John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Boko Haram Kidnapping Protests Go Viral

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
May 8, 2014

Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington May 6, 2014. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)


This is a guest post by Allen Grane, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is currently an officer in the Army National Guard. His interests are in Africa, conflict, and conflict resolution.

Recently we have seen a great amount of social awareness and dissent among Nigerian’s regarding how the government has handled the conflict with Boko Haram. The impetus for this reaction has been the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from four towns in Borno State: Izge, Lassa, Ashigashiya and Warabe. Within Nigeria there have now been protests in KadunaAbuja, and as far south as Lagos. Through the use of social media these protests have now spread across the world to include Washington and New York City.

On May 3, activists in New York City organized an event in Manhattan’s Union Square Park around the viral social media tag #bringbackourgirls. The event had a turnout of an estimated 300 people. The goal of these people was to bring awareness of the issues facing the Nigerian people to the U.S. public.

Interestingly, the protest in New York took on a Pan-African dimension. The New York City organizers identified themselves as South African and Zimbabwean. Many of the people in attendance were from other African nations. They all stressed that they empathized with the Nigerian people as fellow Africans and that they stood with them in support to chants of “we support all Africans.” The protesters questioned the actions of Boko Haram and the Nigerian government, but also why there has been a lack of western media coverage and concern.

In the past social media campaigns have successfully raised awareness and caught the attention of governments. It appears that the current social media campaign and protests in and outside of Nigeria have succeeded in pressuring the Nigerian government and drawing the attention of foreign powers. The Nigerian government has asked for international help and the White House has announced that it will be sending advisors to help the Nigerian government. China along with France, Canada, and the United Kingdom have also pledged their support to help the Nigerian government in its efforts to find and rescue the kidnapped girls. Hopefully, this international involvement can help turn this situation around.

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  • Posted by Charles Emejulu

    The global outcry over the abduction of Chibok school girls has demonstrated that there is actually, after all a civil society in Nigeria that can transcend the ethnic-religion cleavage to mobilise itself both locally and globally and force the central government in Abuja to behave itself. Thanks to the social networks and the fact that over the past 15 years telecom industry has been booming.

    Literally, Nigeria is at a crossroad today.

    As nations are scrambling to help Nigeria rescue the abducted Chibok school girls, the global business and economic community has converged to Abuja to attend the World Economic Forum on Africa.
    Ten years from today, what impact will these two events have on Nigeria as a nation that must be?
    Which way Nigeria?

    Will Nigeria go the way of Russia ten years after Beslan school hostage crisis in the North Ossetia Republic and the Russian government crackdown on the civil society and business community in Russia; which produced the Russia of today?

    Or will Nigeria follow a path to become a global partner in social and economic development, such as India, Brazil, Indonesia or even China in certain aspects?

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