Chibok Girls: A Nigerian Father I Met Just Embraced His Daughter For the First Time in 3 Years
There are some moments in life when words fail utterly.
“Amazing joy,” is what Yakubu Nkeki says washed over him this week as he was reunited with his daughter Maimuna, one of the Chibok girls who was kidnapped by an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria more than 3 years ago.
“Today is a wonderful day,” he told The Guardian. “I saw the girls and Maimuna. When she saw me, she ran and grabbed me and started crying. I was so overwhelmed.”
The Nigerian government announced last weekend that 82 Chibok girls had been freed. Days later, Nkeki found out that one of them was his daughter.
“I was so happy to see her and so relieved that she looked fine, no scars or wounds on her body. She looked well kept,” he said. “I can’t describe it.”
I met Yakubu Nkeki in 2015 as I visited with several of the fathers of the Chibok girls. He told me about his daughter, Maimuna, whom he explained was named for his mother. He showed me her photo and the photos of the more than 200 other Chibok girls who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram on that fateful night.
My time spent with the fathers of the Chibok girls was one of heartache and grief. Several of the fathers broke down weeping as they described wondering if their daughters were dead or alive. One couldn’t stop saying between sobs, “I miss her, I miss her, I miss her.”
Yakubu Nkeki told me how special his daughter was, how much he missed her. His eyes brimmed with tears when he talked about her.
The families of the Chibok girls have endured three years of broken promises and untrue rumors. Isolated in a dangerous area of the country, and feeling abandoned by the Nigerian government, the families have struggled for years. For many, the waiting proved to be too much. A number of the Chibok parents have died during their daughters’ captivity over the past three years, and Nkeki is convinced it’s for no reason other than their broken hearts.
Pastor Ayuba, one of the Chibok fathers whose daughter Amina was kidnapped that fateful day in 2014, described the agony he and his family have endured. “We waited and waited, receiving many fresh promises. Up to now, we are still waiting. I shed tears, but what can I do? The only thing I can do is give it to God.”
Open Doors has worked extensively with the families of the Chibok girls, providing trauma counseling, and meeting both physical and spiritual needs in the midst of this dark chapter in their lives.
As other Chibok parents wait to find out if their daughters are among those who have been freed, please remember these families in your thoughts and prayers. It is my prayer that all of the fathers I met will soon have a daughter running back into their arms.
Please also take a moment to advocate for persecuted Christians in Nigeria by joining our newly launched advocacy campaign, urging President Trump to appoint an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, to keep pressure on countries where Christians face the most severe persecution because of their faith.
The prayers of three years for the missing Chibok girls are beginning to be answered. Thank God for this amazing news—and please, keep the Chibok girls who remain in captivity in your prayers. May every girl find freedom and be reunited with a loving family.