The incidence of the mass kidnapping of schoolchildren has become a common re-occurrence in Nigeria. After the infamous Chibok girls’ abduction that brought global headlines, we have witnessed more kidnapping of school children. A young lady who was abducted in an attack on a school in Chibok, has given us something to ponder about because of her bravery in the face of death and torture.
Naomi is a quiet lady who would pass without most people believing she survived a harrowing experience in the deadly Boko Haram camp. She has a timid demeanor that belies a rare strength of character.
She was 24 when Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls from the Chibok Government Secondary School in April 2014. She was the oldest among the schoolgirls, making her easy prey to the sect.
She started school late because of health issues as a child, and that left her in the mockery book of her classmates, who called her Maman Mu, Our Mother. She spent three years with terrorists, but her refusal to get married to one of the terrorists, including refusing to be converted to Islam made her the problem child of the sect.
While the girls were given textbooks to write Islamic verses, Naomi and her friend used the opportunity to write secret diaries. She hid these diaries in a makeshift pouch tied to her leg. The dairies detailed everything that was happening to them in captivity. It was going to be a tell-it-all story of what has happened to them to the world if any of them was lucky to escape.
Naomi and the other girls suffered many hardships. The terrorists moved them always to avoid detection. They spent some time in a town called Gwoza, captured by Boko Haram in late 2014, and spent most of their days as captives in the deadly Sambisa forest.
In the forest, the girls had no water, food, or medical support. They had to soil themselves to clean up during their monthly periods. While the sect was trying to break Naomi to marry one of them, she was not giving in to their demands. They believed that if Naomi gets married to one of them, it becomes easier for the younger ones to follow her step. This insubordination forced the leaders to take her and others to one of the most wanted men alive or dead on earth; Abubakar Shekau.
Shekau revealed that he did not intend to marry them off, but he wanted the government to release his men to him. This revelation gave Naomi and others more reasons to be rebellious. The sect separated Naomi and others from the weak girls. These weak girls were deprived of food to force them to get married. Naomi and her stubborn friends started smuggling food to them to survive.
They started singing hymns in front of the terrorists, initially inaudibly and later, loudly because most of the captives were Christians. Luck shined upon them when Naomi and 81 other girls were released in 2017.
This inspring lady gives many young African women reasons to dare for more, and be bold in the face of oppression. Her courage and bravery should be emulated by many.