Recently, a social media campaign called “Bring Our Girls Back” has erupted in response to the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls by terrorist group Boko Haram. Several photos of citizens and celebrities alike have surfaced with them holding up a sign with the slogan in an effort to raise awareness and gain the support of government. In the past few weeks, the campaign has been very successful, reaching the ranks of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Unfortunately an issue has recently surfaced related to the most circulated photo of the campaign which features a girl that is neither kidnapped nor Nigerian. The photo is actually of Jenabu Balde, a girl from Guinea-Bissau on Africa’s western coast. It was found on the Alexia Foundation website, a photojournalism organization.
The photographer, Ami Vitale, has since issued a statement saying, “I support the campaign completely, and I would do anything to bring attention to the situation. It’s a beautiful campaign that shows the power of social media. This is a separate issue….This is about misrepresentation.” Emmanuel Hephzibah, the Nigerian man responsible for photoshopping the photograph and adding the hashtag, says he meant no harm claiming, “I was crying out so that our voice could be heard in Nigeria, because it seems our government was not ready to take any action. I credited the source of the image as AlexiaFoundation.org.”
Though Hephzibah has been asked to take down the photo, the image has already gone viral in association with this campaign and is impossible to remove completely. Unfortunately for Balde, she will also be associated with this campaign for a long time as the face of a terrible, ongoing crisis.
Source: PR Daily