News / Africa

Malala in Nigeria Sees Schoolgirls as Her 'Sisters'

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot by the Taliban because she advocated education for girls, holds a picture of kidnapped schoolgirl Sarah Samuel with her mother Rebecca Samuel, while visiting Abuja, Nigeria, July 13, 2014.
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot by the Taliban because she advocated education for girls, holds a picture of kidnapped schoolgirl Sarah Samuel with her mother Rebecca Samuel, while visiting Abuja, Nigeria, July 13, 2014.
VOA News

Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, met on Sunday with the relatives of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

She pledged to help free the girls abducted by the Islamist militants.

Malala, 16, met with parents of the more than 200 girls who were kidnapped from a school in the northeastern village of Chibok in April.

Abuja, NigeriaAbuja, Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria

Boko Haram, a Taliban-inspired movement, say they are fighting to establish an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria.

The group, whose name means “Western education is sinful," has killed thousands and abducted hundreds since launching an uprising in 2009.

Emotional meeting

Some of the parents broke down into tears as Malala spoke at a hotel in the capital Abuja on Sunday.

“I can see those girls as my sisters ... and I'm going to speak up for them until they are released,” said Malala, who celebrates her 17th birthday Monday in Nigeria, where she is scheduled to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan.

“I'm going to participate actively in the 'bring back our girls' campaign to make sure that they return safely and they continue their education.”

The girls' abduction drew unprecedented international attention to the war in Nigeria's northeast and the growing security risk that Boko Haram poses to Nigeria, Africa's leading energy producer.

A #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign supported by Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie heaped pressure on authorities to act, and Jonathan pledged to save the girls, drawing promises of Western help to do so.

But several weeks on, the hostages have not yet been freed and media interest has waned.

Bomb plot uncovered

Boko Haram, now considered as the main security threat to Nigeria, is growing bolder.

Police said on Saturday they uncovered a plot to bomb the Abuja transport network using suicide bombers and devices concealed in luggage at major bus stations.

While meeting with the girls' parents, Malala said she could "feel ... the circumstances under which you are suffering. It's quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger. My birthday wish this year is.. bring back our girls now and alive.”

Taliban militants shot Malala in October 2012 for her outspoken views on women's right to education.

She survived after being airlifted to Britain for treatment and has since become a symbol of defiance against militants operating in the tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

She has won the European Union's prestigious human rights award and was one of the favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize last year, although the award ended up going to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.    

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 14, 2014 7:34 AM
It's good that Malala was here and encouraged our girls not to be discouraged by the tribulation they are facing in the hands of extremist vultures in the country who want to reverse the gains of civilization and return it to the stone age servitude. While I remember my good will toward her when she faced her own ordeal and now she's fine, I expect that her lesson to the religion that sees nothing good in girl child education and civilization would be to show her back to it. Nothing will hurt that religion more than anything and expose it to what it deserves than high profile defection. We out here are waiting when that will happen.

The Nigerian case, as in every order place where the extremist Islamists approach the desire for sustainability with hideous terrorist killing, maiming and forced conversion, it has been one reason behind it - the fear that the population is falling - people leaving the religion when they become enlightened after receiving western education. If the people had turned their back on it (especially high profile ones like Malala or any other notable figure) because of its barbaric, uncivilized approach, then they would have had a change of mind, and perhaps abandon that subjective approach and find a better refined approach to making converts.

That near-masquerade attire still encourages the beasts to think people still remain in the faith because of their brutish threat. That is wrong. Malala should please show a better example than continue to project a religion that has offered nothing but grief and discord to humanity.
In Response

by: Dr. Olapade Agoro from: Ibadan Nigeria
July 15, 2014 3:52 PM
It is rather a bizarre and condemnable absurdity the not well researched and not well considered statement made at the nation’s seat of power by President Goodluck Jonathan to Miss Malala Yousafzai the 17 year old Pakistani Girl child education campaigner Monday July 14 2014 that “he can guarantee that all the girls that have been kidnapped, including the ones that escaped will be given scholarship to go to school in other parts of the country”
In what looked clearly the shame of a nation and ugly side of leadership failings was the young Malala’s visit embarrassingly drawing and luring Mr. President’s snail out its shell coming out for the first time in three months with his government’s policy statement on the abducted girls among which was the pledge of scholarship and as well readiness to meet with parents of the abducted girls. Mr. President phase out promise was uninterestingly made after Malala accompanied by her father and members of her Foundation had courageously visited the abducted girls’ parents at Chibok the epicenter of the gory event. Why for God’s sake did President Jonathan we all love have to wait this long to make his mind up visiting or at least inviting to the presidency the parents and families of abducted girls. This would have gone a long way soothing the jaded nerves of not only the abducted girls parents, Nigeria as a nation and the whole universe at large. As it ever occurred to Mr. President’s that the promise made by him to give scholarships to the abducted girls ‘after they might have regained their freedom’ would the more have enraged Boko Haram leadership and membership whose main grouse is against western education perse. Take it or leave it, the pledge made without hindsight of good reasoning would no doubt have further endangered the lives and of the poor girls in the devil’s camp.
What also Goodluck Jonathan failed to realize is the fact that he can only give scholarships to the girls if at all they are found as fit and normal as they were before they were abducted. This none of us outside Boko harm confines could reasonably guarantee now. The painful situational imperatives we however must face now as a nation and peoples is that since it will be almost impossible goats trapped in the den of loins are found coming out without painful scratches, we may never find all the abducted girls together looking good the way they were before they were stolen by the wicked beasts called Boko Haram the enemies of peace and humanity.
Dr. Olapade Agoro (Aladura Patriarch) Owa’Tapa of Itapa Ijesa land, National Chairman/former Presidential Candidate, National Action Council (NAC)

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
July 13, 2014 11:45 AM
A welcome move, coming after 90days.

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