More than two years ago, I was handed a slip of paper with the name “Nguba Buba” on it.
Nguba Buba. Remember her name, please.
Nguba Buba was one of the 276 girls kidnapped on 14 April 2014 by Boko Haram militants who stormed her school in Chibok, Nigeria. She was a young girl, a 16-year-old who attended church and loved Jesus. When she was kidnapped, she was ripped away from her studies, her potential to take her exams, and to go to college.
Nguba is one of more than 2,000 children stolen from their parents by Islamic militants since 2014. Many of the boys were armed and forced to shoot people, some from their own villages. Those who refuse were killed. The girls were forced to convert to Islam, compelled to become servants, used as prostitutes, and married off to their captors; often, men old enough to be their fathers.
Nguba was forced at gunpoint to get onto a truck in the middle of the night. They drove for hours into the Sambisa Forest under the cover of darkness. During the ride, around 50 of the girls managed to jump off and escape.
The 219 remaining stayed in Boko Haram custody. Many were advocating on their behalf and the campaign #BringBackOurGirls attracted huge amounts of attention. The government negotiated for their return, with no results.
As time passed, fewer and fewer people remembered Nguba and her friends.
Their grieving parents began succumbing to stress-related illnesses. At least 18 died of these illnesses. Another three died in Islamist attacks. In 2015, Boko Haram would use 44 stolen children as suicide bombers, many of them young girls like Nguba.
In May 2016, one of the 219 was discovered. After escaping, she arrived at home with a 4-month-old baby, the child of a Boko Haram fighter.
On 13 October, parents and relatives finally had something to celebrate. Negotiations had finally been successful, and 21 of the girls were freed. Nguba was not among them. No one really knows her fate. There are 114 Chibok girls who are unaccounted for. Some are believed to have been killed. Others may wish to stay with their abductors.
Please remember Nguba’s name. Remember that she was once a schoolgirl who planned to finish her exams at Chibok. She was a Christian. She had parents and siblings and a hope for the future that was stolen. Remember that she and each of the other 2,000 other children who were stolen still need your prayers.
The names of the 21 girls who have been released thus far:
- Mary Usman Bulama
- Jummai John
- Blessing Abana
- Luggwa Sanda
- Comfort Habila
- Maryam Basheer
- Comfort Amos
- Glory Mainta
- Saratu Emmanuel
- Deborah Ja’afaru
- Rahab Ibrahim
- Helin Musa
- Mayamu Lawan
- Rebecca Ibrahim
- Asabe Goni
- Deborah Andrawus
- Agnes Gapani
- Saratu Markus
- Glory Dama
- Pindah Nuhu
- Rebecca Mallam
Ann Kay writes for VOM USA.