for the Information Technology Revolution, guaranteeing the access and free flow of information and learning to billions on the planet.
The foregoing makes Nigeria’s worst tragedy in our modern history even more soul and gut wrenching. This event was the diabolical and heartless kidnapping and enslavement of 276 girls, who have come to be known around the world as the “Chibok girls.” Their captors removed the female students on the night of April 14, 2014 from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. The inhumane and despicable actions of the perpetrators engendered widespread national and international disgust and opprobrium. It is believed that many of the girls are forcibly living in the Sambisa forest, whilst others were taken to Chad and Cameroun.
In the aftermath of the kidnapping several western governments offered to help to locate and rescue the girls, using available means at their disposal. The countries included Canada, France, United Kingdom, Israel and the United States of America, whilst the European Union passed a resolution “calling for immediate and unconditional release of the abducted girls.” Furthermore, China offered to uncover any pertinent information acquired by its satellites and intelligence services. Such was the universal outcry at the level of barbarity and criminality of the crisis, that it spawned one of the largest social media campaigns ubiquitously known as “#Bring Back Our Girls.”
In as much as unabated universal outrage combined with technical and material assistance are needful to help bring back our girls, we also need to ensure that their plight will be enshrined in our collective consciousness, as a reminder of the existence of dark and sinister forces operating to rid the world of basic freedoms and seeking to stamp their renegade, torturous beliefs on humanity. In addition, we must endeavour to purpose that the “Chibok girls” remain permanent symbols of strength and courage, because they dared to pursue their dreams of securing an education in an environment at enmity with western education and murderously hostile to the education of females. In pursuing their education, they must have instinctively believed that it was an inalienable right to do so and in the unspoiled inner recesses of their burgeoning minds, they must have deduced that securing an education would manifoldly increase their intrinsic human value and dignity and positively impact their offspring.
The “Chibok girls” must surely have harboured dreams and visions of a happy, secure and successful future, which would have included the attainment of their academic and professional goals, cocooned and celebrated by their loved ones, familiar townsfolk and supportive well-wishers. They would definitely have envisaged getting married in the gayest of ceremonies, where they would have been giddy with delight and would have basked in the anticipation of bearing children of their own in joyful circumstances. Everything was possible before the fateful night of April 14, 2014 and the acts of unspeakable cruelty.
The girls unfortunately now represent innocence lost, potential squandered, dreams shattered and lives stolen. The world has to resolve not to accept the nightmare scenario quietly and helplessly, thereby surrendering the narrative to those who desire to imprison the minds and bodies of our young girls. Indeed, if there is any redemption to be salvaged or justice to be had, we need to deepen our resolve to protect vulnerable, young girls seeking an education. The world needs to send a resounding message which signifies unfettered support of and non-negotiable commitment to universal female education.
On the national level, each of the “Chibok girls” should be awarded a National Honour in the appropriate category. Furthermore, a major thoroughfare in every state capital in the nation should be named, “#Bring Back Our Girls” or “Chibok Girls.” On the international level, the “Chibok Girls” should be collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This course of action would go a long way in countering the criminal, inhumane and evil acts of the terrorists by elevating their victims to “International role model status.” In 2014, Malala Yousafzai was the deserving recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of her activism in promoting the right of girls to education in Pakistan. As a result of her work she suffered extreme brutality and survived being shot by the Taliban. In creating an indelible legacy for these brave girls we are redefining them from “tragic victims” to “exemplars and heroines.” They will be viewed all over the world as beacons of courage, hope and perseverance.
Fowler is an international lawyer.