Pause: Where were you on your 15th birthday? 

Pause: Where were you on your 15th birthday? 


Yesterday (14 May) marked the 15th birthday of Leah Sharibu, a Nigerian school girl who has been held captive for almost three months by Boko Haram kidnappers. I join her family and people around the world in fasting and praying for Leah’s speedy and safe release. 

On 19 February, Leah was one of 110 girls abducted by armed terrorists who attacked their school (Government Girls Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State). Almost two months ago, 104 were released from captivity, but not Leigh who was the only Christian among those taken. Leah has refused to renounce her Christian faith. Five of these innocent children died in captivity.

Whilst May is a month when thousands of students around the globe are graduating into new chapters of their young lives, let us remember not only Leah Sharibu, but also other innocents held captive around the world through abductions like this, human trafficking, and other cruel deprivations of freedom. In Nigeria alone, more than 1,000 children have been kidnapped including the 300 Chibok school girls about four years ago. 100 of these girls are still being held hostage.

Let us also remember heroic people from all walks of life who have chosen over the centuries to risk their freedoms and even their lives to stand up peacefully for justice, equality, the freedom to worship without fear, and other sacred human rights.

Today, please share this post and if you can, retweet #FreeLeah and even attach a picture of yourself holding A4 or A3 signs with the words #FreeLeah.

Whatever your own nationality or faith — please consider taking a moment to speak up (in your own way) and show you care for the human rights of young Leah Sharibu and so many known and unknown heroes like her throughout the world, now and through the ages, who have inspired us with their faith and their courage.


Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

4 Replies to “Pause: Where were you on your 15th birthday? ”

  1. Pyemwa writes,

    My son was 15 a few months ago. I had the joy of having him at home to celebrate. He should have been in school but an outbreak of chickenpox brought him home.

    I was happy to hold him and bless him and celebrate. My heart goes out to the Sharibus as I keep praying.

    I have been praying Hebrews 11:35 for this heroine off faith. By faith we receive her back as from the dead. She who refused to be released because she was aware of a higher reward.

    Even in captivity and isolation, God’s powerful presence remains with her.

    My reply,
    Beautiful message.
    Thank you.

  2. Samuel writes,

    The faith of Leah even in the face of death, has really challenged me to always stand for what I believe.. I celebrate the courage of Leah, and other known and unknown individuals who has been held captive for standing their ground… I pray that GOD ALMIGHTY will intervene and bring about their release from captivity…

    My reply,
    Personally, no one has challenged me in my own faith, [as a Christian] than this little girl called Leah Sharibu from a poor village in Nigeria.
    There is a courage which comes only from God.

    It is like when the little Muslim girl from Pakistan, looked at gunmen looking for her amongst a group of school girls in a bus said:
    “I’m Malala”. Then they shot her, and fled, leaving her for dead.
    Later she said she did it because she did not want them to harm any innocent girl.

  3. Prince Chike Unanma wrote:
    Mr.Strive Sir! someone opined in a post I read that Leah should have denied Christ and be freed and that wouldn’t have Made her a non Christian…Please What is Your take on This?

    My response

    Let’s just say for now, your question is inappropriate.
    There is a time and a place for everything.

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