By the time former president Goodluck Johnathan finally addressed Nigerians on the abduction of about 270 school girls from their dormitory in Chibok town, most Nigerians were already in confusion due to arrays of disheartening insecurity reports from the northeast region.
On the night of April 14 2014, members of the jihadist group – Boko Haram – had attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, the epicentre of the terrorists, carting away the girls in truckloads.
The president’s media briefing in May 2014, three weeks after the girls’ abduction, reassuring citizens of his government’s commitment to security, was insufficient to allay fears of the possible spread of domestic terrorism.
While over half of the girls have been released following government negotiations with the jihadists who preach that Western education is a taboo in Islam, about 100 are still in captivity, and hopes of their return are fading.
However, to remind the world of the 2014 tragedy, French artist, Prune Nourry, in collaboration with Nigerian university students, professional potters and the families of the victims, has sculpted the faces of the 108 Chibok girls who are still missing.
The sculptures, titled “Statues Also Breathe”, were displayed at a Lagos exhibition.
“People who see the show will remember the importance of girls’ education, then the fact that sculpture can personify someone and catch the breathing life and the symbol of someone, of life,” Nourry said.
Nourry further explained the process of executing the Idea. She met with families of the missing Chibok girls and, with permission, acquired their portraits.
The artist designed eight heads, drawing inspiration from the portraits, and students created a further 108 at Obafemi-Awolowo University.
Nourry hopes the work of art will travel around Africa and the world and keep bringing light on a topic that otherwise could have been forgotten.
The sculptures, entirely made of clay, are displayed at the Art Twenty-One gallery centre in Lagos, Nigeria.