Tuesday, May 24, 2016 7:07 am
By Grace Essen
It was a beautiful day like any other, nothing suggested something unexpected was going to happen until there was a knock on the door. A man was standing right at the entrance to the house of one Chibok mum, he possibly didn’t look familiar when she opened. Then he asked her to come out and identify someone. How could she ever guess who was standing outside. “Amina! Amina!!” She shouted giving the girl the biggest hug ever, they almost rolled on the floor but for the men of the task force who helped stabilize them. It was her daughter who had been missing the past two years and she had prayed earnestly would return someday.
The mum in an excitement that was difficult to contain ran off calling out relatives to come and witness what was happening. I can imagine that her wrapper could have fallen off her waist and she wouldn’t be bothered – the joy of a mum who had known nothing but agony the past two years. When she could no longer control her emotions, she broke down. Amina was said to have comforted her saying, “Please mum, take it easy, relax, I never thought I would ever see you again, wipe your tears. God has made it possible for us to see each other again.”
April 14, 2014 turned out to be the darkest day for members of Chibok community when Boko Haram terrorists seized 276 students who were in school for the senior secondary school certificate exam from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok one night. Fifty-seven girls managed to escape in the immediate aftermath. Nothing had been heard from the 219 still held captive after a video was published by Boko Haram in May 2014.
The entire nation was thrown into jubilation when news broke that Amina, one of the over 200 school girls had been rescued. Reports say she was rescued with a 4 month old baby alongside a Boko Haram member who claimed to be her ‘husband’.
I watched on TV when Amina accompanied by her mother and brother met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja after her rescue, I tried really hard to hold back tears from my eyes. What a sweet relief it would be for Amina, her family, the Chibok community, Nigeria and the world over. Thereafter we heard the news of the rescue of the second girl, Serah Luka from the northeastern town of Madagali, in the state of Adamawa, which borders Borno.
As with most incidences in life, the rescue of the girls has had its share of controversies, political debates and all of that. Social media has since after the rescue been awash with questions and arguments on the authenticity of the ‘Chibok girls’ especially Serah Luka who was reported to have said she was a JS1 student at the time of the abduction when only SS3 students were supposed to be in school.
Amina having to meet the president and being paraded in the media has been faulted by some persons who think the girl should be getting some rest and medical attention. Also the media has come under fire for describing the Boko Haram member who was rescued alongside Amina as her ‘husband’.
While some of these criticisms make sense, we must not stray from the main thing – the fact that the girls and many others who have been in captivity for so long have returned safe. It is something to celebrate. Yes, a larger number of the girls are still missing and according to Amina some of them have lost their lives. Sad as the news of their death may be, it will only help put to rest the trauma of the parents of the girls who had been waiting earnestly for the return that would never be. There is a saying that one who is dead is better that one who is lost. At least one can point to the grave of the dead, but for the lost there is no peace of mind. So while we await the safe return of the remaining girls and every other person taken captive by the terrorists, we will celebrate the rescue of these two, whether they are both ‘Chibok girls’ or not.
I salute the courage of the officers and local vigilante groups who worked tirelessly to rescue the girls and many others, the conveyers and members of BBOG who continued to speak up on behalf of the girls and their families even after the zeal of most people had gone cold. They continued their sit outs despite that their numbers reduced drastically, and many made caricature of them. Same goes to the media for bringing the issue of the missing girls to the fore and reminding us the girls are still out there, and also to Nigerians who have not relented in their prayers for the girls and their families. We are indeed grateful to God and we pray that the remaining girls would be found and rescued the same way Amina and Serah were found and reunited with their families, and then we all can heave a big sigh of relief.
You may reach Grace via email: [email protected] You can also connect with her on twitter @GraceEssen, on Facebook, and also follow her blog @Mum2MumAfrica.com.