'Statues Also Breathe' movie honours Nigerian Chibok girls 10 years after

Friday April 05 2024

Nigerian students and staff who were kidnapped sit after they arrived at the local government house in Kaduna, Nigeria on March 25, 2024. PHOTO | REUTERS


 In an effort to remember and honour Nigerian schoolgirls still missing ten years after their abduction by Islamist insurgents in Chibok, a film titled "Statues Also Breathe" was screened on Thursday in Lagos, Nigeria.

Hosted by the SAB Art Foundation and the Chibok Parents Association, the film documents the creation of terracotta sculptures representing each of the 108 missing girls, serving as a tribute and a reminder of the girls' absence and the ongoing struggle of their families and community.

27-year-old Amina Ali, who had a baby while in captivity and later escaped in 2016 shared her experience.

Read: Why Nigerian kidnappers target school children

"They just start asking us that who wish to convert to Islam or something...and that night, even Shekau (Abubakar Shekau, former leader of Boko Haram) too came, and he explained to us why he abducted us and he said that they don't want to hear anything like school," she said as she answered questions in a panel discussion after the screening of the documentary.

The art project was initiated in collaboration with a French artist Prune Nourry, Nigerian university students, and a team of potters, resulting in the creation of 108 life-sized clay sculptures.


These were crafted based on photographs of the girls, shared by their families and aims to revive attention towards their plight and serve as a healing process for those involved.

Abductions at Nigerian schools were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 276 students from a girls' school in Chibok in northeastern Borno State a decade ago. Some of them never came back.

But since then, criminal gangs without ideological affiliation have adopted the tactic to obtain ransom money.

With Nigeria's economy and poverty levels worsening, abductions have become an almost daily occurrence in recent years, tearing apart families and communities that must pool savings to pay ransoms.

Read: Nigerian kidnappers demand ransom to free school hostages

The government position is that security forces should secure the release of kidnap victims without "a dime" paid for ransom.

Paying to free hostages has been a crime in Nigeria since 2022 and carries a jail sentence of at least 15 years.