Kansans Rally To Bring Back Missing Nigerian Girls


TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Protests and outrage have erupted throughout the world in response to the kidnapping of almost 300 Nigerian school girls by an Islamic militant group.

Local protesters tell 13 News they hope their efforts bring the girls back home, and end terror.

The response around the world is powerful and loud.

And in Lawrence, protesters joined the worldwide movement urging Nigerian leaders to find the almost 300 missing school girls who were kidnapped in their sleep last month by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

"They could not care less."

Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka teaches gender and sexuality studies at the University of Kansas, but was born, raised and received almost all her schooling in Nigeria.

"I left for political reasons but that does not mean I'm not invested in Nigeria," she said, "so when this happened, it's a huge setback for girls education. In general, and in Chibok."

The leader of Boko Haram recently announced he would sell the girls into slavery, and in a newly released video, said he would free the girls in exchange the Nigerian government release Boko Haram prisoners.

"Generally Boko Haram has been translated as 'book is forbidden,' which means knowledge is forbidden. They do not stand for anything. They describe themselves as pro-Islam. Islam is not anti-knowledge."

The Nigerian government has been criticized for not taking action sooner, as the girls' parents wonder where their children have been for the last 4 weeks.

"I cannot imagine any mother going through that experience, no idea where their children are. They sent these girls to go get educated and what happens. They are abducted. Turned into sex slaves. Being sold into slavery. What kind of world is that?"

Supporters say that joining voices with Nigerians at home and abroad is the only way to create a sense of urgency in the Nigerian government.

Kathryn Rhine is an assistant Anthropology professor at KU and recently returned from Nigeria. She thinks finally the entire country is feeling outrage and sadness for what is happening, and that the reason why Nigerian leaders did not react sooner is political.

"I think it's really fantastic to see even a small town in Lawrence rally for such an important issue," she said. "There's so many people who have important family ties and academic ties to Nigeria."

Another rally supporter, Beverly Mack, said people need to be aware that what is happening is another form of criminality.

"We have to be activists, we have to lend our voices to these types of things. We can't sit and let evil take over the world."

Omofolabo said she is grateful that so many people have shown they care and are standing up for the missing girls.

"This is important because you educate a girl, you educate a nation, you educate the world."

The United States, Britain, France and China have ramped-up efforts to help the Nigerian government find and rescue the girls.


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