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Is Leah Sharibu brave or just foolish? – Peju Akande



Leah Sharibu

We’ve all celebrated the release of the 71 Dapchi girls captured by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists. I mean the 110 Dapchi girls, released. Forgive the conflicting figures.

We won’t go into the politics of the claim by government that the girls were released unconditionally; we will let government continue to make its claim, while we make our own deductions.

Now, if you’ve seen the video of when Boko Haram arrived with the girls, you would also wonder why the residents of that village welcomed the terrorists like heroes; why weren’t our soldiers at hand to apprehend them and have them arrested?  Too much politics, there, let’s talk about one that isn’t.

Let’s talk about Leah Sharibu, the lone Dapchi girl that didn’t return home after 31 days in captivity. Leah Sharibu was not allowed back home to the warm embrace of her grieving parents, she missed out on the celebrations and feasts that followed the release of the other girls, she missed the warm meal her mother would’ve prepared in anticipation of her return; the Presidential handshake the released girls would be honoured with and the celebrity status awaiting her and the rest of her friends.

Leah is just fifteen years old and yet, she stood up against the terrorists demand to have her convert to Islam.

I’ll tell you a short story to demonstrate how brave this girl is.

I come from a Muslim home; I was in secondary school, at a federal government girls’ college in Bida; when I dabbled into Pentecostalism.  One Sunday, a visiting pastor came to preach and I got converted to Christianity.

Somehow, the school’s principal got a whiff of it; she didn’t like the idea of girls converting to anything; there were six of us as it turned out. So she made an example of those of us; she gave each of us six strokes of the cane right in front of the whole assembly.

I cried for hours, my butt hurt for days, needless to say, I ran back to the waiting arms of my Muslim sisters, thoughts of Christianity vanished every time I remembered the cane.

Then I heard about Leah; the Leah who would not bow; the one girl who chose not to negotiate her faith away.

She could have deceived the terrorists like the other girls did; the other Christian girls who agreed to renounce their faith in exchange for their freedom. The promise of seeing her parents again did not move Leah to renounce her faith. And yet, we must understand that Leah isn’t ignorant of who Boko Haram is; she has heard about the Chibok girls; she has heard the blood thirsty group show no mercy…and yet she said no.

But someone said Leah is a foolish girl. Why couldn’t she just pretend to accept Islam, then go back to her Christianity once she got back home?

I can’t pretend to know what’s on Leah’s mind.

But I can guess.  She is crying, thinking of her parents, praying and asking that Christ, whom she serves, intervenes.

She is hoping the Nigerian government will not forget her but will come rescue her not because she is a Muslim, but first a Nigerian child.

She is hoping that the Christian body in Nigeria, particularly CAN, the Vice President who is also a pastor and the hundreds of churches we have in Nigeria will declare a fast on her behalf like Esther of the Bible…until she is released.

I don’t know for sure if these are Leah’s expectaions, I do know, that Leah Sharibu is brave, braver than the Nigerian government combined

She learned one thing early enough, what the Nigerian government hasn’t grasped, you don’t negotiate with terrorists!

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