Open Letter to my Fellow #BringBackOurGirls Campaigners: While we Wait…

My dear fellow campaigners,

I greet you in the name of the struggle.

I decided to write this open letter with the hope that it gets to you, and other colleagues around the world. This letter is necessitated in view of recent happenings regarding our abducted daughters and sisters, especially with the October 17th announcement of a supposed ceasefire, and the hope that our girls will be back soonest. Whether our hope is yet again dashed or not, time will tell. But while we wait for time to take its natural course, I deem it imperative to write this letter to you – the crux of which you will decipher as you read on. Please oblige me.

My fellow comrades, recall when we started this advocacy over six months ago, none of us, not even our leaders, thought we would still be demanding #BringBackOurGirls 197+ days after. I believe we have kept on because of several reasons, one – if not topmost – of which is the HOPE that our cry would yield result someday. When the struggle kept on longer than we anticipated, remember how we had to develop ‘Core Values’ to guide and constantly remind ourselves why we are doing this, especially as it became obvious that our consistency beats the imagination of some Nigerians, who we would not blame, because showing empathy and compassion towards someone and something that does not directly affect us is not a culture we are used to. This is why there’s been several failed attempts to confine us into several boxes that fit their ideology, interpretation, and understanding of what we are about, without realizing that we have since chosen to defy all odds and shun all sentiments, interests, affiliations, and biases in standing together, unwaveringly, for this cause. Remember our ‘Core Values’? H.U.M.A.N.I.T.E.E.D.S. – Hope, Unity, Motivation, Affability, Nationalism, Integrity, Transparency, Empathy, Equity, Discipline, and Sacrifice. You see, HOPE is the very first!

My friends, let’s dissect ‘Hope’ a bit so we are on the same page. As simple as that word – ‘hope’ seem, it carries a lot of weight. Hope is never sensible. Hope defies every iota of human reasoning and calculations; it crushes the concept of tangibility. In fact, hope is only meaningful in its intangibility. When there is something visible to hold on to, hope looses its relevance. Hope says: ‘against hope, still hope.’ Gladly, hope never puts one to shame (the Bible). You know, just as I do, that our hope has become so vague in view of several unfruitful attempts to #BringBackOurGirls. Besides, with the indicting Report by the Human Rights Watch on violence by this deadly sect against our girls and women, coupled with the incoherent information, and now silence, from government quarters, as well as firsthand detailing of on-the-ground realities by fellow citizens in the North East, not leaving out the continuous attacks and abductions, you would agree with me that except a miracle happens soonest, we seem to have no choice but to keep praying, believing, and hoping something divine happens. In fact, several logical calculations have summed up to opine that the agreed truce may actually be a hoax. Who wouldn’t think so when attacks and abductions have continued, making it uncertain that the said ongoing negotiation will yield our most desired expectation? But, my friends, asides obvious government ineptitude, don’t forget that the sect we are dealing with has an ultimate goal they are striving to achieve, and one of their strategies include a bid to scatter our ‘language’ and divide us; yet, unfortunately, some gullible and selfish politicians are playing out this script – latching on our collective pain in their bid to score cheap political points. This is why it is important that you and I are not unconscious tools in aiding them. So, you see, in this instance, while we are well within our right to be hope-less based on antecedents and current realities; my friends, it is better that we choose to still unify in the face of this absurdity so much so that if our girls are not brought back in the instance of the said ongoing negotiation, we would be found erring on the path of optimism and hope as against pessimism and despair. We loose nothing by so doing. We are strengthened in unity, and weak in division. We must deliberately disregard the tendency to prove that we are right and ‘they’ (the government) is wrong. This battle against our common enemy is one that requires our collective strength and efforts.

My fellow activists, now is each of our core value, especially the first – hope, put to test. Shall we fail? We’ve come too far to goof, you know? And in passing this test, it is not so much about vocalizing or chanting that we hope and hold tight to our core values, it is much more about acting, communicating, exuding, spreading, and holding other ‘unbelievers’ up with the same values with which we choose to be defined. We gain nothing doing otherwise; rather we subject the girls we claim to love to yet another 24-hours of horror when we do the contrary. You may ask ‘how’? You see, my friends, we, #BringBackOurGirls campaigners and our supporters, are the voices that amplify the pains of these girls, not only because we publicly clamour for their return, but our thoughts, words, and actions carry enormous authority, such that when ‘released’, a universal conspiration immediately ensue to bring our thoughts and words to reality. That sounds spooky, right? Let me explain: when we say something out of the abundance of our thoughts, it begins a ‘life’ of its own, so much so that what we think will happen is said in our words, and this eventually manifest because we have released it. Thoughts and words – negative or positive – are so powerful that they eventually become reality. This is not to put the blame on us or excuse government ineptness; rather this is to ensure we are not found wanting in any of the parts we have to play in this quest; even when, in so doing, we defy logicality. I know how difficult this is, but herein is the ‘law of conspiracy’ explained – negativity begets negativity; positivity produces positive outcomes. I am particularly concerned for the parents who, since the announcement of the ceasefire, have been meeting and preparing for the return of their girls. This is why I have chosen to tow the path of optimism, hope, and positivity, even in the face of nothing tangible, that this just has to be true and fruitful. You will be right to say I’m consciously shutting down the reasoning part of my brain, but I’d rather do so than otherwise, because we must not have more parents join the two that are now hospitalized for high blood pressure, a resultant of over anxiety. Besides, these poor, helpless parents have waited long enough. This just has to yield positive result. So, because I want that positive outcome, I choose to think, say, and act positively.

My friends, I crave your indulgence to allow me chip in this slightly unrelated concern. Forgive me if this comes across as insensitive to the depth of our current anticipation and pains; this is me trying to use one stone to kill several birds. Kindly bear with me. My friends, I am quite worried about the nose-diving reputation of our dear country, especially in these trying times. Permit me to remind you of Section 24 (b) of our Constitution; which states that: “it shall be the duty of every citizen to help to enhance the power, prestige, and good name of Nigeria, defend Nigeria and render such national service as may be required.’ The part of enhancing the ‘good name of Nigeria’ kind of hit me; and I said to myself that despite the fact that our government has not done well in showing exemplary leadership in protecting the dignity and honour of our name, particularly with respect to the abduction of our Chibok girls, we must never allow ourselves to be pulled into that state where we also contribute to dragging the name of this country in the mud, albeit unconsciously. For instance, in Abuja where I live, there are tens of foreign journalists on ground, all waiting for either the positive breaking news or otherwise about the fate of our girls. Should we not get the positive news that we all anticipate (God forbid), I fear the gravity of shame and reputational damage this would further cause us as a nation. But the choice is left to you and I to ensure that if this becomes another failed attempt, we would still uphold the dignity of our motherland in our words, responses, and comments without stopping to demand good governance, accountability, and, most importantly, that our girls be brought back swiftly. Believe me, I know how difficult it is to uphold the fourth line of our National Pledge in the face of untold failed expectations, corruption, and other vices; but, my friends, this is the allegiance we owe our dear land, which obviously does not have conditions attached to it as to when we should uphold our unity or not. In and out of season, we just have to, no matter how difficult it seem. Please, let’s try.

In conclusion, my fellow crusaders, I do hope that the tone/pattern of your texts, Facebook posts, tweets, articles, conversations, actions, etc will be such that convey hope, optimism, and positivity and not otherwise, because this is not about us, but the innocent girls we represent, who keep languishing in pains and horror each time it becomes known that the constituted authority is not pulling sufficient weight to bring them back or when there is another failed attempt. We must never allow any circumstance make us unintentionally deviate from the nobleness of our motive. I love the part of the Scriptures that admonishes that ‘… having done all to stand, STAND.’ Now, in the face of uncertainty, having done all that we know and is within our purview and power, we just have to STAND – wait for God to breathe on our unrelenting efforts and cause a miracle to happen. iBelieve! Do you?

I so look forward to meeting you on the streets, sometime very soon, when we will all be singing, dancing, and cheering on the gallant return of our girls.


Bukky Shonibare

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