Local Nigerian community outraged over abductions in homeland

WICHITA, Kansas - The outrage over the reported abduction of more than 200 young girls by a terrorist group in Nigeria has reached global proportions, even here in Wichita.

“The world has the technology to find those girls,” Chinyere Okafor, a women’s studies and English professor at Wichita State, said. “I don’t think of it as a Nigerian affair. I think of it as a human affair.”

Okafor is originally from Nigeria, and she has been deeply affected by the events.

There’s also a proud community of Nigerian students at WSU, who are angry about this attack and hoping the international community can help.

“Even if you’re angry with Westernization, how does kidnapping these girls and subjecting them to such terrors do anything for your cause?” Olabisi Pinheiro, a junior at WSU who is president of the Nigerian Student Association, said. “Why would you do that?”

Pinheiro’s family lives in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. It is far from the Nigerian state of Borno where the abductions took place, but she still worries for her family’s safety.

“I don’t feel safe for them, and I wish things could get better because Nigeria’s an amazing country, we just have safety issues and just so many things going on there that could be easily solved,” Pinheiro said.

Okafor says she worries for the children who may be intimidated to go to school and better their lives, and the incident marks a shift from when she was a child growing up in Nigeria.

“I want kids to experience the kind of life I had when I was young, but kids with that kind of insecurity, kids cannot experience what I experienced,” she said. “They can only hear about it and it would be like a folk tale.”

The Nigerian Student Association is organizing a solidarity march set for Thursday at noon, to start at the Rhatigan student center at WSU. Participants are asked to wear red in solidarity with the victims.

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