By Jonathan “Pogu” Ogburn
On the night of April 14 and early morning of April 15 in 2014, militants of the terror group Boko Haram attacked the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok. The militants quickly overwhelmed the small paramilitary contingent based in Chibok and abducted around 276 high school-age girl students, most of whom were members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
I heard of this story soon after it happened via social media and it resonated with me, because to me Chibok is a place I once knew as a child. My parents, Howard and Carolee Ogburn, came to Nigeria as missionaries for the Church of the Brethren Mission (CBM) in 1963. I went to Nigeria at age 3 months. We moved to the small, remote town of Chibok soon after, with my three older sisters. There I was given the Chibok name Pogu, literally “boy with three older sisters.” We later moved to other northeastern Nigerian towns. My parents and I left Nigeria in 1984, having lived in Nigeria the whole time excepting furloughs stateside.
Although I left Nigeria many years ago the experience colored my life and I follow the news there closely. Starting around 2010, Boko Haram has ravaged the very area where I grew up. Every town and village I lived in or visited has been attacked multiple times: Lassa, Chibok, Kwarhi, Mubi, and Jos. Boko Haram has been accused of multiple massacres including in Gwoza in June 2014, and in Bama and Baga in 2015. As many as 30,000 to 100,000 people have been killed in this time period. Towns and villages in large swathes of three northeastern Nigerian states lie devastated. IDP camps are full of very poorly fed refugees who are so terrified of Boko Haram that the mere rumor of approaching fighters is enough to send people fleeing.
Nigeria has given me so much, I hope to give back some to Nigeria. Using memories and sometimes old photos by CBM missionaries I have drawn pictures detailing life in remote, northeastern Nigeria. The drawings are colored using high quality Prismacolor markers.
The note cards are size 4 inches by 5 inches, are printed on quality textured linen paper, and cost $4 per card. Each comes with an envelope. Prints of the pictures are size 9 inches by 11 inches, printed on the same textured linen paper, and cost $20 each. Originals of the artwork also are for sale.
I pledge to donate half of any and all money earned to the Nigeria Crisis Fund, which has to date raised over $5 million for relief work in war-torn northeast Nigeria.
— Jon “Pogu” Ogburn grew up in Nigeria as the child of Church of the Brethren mission parents. Currently he lives in North Carolina, where he owns and operated a small home-repair business with an emphasis on fixing roof leaks. To place an “Art for Nigeria” order contact Jon Ogburn, 584 Oleander Ln., Sylva NC 28779.