For the first time in the nearly three years history of this magazine, we decided to do something different.
The last 23 editions have been interviews with individuals, mostly influential office holders, heads of state and governments – and yes, on one occasion two years ago, a collection of experts to peer into what the New Year had in stock.
In this edition, we’re doing something different. After the kidnap of 110 girls of the Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi, we decided that nothing was more important than sharing their grief – and helping to keep the matter from slipping through our numerous national cracks.
So, off we went to Dapchi. On three different occasions over three weeks, each occasion lasting the whole day, we dispatched our correspondent to Dapchi where he interviewed a wide range of people in the community.
We spoke with parents, students, community leaders and persons who live not too far from the school.
Although life appears to have returned to normal in Dapchi, there’s a deep sense of grief beneath the fragile calm. One resident put it this way: “Dapchi is half-dead. There’s no house you’ll enter into in this community where you will not hear that one of their daughters is missing. We’re half-dead.”
Yet, in spite of the sense of communal loss, as Leo Tolstoy wrote in Ana Karenina, each family is feeling the loss in its own peculiar way.
Malam Bashir Manzo, whose 14-year-old daughter in JSS3, Fatima, was abducted, said his daughter wanted to become a nurse to help women in the community; Abdullahi Kawi, who stoned the state governor in anger, said each time one of his daughters asks about the whereabouts of her kidnapped sibling, he feels like crying.
Rakiya Adamu, a JSS2 student who managed to escape, said the memory of her missing friends keeps haunting her.
We visited Dapchi twice before Buhari’s visit and once after.
The message was loud and clear: No more stories. We want our daughters safely back – and quickly.
It will take one who has eaten the head of the proverbial tortoise to read this edition and not be moved.
Stop press: Just as we were going to press, we received the news that Boko Haram had returned most of the girls to Dapchi, almost the same way they abducted them. We stopped production and rushed our correspondent off again to Dapchi – for the fourth time – to bring you up-to-date interviews with a few of the parents.
The account is breath taking!