According to BBC reports, there’s been a debate online about who started the hashtag#BringBackOurGirls, which has so far been tweeted 1.3 million times. So who did?
US media have reported that Ramaa Mosley, a Los Angeles filmmaker, created the hashtag after sharing it on her Twitter page@MaryStrawberry. This claim led to anger among some Nigerians. “This is ridiculous, Nigerians not @MaryStrawberry created the hashtag” wrote@cchukudebelu. “Just like ‘Oprah saved South Africa from apartheid’, @MaryStrawberry ‘created awareness for the kidnapped girls’. Whatever. Just find them.” Twitter users were quick to react and clarify that Mosley posted the hashtag on the 26th April, days after it was first used.
But others said focusing on who started the hashtag was missing the point. “Before you start bashing @clancycnn and @marystrawberry remember that this is not about who created the hashtag” tweetedIkenna A. Okonkwo, a geologist living in Nigeria.
As we reported on this blog, Ibrahim M Abdullahi, a lawyer in Nigeria, was one of the first to tweet the hashtag. After further checks, it became clear that he was in fact the very first. He heard former Federal Minister of Education Obiageli Ezekwesili speak at an event in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt. On 23 April, Abdullahi tweeted about her words using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Ezekwesili then retweeted Abdullahi.
And later that day, Ezekwesili posted a tweet of her own using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. This was the beginning of what would become a worldwide trending campaign.
Irrespective of the fact that Ramaa Mosley was not the first to tweet #BringBackOurGirls, she has worked tirelessly on social media to raise awareness and is the creator of a Facebook page which curates information about the story and shares ideas about how people can take action. The page now has more than 60,000 likes.
The man behind the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls echoes that sentiment. “What’s important is that the hashtag is raising awareness,” Abdullahi told BBC Trending. “The intention of all who tweeted it was to bring this barbaric act to the attention of the world and to rescue the girls, as the hashtag says #BringBackOurGirls.”