April 14 brings back bottled-up pains and emotions of the past two years to the residents of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. It reminds them of the ghastly night that changed their lives when Boko Haram militants descended on their girls in a government school.
Over 200 girls when sleeping in their dormitories at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok were kidnapped. While about 57 girls were able to escape from the militia making their way back to their parents, 219 girls are still out in the wild.
Parents, family friends, Nigerians and the rest of the world are waiting and hoping for the safe return of the remaining girls.
While they wait, pleading with the government to speed up the search, a video apparently filmed last December 25, has emerged showing some of the girls in captivity.
Footage shows ‘proof of life’
The video footage was sent to the Nigerian government as part of a negotiation between the state and Boko Haram as ‘proof of life’.
This is the first footage of the girls to be seen since May 2014 when the captors released a video showing the abducted girls having been converted to Islam. Most of those kidnapped were Christians.
For the first time, the parents were shown the footage which brought forth emotions which they have had to endure for two years, with some parents wishing they were in a position to help the vulnerable girls.
Rifkatu Ayuba is one such parent who identified her daughter, Saratu Ayuba, from the 15 paraded girls in the two-minute video. Emotionally, she tells CNN that she felt like “removing her from the screen. If I could, I would have removed her from the screen."
The video which could have been used to give a clue to the whereabouts and state of the girls has been termed as “too short for any meaningful comment on the state of health of the girls”, by BBC.
From the look of things, however, the 15 appeared healthy and did not show any signs of distress- an impression that Boko Haram probably want to give to the masses.
Despite appearing healthy, slight hesitations by the girls, while they answered questions from a man behind the camera, betrays a few moments of fear and emotion.
In what appears to be a scripted appeal, each of the 15 says their name, the name of the school and where they were taken from. But as the video comes to an end, one of the girls, Naomi Zakaria, makes a final plea to whoever is watching, urging the government to help reunite the girls with their families.
"I am speaking on 25 December 2015, on behalf of the all the Chibok girls and we are all well," she says.
Their kidnapping sparked mass protests in Nigeria and across the globe with leaders including Michelle Obama and other celebrities calling for immediate release of the girls, joining the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls.
Despite the global call, Boko Haram continued to abduct young girls and boys forcing some of them to be child suicide attackers in some cities in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, according to a recent survey by a UN’s child agency.
Yana Galang who accompanied Rifkatu and Mary Ishaya to watch the video in Maiduguri town was heartbroken when she was not able to trace her daughter from the 15. Unlike the other two women, Galang’s daughter was not among those captured in the video, but she said she is optimistic that they will find their girls.
"I didn't see my daughter but I now have more hope that she is alive," she tells CNN and her friends. "You can see what is yours on the screen but you can't get it.
"We have heard a lot of stories before but this video confirms that they are alive. The government should negotiate with Boko Haram."
"All we want is our daughters."
Image credit: Stephanie Busari/CNN