Why I Have Not Participated In The #BringBackOurGirls Social Media Campaign

It was only two days ago that I told you why I don’t blog about Nigeria. I woke up yesterday morning to find my Instagram feed over flooded with pictures like the ones here and hash tagged with #BringBackOurGirls. I found it sweet, especially the posts from the international community. Several celebrities – whose names I cannot now remember – put up a picture demanding that our girls be brought back. And then, just as I expected, there came posts about marches and protests.

Bring-Back-Our-Girls Bring-Back-Our-Girls---NY

Here in my corner of America (DMV), there are two protests that I know of. One is at the Nigerian Embassy on a Tuesday, and the other one starts at the Lincoln Memorial and ends at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. This suddenly tastes very familiar. Oh, yes, it was the time we (I, Igwe, Funmie, and other friends) joined the protest in Washington D.C. for #OccupyNigeria. You know we missed work for that event?

I cannot speak for everyone else, but for me, I felt like I was making a statement and therefore making a difference. But in the end, did I really help? I mean, the awareness and press coverage was fantastic, but did freezing my ass off on the streets of Washington D.C. make a difference? Did I really make life better for at least one single person in Nigeria? I walked the walk and I blogged about the event. I even posted pictures from other walks in other cities, States, and Countries. Do you know what happened with #OccupyNigeria? Well, the protesters in Nigeria had to take a break from protesting to go and eat. The rest is history.

I wish I could say that I was (am) angry at the people in Nigeria, but I wasn’t (still am not). They had to eat. If they did not eat and they died while protesting, then what difference would they have made? But what about the rest of us in foreign nations? Did all our protest make any kind of difference? The only people that would have been willing to protest without going home to eat are people who are willing to die for Nigeria. I can tell you now that I wasn’t (and I’m not now) one of those people.

Now with the case of this #BringBackOurGirls campaign, I am really grateful to the international community for sharing the pictures and bringing more awareness to this issue, but is Boko Haram listening? Are the abductors moved by our social media campaign – complete with a hash tag? Do they even know that the people of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are calling for the release of our girls? If they do know, are they threatened? Are they afraid? Are they even moved?

Americans are ferociously following and promoting this campaign because they don’t know Nigeria. We, Nigerians, we know ourselves. The activists who tweet all day and wish fire and brimstone on our leaders, they are cute and all, but how many Boko Haram members are following them on Twitter — and how many of them are aware of what is going on?

I don’t believe that any number of tweets would move the Boko Haram people and make then return our girls, but maybe against all hope (though I seriously doubt it), the social media campaign will move the leaders. But as I like to ask, na today yansh begin dey back? Our leaders are not there to help us or make our lives better. Everyone just wants a piece of the national cake.

Do you know that there are so many people living in Nigeria who still have no idea that over 200 girls have been abducted? They don’t know because they’re not on social media, and we know that most of Nigeria is poor, so what does that tell you? It tells you that most of Nigeria is out of the loop.  As for the people who are going to be marching in Washington D.C.or in New York (or any other place), I wish you the best of luck. When I find out how many girls my gele will save, then maybe I’ll tie one on my head and appear for the protest.

P.S. On another note, the people who work at the embassy are a bunch of morons, I kid you not. They can barely give you your passport on time, so what can they possibly do about over 200 missing girls?

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  1. says

    Okay, I find this piece interesting. I feel that some are grieved about this situation and feel that protesting might bring about a change even though they do not know how it might but there are some other individuals that make use of situations for selfish purposes. A wicked Nigerian tweeted the stuff to get more twitter followers since it is a trendy topic. So many evil intents.I must say that like in every country there will always be the good and bad.

  2. says

    I haven’t posted about it either, but only because I’m just tired of all the nonsense and nothing is happening. However, I would have to disagree with you about the average Nigerian (masses) not knowing about the missing girls. Social media is not everywhere, but I daresay most people have a radio or access to radio, newspaper. The news would have trickled down to most places in the country, IMHO.

    • Tokunbo says

      Berry, I’d have to disagree with you on that on. The masses in Nigeria get up and about their work as early as 5am and they have more important worries like, “what’s sales ganna be like today, hope I can beat that early morning traffic…” and a bunch of others. We do not have time for papers nor radio…much less the television. I can tell you that news travels better in Nigeria by hear-says. I was at work and a couple of my colleagues were talking about it and all they had to say was, “won ni pe awon Boko Haram tun kidnap awon omo school kan”. They only heard that the Boko Haram clan had kidnapped a couple of students. they didnt even have the details and they all had opinions on it. They were like, “The Government know who these people are, why dont they imprison them”. The masses are ignorant. Most of us dont know shit but some of us actually like to seek for knowledge and learn things we do not know. My point is, we dont need anymore futile protests, we need ideas, heroes, a couple of determined folks, we need a plan. Do we even do undercover work in Nigeria? Scratch that, do we even have an enforcement force in Nigeria?

      • Manny says

        Tokunbo speak for yourself when you say we do not have time for papers nor radio. The masses are actually more current with the news than the overbloated rich ones. So yeah they wake up at 5am to go about their work. Go to a motor park at 5am, they are not listening to fuji, they are listening to radio lagos. They may say it in yoruba but they do say the news. The masses might not be able to afford a newspaper but they do crowd around the paper man and read the headlines, they know what’s happening. Observe, don’t assume.

      • says

        Thank you, Tokunbo. I have family in Nigeria too, and they barely hear what is happening in Nigeria. Only the people who have social media know what’s up. Everyone else will hear after the fact, if they do at all.

    • says

      Berry, you talk like you don’t know Nigeria. Firstly, owning a radio in Nigeria is an extra amenity. Secondly, even if you did, where’s the light to listen. Poor people can barely feed, so buying a newspaper or owning a radio is not an option. Your humble/honest opinion isn’t right. Most of Nigeria is poor.

      • camo says

        Vera u must have been away from Nigeria a very long time cos everything u said is so not true. If your family in Nigeria is not aware of the things happening in Nigeria then they dont care, owning a radio in Nigeria is not an extra amenity, these very cheap chinko phones that sec schl ppl use have in built radios, most ppl that wake up by 5 put on their radios compulsorily esp in lagos to monitor the traffic hence they do listen to news always. When u come back enter the market in your village ask the oldest woman with the least wares for her phone no, she will give you, while she is at it ask her if that phone has a radio, then u will know that a radio is far from being scarce in naija. I am not trying to glorify naija but I can tell you categorically that owning a radio in naija is no big deal. Last sunday all the Churches in Nigeria prayed for these girls. Secondary school students writing WAEC were asked to pray for them, if there is anyone in Naija who has not heard of bokom haram or the nyanya bombings, the person is either deaf or mad *no pun intended* (apart from children) cos even my very little nephew asked me what they were going to do to the girls. Newspaper stands in this country allow you to read papers without paying, as far as you dont touch it. Please my father flew in from the village during easter, he was even more up to date with the political happenings than my social media hopping self. Nigerians are not as ill informed as you think. Our problem is cowardice and greed. The leaders are a reflection of us. Yes I said. If you randomly pick 9 nigerians out of 10 they wont be better than Jonathan. So our problem is not lack of info cos we are very extra informed. Its the corruption that flows in every blood in this country

  3. Lulufa Vongtau says

    In your heart, you want something to be done. It may seem hopless, but when hope is taken away from us, what else do we have. Nigerians are among the best peoples in the world, while our govt may not be the best. A paradox, but if you can figure it out, please educate me. while i can not tell you what to do with your blog, you are a powerful voice in the Nigerian American online community and who knows, you may just catch someone somewheres attention and force govts hand….just my 2 kobo.

    • says

      Lulufa, I agree that Nigerians are one of the best people in the world, and I also admit that my views are biased. I am Nigeria, after all. But the government is a reflection of the people. The average Nigeria, if given a chance to be a leader, would most likely do the same thing. Everyone wants a piece of the national cake. I don’t know the solution, but I know for a fact that this is a problem.

      • hometruth says

        @Vera, I wonder about the claim that Nigerians are among the best people in the world if, in fact, the average Nigerian will turn just as greedy as the current leaders if given the chance. Maybe your claim isn’t literal; just a manner of speaking. No?

  4. says

    Dear Vera,

    Thank you for this blog post.

    I posted a similar article to this on my blog this morning and share your thoughts 100%. and as you said “We, Nigerians, we know ourselves.”

    I don’t know who I’m more upset with, Boko Haram or the Federal Governement.

    I’m tired of endless protests that end in nothing. I’m just tired…and angry

    • says

      Thank you, Victor. You and I share the same sentiments. We can protest from here till Jupiter … the government will not be moved. Considering of this gravity of the situation, why does the government even need to be pressured? Shouldn’t they be sleepless over the kidnap of their citizens?

  5. Lulufa Vongtau says

    how can i delete my initial post? I had meant to write something a bit stronger and this new comment just buttressed my initial instincts were right. I dont agree with your post at all. Vera… we will not stop our armchair activism……just becuase the last ones failed or did not meet up with our expectations…

      • Lulufa Vongtau says

        yes Tokunbo, and i disagree with you too, strongly. I am sure I am right if I say you have been away too long….the average Nigerian is one of the most news craving, if thats correct English in the world. Have you seen mai gads with little transistor radios listening to bbc hausa? The second bomb blast in Abuja last night got to us via Twitter and Facebook, in Kaduna within 30 mins and it was the bartender that broke it…Channels, AIT are among the most watched stations in Nigeria….

    • says

      I’m not saying we should stop our armchair activism. This discourse is proof enough that we are doing all we can to keep talking and hoping someone will do the right thing.

      The issue isn’t really about the missing girls, or Boko Haram. It’s about this happens all the time and we protest, we campaign, we speak out and then nothing happens….every single time.

      I’m not saying don’t campaign or be an activist. I’m saying prepare to be disappointed if nothing happens after it.

      I honestly hope I’m proven wrong and something good comes out of it and the girls are found with Boko Haram crushed but I won’t be sad or disappointed if the governement does nothing after all, they don’t care about us.

      So let’s keep talking, tweeting and shouting. I hope if the time comes when we need to bring the governement down there are enough people around to do it.

      • Lulufa Vongtau says

        I was going to’fight’ you too but I guess you moderated your position. We know what leeaders do in this kind of situations…1..GEJ should visit Chibok, show a form of support 2. Sent up a Chibo Child Abduction Rescue Team 3. Have the CCART issue a highly publicized money reward, something in the region of 100 million… 4 CCART should make noise ..on radio, tv, tweeter, fb, on Veras blog, ……..its not rocket science, we just need to keep talking….

        • says

          I was waiting to be attacked lol

          We’ll keep talking…I’m just tired of talking. You’re probably smarter than some of the people at Aso Rock with your 4 point action plan. I don’t think anyone anywhere has mentioned anything close to this

        • Anozie Ugwumsinachi O. says

          I like the suggestions in your comment and had to post it to Reuben Abati’s Facebook page. Keep talking. Thats all that we can do as civilians. We are not soldiers that will have to go into Sambisa forest to rescue the girls, otherwisewe risk being victims ourselves. Thanks.

    • says

      Lulufa, it’s okay if you continue with your armchair activism. Maybe one day, it will work. As for me, I have no interest. I should not have to become an activist for my government to care about over 200 missing young girls.

      • Lulufa Vongtau says

        I appreciate your position, but i believe that it is this ‘noise’ that has finally gingered the govt into action, setting up a committee 22 days after the girls were abducted. But then again we cant all be Oprah or doctors or lawyers or movie stars, some are astronauts, engineers Fareed Khans and tailors, we complement. Be well i love your writing….but i exit with this…. Your writing should make us all better people whether you blog about rhoa, lipstick or bread. Remember america will know……

  6. says

    Vera, while I understand how you feel about these protests, I don’t agree with the assumption that the protests are futile. I would be the first to argue that they are not as effective, but they do work.

    Imagine if there was no occupy Nigeria protest, gas prices would be way higher than what it is now. Not only that, the government would have gotten away with a lot more than we see/know about now.

    No government wants its people to revolt against them. It brings “unnecessary” attention.

    Any major revolution around the world begins with a protest – that’s what we have as a people, that’s our weapon to speak out. Like they say, a closed mouth cannot be fed.

    Regarding social media, let’s be clear – the tweets, the hastags, facebook posts are not directed at Boko Haram. They are directed at the government, international community, and media. You are right, BH don’t care about the tweets, but the government cares.

    An example is the Edo State “Go and DIe” issue. If not for the backlash on social media, I highly doubt if the governor would do anything to rectify the situation.

    If not for social media, the international media couldn’t be bothered with some 234 girls missing in Nigeria. Almost everyday CNN reports breaking news on MH370 with really no information that has helped figure out what happened to that flight. Yet, it took almost 10 days before they said anything on the missing girls. It took international public figures to tweet about it before it began to get some attention.

    All these effort help put pressure on the Nigerian government to act, even if it means seeking help from other countries.

    As far as people in Nigeria not knowing about what happened, we increase the possibility of everyone knowing when we speak up in whatever capacity – be it online, or through demonstrations.

    Finally, I believe any government that cannot protect and defend it’s citizen has failed woefully in it’s fundamental duties.

    Good write-up, I’m sure there a lots of people that share your sentiments (rightfully so). We are all we have. Let’s not give up, but continue to speak up.

  7. NoGreyAreas says

    Listen: The protests, at the very least, will further raise awareness within & outside the country. Yes, the Nigerian govt is a shame but the BIGGER PROBLEM here is that in addition to their ammunitions, Boko Haram is armed with desperation, extreme violence, a network that facilitates their movement, a solid strategy which I’m sure took them years to plan, and the level of ignorance that would make anyone lay down their life for anything! I’m sure they are ready to fight! Any resistance to their operations would need way more resources (intelligence, arms, & expertise) than Nigeria currently has so yes, these international protests are important. The country needs help.

    And I disagree with the point about social media. Some people don’t use social media and that should make us overlook those who do? Twitter might not reach everyone, but we can’t deny it’s impact so far. Weeks ago, the release of Nigerians who were arrested unjustly was catalyzed by twitter “movements”. Social media helps & for those who can’t get informed via twitter, that’s exactly where the protest comes in.

    Finally, it’s true some efforts have been futile in the past but that doesn’t mean we should give up. I understand your disappointment with the occupyNigeria but I disagree with this post. At this point, we should be doing our bit to help or at least NOT discourage others.

  8. miss k says

    I won’t lie, I’m not the best activist but one thing I know is that if you reason for not doing something is because you don’t think it would work, you’ve done yourself a great disservice. Our job is not to effect macro-change…or even micro-change really but to add a drop in the oceans of time…things won’t change overnight, perhaps not even in our lifetime. We might never live to see the fruits of our labor…and that has to be ok, but to sit back and do nothing because we don’t think anything will happen?? I think that’s the part that gets me the most…we’re not tweeting or facebooking for Boko Haram…their not moved by emotions…if the mothers of those children could not beg those girls free, who are we? We’re the ones to raise awareness…awareness of the devaluation of life in Nigeria.
    I really could ramble on and on, but the last thing I just want to mention is this quote I’d seen hanging in the Holocaust museum at the Smithsonian.

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

  9. Ikedot says

    I disagree with basically every comment/statement made prior to mine.

    I am just like Victor; upset at the country. I stay upset with Nigeria.

    I don’t see how anyone can compare the OccupyNaija movement with 234 human beings who are missing? Doesn’t make sense to me. These are girls all below adult age, who have been reported to be in countries as far as Chad. These girls are being sold into marriage.

    I compare this situation more with the Flight 370 Malaysian flight missing for a couple of weeks now.

    If we or social media or the international community or ANYONE or even GOD has to put “pressure” on the government of “that country” to do something/anything I believe nothing will be done. And if they even “decide” to do something it will be too late.

    All I can say is…….. “haba”.

  10. says

    While I agree with most of your assertions, the protest isnt to get Boko Haram to listen, its to create awareness that some girls are missing. Our government is clearly incompetent and are not strong enough to curb terrorism on their own, but since these pictures and #bringourgirlsback started trending on social media, more people are talking, more organizatiosn are urging action and the U.S and UK are even trying to help Nigeria. I dont even care if the government listens to our protest cus they clearly see the poor on the road when they pass by them in their bullet proof range rovers and they see how bad Nigerian roads are and they see the pain of the nation.. but as far this protest its to show the people of Nigeria that we do care and that just because we live abroad doesnt meant we’re ignorant of what’s going on in our country..

  11. Manny says

    Vera sorry you are wrong on many levels
    Actually those Boko Haram people are not the most pious muslims around and certainly contradict their motto in many ways. They make use of social media, most of the arrested ones had phones (with data plans to boot). Their oga is sufficiently conversant with youtube and the internet to post messages online.
    Also you assume that this campaign is to send a message to Boko Haram. No it is not, it is to put pressure on the federal govt, to make them do what they are supposed to do. How can several girls be abducted and the following day, the president is dancing azonto at a political rally. He is not Boko Haram but he is the commander in chief of the armed forces of Nigeria and we know that he can curb them to an extent if he wants to.
    These guys are blatantly courageous fa. Plus they have people dropping off supplies for them via helicopters. So yes, we know there are some big men behind them and we know it’s all about politics. What the campaign does is put pressure on and embarass the president into stepping up to the challenge. We know that there are people sympathetic to Boko Haram within the top echelons of the military. He needs to set all of them up. He needs to be concerned about this instead of his politcal ambitions.
    That being said, I have not shared on twitter or instagram simply because I’m too embarrassed at this point to be identified with Nigeria. Wallahi, I’m Ghanian henceforth.

  12. says

    It’s sad that you protested once and nothing happened but I also just want to say that the protests and social network activism are not made to touch the hearts of Boko haram. They’re supposed to create awareness. To enable other hands like the United Nations for example take action and maybe it won’t work out, maybe it will but there is no special glory for doing nothing at all or concluding that all efforts will be completely useless all the time.

  13. says

    Did you guys watch Mr. President’s media chat yesterday? He said the #OccupyNigeria movement was sponsored by people who hired comedians and gave pure water and packaged food to the protesters. Now tell me he will take a couple of hashtags on Twitter serious.

    I was at the protests in London and New York and spent hours standing and marching in the cold so nobody should tell me I’m wrong for having an opinion.

    Bottom line is this, they don’t care about your protests or retweets or online campaigns. They are doing a great job in curbing terrorism and we should be proud of them…that’s the message they are telling the world.

    When you guys are ready to storm the Villa and bring about some serious change you can call me. I’ll cheer your hashtags from the sidelines and am so desperately wishing to be proven wrong on this.

  14. kelly says

    I too have not posted about it. This is called the bandwagon effects. People are jumping on it without asking any questions.
    Boko haram for the most part is a faceless enemy. Wjy does the government need awareness to bring back the girls. My heart bleeds about the situation but I know it’s not easy.
    Do we want the girls brought back alive or dead? The later is easy but the former is going to be challenging.
    NNigerian Government doesn’t care about this social media protests. Did you all not listen to Goodluck’s chart?
    Again please people educate yourself and ask why you are doing something bbefore jumping on the bandwagon because bandwagon will not last

    • Lulufa Vongtau says

      is there a way I can stop notifications from this thread before i throw up from the drivel…

      • camo says

        do not puke lulufa, u will not understand the tiredness in our souls, we talk, we talk some of our mates who talked louder are called upon, the proceeds of the national cake is stuffed into their mouths, they taste and they forget, they become deaf and their tune changes, soon discordant songs are heard in our ranks, we sing our songs, it sounds starnge to the ears.. the leaders laugh cos they know we all are like them…Why do u think the Nigerian govt ignore the people?

        • Lulufa Vongtau says

          camo, i wont puek, although for some reason I find your statement patronizing , there is nowhere in the world where these things dont happen, believe me, at last count i have visited some 22 countries and 39 cities, although i ageree we somehow dont carry last in that aspect…on the brighter side, the conversation to bring back our girls is garnering more followers, and the recent actions in respect of the rescue are in response to this…lets not keep talking ..please…

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