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naiga girls: what we can do by verta ayanna

on may 2, 2014, shahara jackson, led one of the first #bringbackourgirls rallies in new york city. when we talked about it she told me, “i don’t want to be just existing. i wanted to do something. if i can share my passion and outrage for what has happened with just ten people that’s enough.” i decided if there were to be only ten people at her rally, i would be one of them.

i went armed with my camera. i have come to know and embrace that capturing stories is one of the ways i take action.  when i arrived, the energy was warm but tentative, almost reserved. slowly, more women and men arrived. the energy shifted, more purpose filled the air. at 1:30 a young activist spoke. her father was nigerian. her name is africa yoon. she held a people magazine with lupita nyongo on the cover in one hand; a bring back our girls sign in the other. she thanked us for coming. she spoke of naiga girls. naiga, a term of endearment in Nigeria. we used naiga to lovingly represent each of the 234 kidnapped girls who had yet to return. whose names we did not know. we used naiga because we wanted each girl to know that she was more than just a number.  when africa yoon called naiga girl out, we all responded “present!” just as the roll call at school may have gone that april 14, 2014 morning for each of our still captive naiga girls. it is my hope that each time i chanted “present!” the universe let each girl now that my heart was with her. that she felt a glimmer of inexplicable hope during an incomprehensible time. it is my hope that my actions, however small, will do something to bring each one of these girls home.

i despise empty gestures and lack of action even more so here are some things you can do:

 

  1. learn more. this is not the first brutal or atrocious act of boko haram. they must be stopped.
  2. sign this petition to bring voice to this story.
  3. tell 10 people you know about this atrocity. ask them to tell 10 people they know.  here are some other things you can do.
  4. read about the president for Nigeria that Chimamanda Adichie wants in response to this atrocity.
  5. listen to Shahara (4:17) talk about why she decided to organize a #bringbackourgirls rally and be inspired by what one person can do.
  6. act. not just for these naiga girls. act whenever and wherever you bear witness to injustice. act in any way you can and know how.

 

on may 2, 2014, in honor of each abducted girl still to be brought back we chanted …

 

naiga girl 1 … present!

naiga girl 2 … present!

naiga girl 3 … present!

naiga girl 4 … present!

naiga girl 5 … present!

naiga girl 6 … present!

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