By Robyn Dixon
Los Angeles Times.
REPORTING FROM ABUJA, Nigeria
Each day the relatives, friends and activists gather in a park below a towering luxury hotel here in the Nigerian capital to plan the next step in their effort to bring back 276 abducted girls.
On Wednesday, the #BringBackOurGirls international social media campaign marked Day 37.
On Thursday, key members plan to march to the office and residence of President Goodluck Jonathan, known here as the Villa, in the hope of meeting with him.
Perhaps 100 people form the nucleus of the wildly successful campaign, which has pressured the government and security forces to do more to rescue the schoolchildren and has focused global attention on the decade-old violent insurgency.
The atmosphere in the park is something between a town hall meeting and a charismatic congregation, fueled by faith, enthusiasm and determination.
Faces glow in the wilting afternoon heat as the group discusses T-shirts and banners for the march.
The feisty, imposing women at the heart of the effort urge everyone to wear red shirts, and they discourage scrawling slogans willy-nilly on homemade banners.
Oby Ezekwesili, a coordinator, begins the meeting most days, saying in her deep voice, “What do we want?”
“Bring back our girls, now and alive,” the chorus returns.
“OK, wake up!” she exhorted at Tuesday’s meeting. “Why are we here?” The crowd shouted back, louder this time. But it wasn’t enough for Ezekwesili, clad in a pink outfit with a pert red beret. “That’s not sharp,” she said.
“Is anyone tiring out?” she said.
The crowd shouted, “No!”
“Are you ready to be said to have given up?”
There was singing. There were prayers. There were calls to donate money for the T-shirts bearing the slogan #BringBackOurGirls. Members of the crowd grabbed a microphone to offer suggestions, comments and news.