I recently attended a production of Seven, the story of Seven inspirational women, from Afghanistan, Guatemala, Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Cambodia, Russia and of Hafsat Abiola from Nigeria. You may remember the story of Mukhtar Mai, which became international news, she was gang raped as a child by another family as an “honour” punishment, and instead of committing suicide as society expected of her, she brought her rapists to justice and started building schools for women and girls, unfortunately her fight is not over. The part of each woman was read by an actor, the stories are of pain, but of hope as each woman fought for her own rights and those of others.
Hafsat Abiola from Nigeria, was a student in America when she was asked to sign a petition to release the newly elected Nigerian president, Moshood Abiola from prison, the man was her father.
1993 – Ibrahim Babangida allows elections, but when civilian Moshood Abiola wins, he reneges, annuls the elections and throws Abiola into jail
1998 – Abacha dies suddenly and is succeeded by Major General Abdulsalam Abubakar. Chief Abiola is found dead in his prison cell a month later. (from Bradt Nigeria Guide)
After the production, Hafsat Abiola who was in the audience, spoke about the show, it was the first time she had seen it performed in Nigeria, and also spoke about the work she is doing to campaign for democracy. In April 2011, Nigeria’s 51st year, the next election will be held, Hafsat is part of a campaign called Enough is Enough encouraging people to RSVP, Register to Vote, Select, Vote, Protect your vote by calling for accountability.
As Nigeria approaches these elections, if you are someone who prays then please pray, for a calm free fair peaceful election, with an outcome that is good for Nigeria and Nigerians.
And whatever happens don’t give up, Hafsat closed with this poem, by Dag Hammarskjold, the second Secretary General of the United Nations, who died in a plane crash during the time he was trying to bring peace to the Congo
The heart achesMeltwater trickles
Down the rocks,
The fingers are numb,
The knees tremble.
It is now,
Now that you must not give in.
On the path of the others
Are resting places,
Places in the sun
Where they can meet.
Is your path,
And it is now,
Now that you must not fail.
If you can,
But do not complain.
The way chose you-
And you must be thankful.