Rochester Nigerians react to mass abduction - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rochester Nigerians react to mass abduction

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The kidnapping of more than 300 girls from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in northeast Nigeria has sparked protests around the world in recent weeks.  Fifty-three escaped their captors, but the search for 276 girls continues.

The students were abducted during the night on April 14.  The extremist Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, which means "western education is a sin" took responsibility for the kidnapping. 

Bryon Bothun of Winona taught in West Africa while volunteering with the Peace Corps in the late 1980s.  He said when Boko Haram marched into the secondary school last month, the students were likely preparing for a test so difficult and expensive, that only a select number who pass advance to college courses. 

"They didn't just grab any 300 girls," said Bothun.  "They grabbed a very specific and significant group of students from that school."

Bothun taught one of the higher-level courses and said the number of students, especially girls, achieving in subjects including math and science has grown significantly in the past 20 years.

"It was quite uncommon for us to even have girls sitting for the physics exam," said Bothun.
The response by Nigeria's government has drawn criticism abroad, many accusing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan of not being more aggressive in going after the kidnappers.  A lack of answers has prompted rallies from Lagos to London, New York and Washington D.C.

"It's likely they may have gone on to college, they may have become leaders in the Nigerian government and society and they probably would've passed those attitudes on to their children; grabbing those 300 girls prevents that," said Bothun.

In northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram's mission of eliminating western education, especially that of girls, has gained momentum.  Kola Lasisi of Rochester, said before he moved to Rochester nine years ago, the Nigerian government did little to help its people.

"As long as their children aren't being killed, as long as their children -- don't even go to school in Africa, they go to school maybe in the west. They don't really put so much effort into helping the people there," said Lasisi.  "If people in Rochester cannot go physically to Nigeria to help, I believe our prayer will go a long way."

Mark Adafin moved to the United States 26 years ago and said he hopes international attention will prompt change in his home country.

"I still have friends and family back home and still have nieces and nephews," said Adafin.  "Nieces that I'd like to become a lawyer, to become a medical doctor, to have just as much right to pursue education so they can have a better life."

On Tuesday, the White House announced it is sending a team, that includes military and law enforcement, to Nigeria to help in the search for the missing girls.
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