How Nigeria's Most Famous Daughters Are Raising Their Voices to Bring Back Kidnapped Girls

"It was a piece of bad news that people refused to just listen to."

ByABC News
May 6, 2014, 10:32 AM

May 6, 2014— -- intro: Weeks after their abduction, 276 Nigerian school girls remain captives of an extremist militant group that has threatened to sell them into slavery. Their plight has attracted the world's attention and has mobilized men and women from all walks of life in Nigeria to raise their voices.

"It was a piece of bad news that people refused to just listen to," prominent Nigerian author Chibundu Onuzu, who is based in London, told

A leader of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility earlier this week for the kidnappings. The group's name means "Western education is forbidden."

Who Are the Kidnapped Nigerian Girls?

What You Need to Know Now About the Nigerian Kidnapped Girls

What It's Like to Be Attacked by Boko Haram: A Survivor's Story

Gunmen abducted the girls from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary school in Chibok. One girl told the New Yorker that militants dressed in Nigerian military uniforms came into their dorms and told the girls they were being taken to a safe space. They were placed in trucks and on motorcycles and driven away as the militants shouted "Allahu akbar," which means God is great.

Some of the girls have been taken across Nigeria's borders, to nearby Chad and Cameroon, to be sold into marriage, according to the Associated Press.

Here's what some of Nigeria's most famous daughters, including an actress, a famed economist and others have said and done about to "bring back our girls."

quicklist: 1title: Africa's 'Julia Roberts'text: Genevieve Nnaji, 35, is an actress, singer, model and one of Africa's most famous women.

On May 1, the entertainer, who grew up the fourth of eight children in Lagos, Nigeria, posted a call to action on Facebook.

"I've always been of the belief that less words and more action speaks greater volumes. But in this case of no foreseen action, I believe some talking is in order," she said.

"The abduction of these young girls goes against everything that we as Africans fought for, for so many years. What we as Nigerians have been faced with and have been fighting over these past years. Not to mention what we women and mothers still fight against till this very day. Kidnapping, abduction, slavery, child bride and the complete disrespect and disregard for human life and rights is my opinion, every wrong that seems to be getting away here. Reports say that our babies are being shipped off to neighboring countries, distributed and married off. How could this be when we have appointed men to protect us? Why are we called giants if we can't trample over ants? Enough of these setbacks!! There are way too many distractions for this Nation to achieve its true potential. It is time to respond and to act!!" she wrote and directed her followers to a White House petition.

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quicklist: 2title: Entrepreneur and Personality Funmi Iyandatext: As one of the most powerful media voices in Africa, television host and entrepreneur Funmi Iyanda has demanded government action to find the abducted school girls.

"I support the protests as it enforces some sort of response. We r going no where unless we get on the backs of our leaders in every sphere," she tweeted from the @Funmilola account.

"If we keep at it, our leader will either get better or make way for better leaders. Either way, we won't be lame sitting ducks."

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quicklist: 3title: Nigeria's Finance Ministertext: Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala tweeted that she was "heartbroken and angry over our girls."

The Harvard educated economist, who is Nigeria's finance minister, is gearing up for the start of a World Economic Forum in Lagos on Wednesday. Among those scheduled to attend the event are Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and representatives from his government.

Many people on social media have called for the event to be used as a catalyst for securing the safe return of the kidnapped girls.

While it remains unclear whether the kidnappings will be discussed at the forum, they're certainly on the mind of Okonjo-Iweala.

"Heartbroken and angry over our girls. Difficult for any parent to understand or to bear. I totally get the frustration and share it," a tweet from the @NOIweala account said.

"But I'm led to believe that careful action is key and ongoing so as to safeguard our girls. Let us pray for God's grace in their return."

While her choice to speak out has garnered some praise, Okonjo-Iweala's measured statement has also brought some criticism from those who feel the government is putting in the minimal effort to find the girls.

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quicklist: 4title: Nigeria's First Ladytext: Patience Jonathan, Nigeria's first lady, has faced accusations that she demanded the arrest of protesters. However, a spokesman for Jonathan told the Associated Press: "The first lady did not order the arrest of anybody, and I'm sure of that."

Over the weekend, Jonathan convened a meeting with stakeholders to discuss the kidnapped school girls, according to local reports.

"She’s the first lady of the country, so her position is definitely in the spotlight," Nigerian author Chubundu Onuzo told "It’s like she made a first step. I suppose people are looking for the action what will follow."

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quicklist: 5title: Nigerian Author Chibundu Onuzutext: Onuzu, author of "The Spider King's Daughter," grew up in Nigeria but lives in London. She said she has used social media to stay engaged and has also connected with the community in London to protest outside the Nigerian government's offices in the city.

"I think, for me, I feel that this is an opportunity for Nigerians," Onuzu said. "I was just thinking about it, that we are hoping and praying that these girls are going to be returned and rescued, but the question is: 'What is next? What kind of Nigeria are these girls going to be returned to?'

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