The Man Behind #BringBackOurGirls Is A Nigerian Lawyer Who Wanted To Alert The World About Missing Schoolgirls

May 12, 2014  |  

The First Lady of The United States, Michelle Obama, was recently photographed with a sign declaring #BringBackOurGirls. As have numerous other celebrities, in reference to the demand for the release of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram rebels.

The person behind the hashtag campaign is a Nigerian lawyer who started the viral campaign who says he is humbled and overwhelmed by the unprecedented response.

“It’s gratifying that because of the popularity of the hashtag the whole world has an interest in the abduction of the girls,” said Ibrahim M Abdullahi, a managing partner at an Abuja-based law firm.

The hashtag has created a social media movement following a televised talk by Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, vice-president of the World Bank for Africa, reports The Grio. It was during Ezekwesili’s speech at a UNESCO event that she used the expression “Bring Back Our Daughters.”

#BringBackOurGirls has been tweeted nearly two million times. According to Vivia Armstrong, an Atlanta-based social media strategist, the mass popularity #BringBackOurGirls hashtag is a defining moment for social media.

“I haven’t seen anything like this on a worldwide scale aside from the Middle East uprisings,” says Armstrong. “People have short attention spans, but when they see these powerful images, it strikes a chord. It brings awareness that posts can spark change.”

“I am happy that the world is aware of the situation and the atrocities being committed by Boko Haram,” said Abdullahi. “The involvement of the international community is also putting pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to live up to his responsibilities.”

There has been some controversy surrounding the hashtag. L.A.-based filmmaker Ramaa Mosley initially took credit for the hashtag.

But Abdullahi says his focus in on the girls. “I will have greater joy when these girls are rescued.”

Ann Coulter and her conservative cohorts also raised a stink about this sort of “hacktivism,” with Coulter tweeting a picture of herself with a sad face and a sign that reads #BringBackOurCountry. The internet took it from there.

The conservative argument is that posting tweets about an issue does nothing to solve it. But some have argued that it actually does more harm than good. A writer on the site Compare Afrique says this “hacktivism” encourages another form of imperialism.

“Here’s the thing though, when you pressure Western powers, particularly the American government to get involved in African affairs  and when you champion military intervention, you become part of a much larger problem. You become a complicit participant in a military expansionist agenda on the continent of Africa. This is not good,” the site says, emphasis theirs.

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