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Nigerians initiated Bring Back Our Girls campaign on Twitter in order to urge the government of Nigeria to act swiftly in bringing home more than 250 Chibok girls whore were abducted by Boko Haram, an Islamist terror group. The campaign which started in the social media gained a lot of support from people across the globe with world leaders taking pictures while holding placards bearing the slogans such as Bring Back Our Girls, Bring Our Girls Home, and Real Men do not Buy Girls. Among the leaders who supported the campaign and engaged in it, there are Michelle Obama, Malala from Pakistan, and Cameron. Artists such as Dwayne Johnson and Angelina Jolie also supported the campaigning. The Bring Back Our Girls campaign comes in a series of other similar social media campaigns like the Stop Kony social media campaign in 2012 and the We Are One campaign fledged by Kenyans in the wake of the Westgate terror attack. While the world is busy sharing messages on Twitter regarding the Bring Back Our Girls hashtag, media personalities and social media analysts continue to view the campaign like any other campaign on social media which runs as long as there is no other news, such as celebrity scandals, to take up the time. In this paper, the Bring Back Our Girls campaign will be analyzed in terms of its effectiveness and achievement of its purpose. The campaign will be evaluated in comparison to other social media campaigns like the Stop Kony social media campaign and the We Are One campaign started by Kenyans on Twitter. This evaluation asserts that the Bring Back Our Girls campaign was not effective, because it was focused on dealing with the symptoms of a deep-rooted societal problem instead of solving the problem itself.
To begin with, Bring Back Our Girls campaign focused on a problem beyond the scope of the campaigners and the government of Nigeria. It set to ensure that the government of Nigeria acted swiftly in rescuing the young women. However, the attempts by the government to collect intelligence regarding the possible location of the abducted girls resulted in mass killings and bombing of more Nigerians by the Boko Haram. If the campaign had focused on finding grounds upon which the government of Nigeria could dialogue with the militants, it would probably have been easier and the mass killings and bombing of villages would not have occurred. Bring Back Our Girls can be compared to the We Are One campaign that took place in Kenya. The campaign was based on uniting Kenyans at the time when cooperation was required from everyone in the country in order to successfully deal with the problems that the country faced. The citizens and residents came together to donate blood in order to assist those who had been injured in the attack.
The Bring Back Our Girls campaign created an avenue through which the plight of the girls gained global publicity. This prompted commentaries from global leaders; more importantly, other nations offered to assist Nigeria in the search and rescue of the girls. Such countries included the United Stated which offered Nigeria a number of soldiers to assist the Nigerian armed forces in collecting intelligence regarding the location of the girls. China, Britain, and France were also among the countries that offered their assistance to Nigeria. A similar case happened during the Westgate terror attack in Kenya where the unity of the Kenyans as shown in the We Are One campaign prompted friends of Kenya to participate in the mission of the rescue of the Westgate hostages (Okwembah par.3). Similarly, the world joined hands during the Stop Kony campaign in 2012. However, the efforts to apprehend Kony did not succeed since there were a few countries such as Sudan which collaborated with the militants.
Culturally, social media campaigns run as long as the mass media continue to air the news upon which the campaign started. For instance, the Bring Back Our Girls campaign was overhyped at the time when the major mass media stations discussed and presented the news on the abductions. Continued analysis and presentation of the situation turns it to a norm, and as it becomes a norm, the campaign slowly dies. If other news arises, such as the Thailand coup, to replace the news upon which the campaign began, the campaign may slowly come to an end; that is why the social media activists are branded as slack activists. A similar case happened with the We Are One and Stop Kony campaigns. This contributes to the failure of the social media campaigns.
Apparently, the Bring Back Our Girls campaign has been hijacked by rogue parties intending to make fun out of the slogan, corporate bodies intending to market their brands through the campaign slogan, and artists focused on marketing themselves to the public. In addition, the campaign’s slogans are also being used by malicious hackers who get masses to like pages and pictures in social media; in the process, the hacker collects private data from the social media fraternity. In Kenya, the We Are One campaign was hijacked by politicians who twisted the meaning of the statement; instead of unifying the nation, they ended up unifying groups of people such as those who were mostly profiled for screening by the government. To some extent, the hijacking of We Are One campaign resulted in the increased animosity and tribal intolerance in Kenya (Okwembah).