COLUMBIA — Holding signs that read "Bring Back Our Girls" and "Our Children Deserve Better," a group of almost 40 people rallied in downtown Columbia to raise awareness for hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls.
Femi Ogungbade, 48, president of Egbe Omo Oduduwa of Mid-Missouri, a group dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Yoruba culture, said he wanted to raise awareness in mid-Missouri of the April 15 kidnappings. More than 300 Nigerian girls were abducted by the extremist group Boko Haram..
Many of the people at the rally were Nigerian. State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R–Columbia, 48, joined them in front of the Boone County Courthouse. He said it was important to show that terrorist acts like these do not affect just one region or community, but the entire world.
"I think it's important for everyone to show them solidarity and to show them these aren't just terrorist crimes in Nigeria. They're terrorist crimes against humanity," Sen. Schaefer said.
Last week, a video was released on Boko Haram's threat to sell the abducted schoolgirls, and the group threatened to attack more schools and abduct more girls, according to Associated Press reports.
The kidnapping and the Nigerian government's response to it has roused protests in cities across the globe. The international community has offered aid to the Nigerian government in helping to rescue the girls.
One of the purposes of this rally was to press Nigeria to step up efforts to find the missing girls. Rebecca Oyelola, 57, who is from Nigeria, said it is the government's duty to bring them home.
"Our government needs to do more," Oyelola said. "We want them to protect the people back home."
Some also stressed the importance of providing continuing help for the girls when they are rescued.
"When they come back, there should be medical provisions for them," Ogungbade said. "We want them to be rehabilitated."
Afolake Adeoye, 44, said that although she lives in Columbia, her heart still bleeds for the people in her home country.
"Being here, we know that we are safe, but what about our people?" Adeoye said. "All this needs to stop."
Supervising editor is Edward Hart.