It started as a sign of support for Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist rebel group Boko Haram, but Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has turned into a global social media campaign.
Last month, it was reported that Boko Haram — whose name means ‘Western education is evil — kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from their secondary school in Chibok, a town in northeastern Nigeria.
According to reports, only 43 girls managed to escape, but are still missing.
And earlier this week, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and threatened to sell the girls “on the market”.
It has also been reported that another eight girls have been seized by suspected members of Boko Haram in a village in the northeastern area where the 200 schoolgirls were previously kidnapped from.
Critics started to allege that not enough attention was being paid by the world’s media to the tragic kidnapping.
So, activists starting taking to Twitter as the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls served to vent the world’s anger at the situation.
Subsequently, Nigeria’s government has been harshly criticised for failing to rescue the girls, as the Twitter hashtag gained global prominence.
But on Thursday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan addressed the World Economic Freedom (WEF) in Abuja where he vowed to rescue the girls, following sustained global focus on the Boko Haram kidnapping.
“As a nation we are facing attack from terrorism,” Jonathan said.
He added, “I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terrorism in Nigeria.”
Since the kidnapping various efforts have been made to try locate the girls with foreign nations such as the United States, Britain, and China showing their support in trying to rescue the girls.
Reuters reported that France was the latest nation to offer help on Wednesday, saying “it was boosting intelligence ties with Nigeria and sending security service agents there to tackle Boko Haram”.
But amid all this global political support, it has still been the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign that has put the spotlight on the tragedy.
World leaders and celebrities alike have taken to social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to protest and demand that the girls be returned back home safely.
On Thursday, US first lady Michelle Obama took to Twitter and posted a picture of herself holding a poster with the words “#BringBackOurGirls”.
“Our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families. It’s time to #BringBackOurGirls. -mo,” a tweet from her read.
Outspoken British media personality Piers Morgan also tweeted saying, “If 200+ young girls had been kidnapped in Europe/America, the world would have acted by now. Get in there and get them. #BringBackOurGirls.”
Meanwhile, in Johannesburg, South African activist groups and civil society marched to the Nigerian Consulate on Thursday to hand over a memorandum, demanding action.
Another march has been organised to take place on Saturday morning in Johannesburg as a sign of protest to bring back the girls.
And while the topic may have drifted off the top trending Twitter hashtags in Nigeria on Friday, global attention on #BringBackOurGirls looks set to continue keeping up the pressure to find the girls.
Credit: ITWeb Africa