The advocate and her letter -By Sesugh Akume
23 July 2015
8-year-old Hauwa Abubakar Yusuf is a #ChibokGirls Ambassador. She along with her dad, Abubakar Yusuf (@AYMalumfashi), her mum, brother and infant sister are all #BringBackOurGirls advocates. And have been from the beginning.
Young Hauwa cares and is very concerned about the missing 219 Chibok schoolgirls abducted in their school by terrorists on the night of Monday 14 April 2014. She wears her #ChibokGirls Ambassadors badges, to create awareness that they are crying to be rescued, and are never to be forgotten. As often as she can, she participates in the daily sit-outs held at the Unity Fountain, Abuja. As part of her participation, she writes and reads out poems expressing her feelings and thoughts about the abduction, calling on the government to rescue and bring back our girls.
Last year October, as part of the activities marking the Global Week of Action to commemorate 200 days of the abduction, the #BringBackOurGirls movement sought for an engagement with the Nigerian president. So she wrote a letter to be given to him on her behalf, because school was in session she couldn’t be part of the march to the president. In it, she requested the president to please do anything he could to bring back our girls as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the government sent truck loads of antiriot policewomen reinforced by more truck loads of armed soldiers to set a blockade close to the presidential villa preventing the advocates from proceeding with the march to meet the president. For this reason sadly, the letter couldn’t be delivered to the president, but to his hostile representatives. Whether it was passed on to him or not is what remains to be known. This must’ve been the saddest part of that experience — that even children weren’t immune to the government’s hostility towards citizens, and wouldn’t listen to the cry of a young child pleading for the rescue of other innocent schoolgirls.
In April this year during the Global Week of Action to commemorate 1 full year of abduction, she wrote another one. This time to Nigerian parents, specifically to the Chibok parents.
On May 29 however, a new Nigerian president was sworn in, who promised during his inaugural speech to do whatever he can to ensure that our Chibok schoolgirls are rescued and brought back alive, as soon as possible. On 10 June, the #BringBackOurGirls movement wrote to the president requesting to meet with him, as it had done previously. It can only be imagined how excited she was when on 30 June the president agreed with the movement on 8 July at the presidential villa at 12 noon. So she wrote yet another letter to the president.
On that day, Miss Hauwa Abubakar Yusuf it was who led the #BringBackOurGirls march to engage with the president at the State House. During the meeting which lasted for 62 minutes, various people spoke including 2 mothers of our missing girls. After the president responded, the meeting came to an end; all rose for the national anthem. One little thing though, the letters hadn’t been delivered. So she got up from where she sat and walked to the front but was prevented by the presidential bodyguards. First, because their duty is not only to protect the president, but to ensure that there is order around him. Second, because the national anthem was about to be sung. Good citizens don’t keep moving when the national anthem is being sung. But the president had seen her and was curious about the courageous young woman approaching him.
After the anthem and the #BringBackOurGirls solidarity chants, the bold Hauwa stepped forward to accept the handshake the president offered, and then personally handed both letters to him, and attached the 2 previous ones. This must’ve been the climax of that engagement with the president.
For about 2 weeks no word was heard from the president after the meeting until 2 days ago, on Tuesday when the president reaffirmed on a CNN interview with Christine Amanpour that the rescue and safe return of the Chibok girls is a top priority of his government. That he is working hard to have them back to the loving arms of their parents, so that they may return to school, and live a normal life. She was overjoyed when her dad told her what the president had said on TV.
Today is 465 days, that is 1 year plus 100 days since our Chibok girls were abducted. 450 days of daily citizens’ advocacy for their rescue, safe return and an end terrorist insurgency. It’s also 56 days since it has been President Muhammadu Buhari and his government’s responsibility to rescue them.
Sesugh Akume (@sesugh_akume on Twitter) a #BringBackOurGirls member and spokesperson wrote from Abuja