Exactly seven days before Valentine’s Day, central Manchester was occupied by activists marching in solidarity with the victims of Boko Haram’s heinous January attacks. Not only did the vigil – organised by self-funded collective African Rainbow Family (ARF) – condemn the attacks, but it raised the alarm against the lack of mainstream media coverage. With people from various backgrounds, ethnicities, ages and faiths, up to 60 activists gathered in Piccadilly Gardens, having walked from St Peters Square via Market Street where the march commenced.
Echoing the reverberation of the megaphone’s “I Am Baga Too” and “Black Lives Matter Too”, the protesters peacefully marched with lit candles and placards denoting the value of all human life, regardless of background or social standing.
Despite the outbreak of news interest in the initial kidnappings of 200 schoolgirls in March 2014 – including a social media hashtag campaign that even Michelle Obama took part in – little-to-no light has been shone over Boko Haram’s further spate of abductions of women and recent bombing of an estimated 2,000 civilian lives.
The rally’s aim was to raise awareness of those neglected by mainstream media and to provoke “a national debate with western and African leaders” driven towards active change rather than lip-service, founder of ARF Aderonke Apata told TNT.
RF is the group behind last December’s march along Portland Street, Manchester. The convention saw hundreds of activists protesting against institutionalised injustices such as that which happened to the late Mike Brown from Ferguson, Missouri USA.
“Going forward, we want to see more communication between activist groups and volunteers. We want to connect with each other as we are more powerful together. Ultimately we want community voices to be heard,” one of the co-organisers said.
Terrorist militant group, Boko Haram, has taken over the Baga town of north-east Nigeria. It continues its monstrous crimes against thousands of innocent women and children. Activists feel there is no other option but to take to the streets in protest, rather than mirror the meek and passive reaction of mainstream media. The next public meeting has been provisionally booked according to ARF group; however, the date will be confirmed soon. In the meantime, we should all continue to let the appalling silence burst away from us. More details of the news coverage of the vigil can be found here.