Telling My Baby About Chibok

We lay on the bed, in the semi-darkness listening to neighbouring generators assault the night with their discordant droning. We had just finished a session of mock tests on Verbal Reasoning and Simple Maths. Examinations were two days away and we had a lot to revise before we could claim to be ready. The past sixty minutes had been spent on word sums and codes before The Power Holders struck. In the silence that followed, I cradled my Blackberry and scrolled through my Twitter TL, I didn’t notice her searching eyes following every movement on my phone’s screen.

“Why are you doing that? Scrolling up and down so fast without reading anything?” She asked me.

“I am reading. I read a little faster than you do but I am not just racing past. Besides I have read some of this before.” I answered, sensing there was more to come and considering dropping the phone before someone decided to post a nude selfie on the TL.

“Wait! What is that? Why is a frog drinking tea? Do frogs drink tea?” She asked, her face buckled in a frown.

“Uuuh it is a puppet. Kermit. Like the one I put my hands in when I am pretending to be a Tiger.”

“Oh. Wait. What is #BringBackOur Girls ?”

Somewhere inside me I began to wonder what other things my inquisitive 6 year old had read. And to kick myself for not pocketing the phone while I could.

“It is a campaign. A call to action. Some people stole some girls about 3 months ago. #BringBackOurGirls is a call for them to be rescued.”

“Stole? Who stole them? Boko Haram?”

I sat up and looked at her in surprise. “Who told you about Boko Haram?”

“I dunno,” she shrugged, “radio or TV or something.”

“Hmm. Well, yes, so they went to a school and took away girls in the middle of the night.”

“Oh no!” She said, her eyes as wide as saucers. “But how could that happen? Where were their teachers?”

” Their teachers were away.”

“Away?” She asked raising her eyebrows.” How did Boko Haram know the girls were there?”

“It looks like they were informed by some school staff. The Police and the Army are looking into it.”

“How many of them were stolen?

“234.”

“Two hundred and thirty-four! Oh men! That’s so bad.”

“Yes it is.”

“I saw a girl carrying a banner on Aunty Christy’s phone, it said Our Girls Are Not For Sale…”

She snuggled closer and her voice became smaller. “I am scared,” she said.

“It is OK, dear. Don’t be scared. No harm can come to you. You are safe here.”

I wrapped my arms around her and I told her we would protect her. I told her God was with her. I told her everything would be fine.

Then I closed my eyes and clenched my fists willing myself to believe my words.

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