From victim to human rights activist

It would be easy to forgive Bimbo Osobe if she had given up and felt she couldn’t go on. She was among thousands who watched helplessly as their homes and shops were demolished during a state-authorized forced eviction in Badia East, Lagos, Nigeria, on 23 February 2013.When Amnesty International first spoke with her in May, she was sleeping out in the open under a net and recovering from malaria. Her livelihood gone, she was completely dependent on friends or well-wishers for food and clothing.She sent her children away to live with relatives, wanting to spare them the hardship and stress she was going through.But Bimbo doesn’t want to be a victim – she wants justice. And when we met her again in August she had already begun to transform her own and her community’s situation through her activism.Thanks to a sympathetic resident, Bimbo found a place to live in a part of Badia East that escaped the bulldozers. She is helping other residents find adequate alternative housing and get compensation. She is still separated from her children, but manages to send them schoolbooks bought with money she receives from supporters.At Amnesty International’s August launch of a report on Badia East, Bimbo led the community in singing solidarity and motivational songs. She also acted as interpreter during a housing rights workshop, and spoke passionately to community members. At a round table discussion about the right to adequate housing in Lagos state, Bimbo urged the authorities to resettle and compensate people affected.Amnesty International is campaigning to end forced evictions in Badia East, and for all those affected to receive compensation and other protection. But the community remains at risk: the state government has indicated that it intends to demolish the whole community in two further mass evictions. International solidarity will go a long way in helping the people of Badia East to continue their fight for adequate housing. Bimbo said: “We thank Amnesty International for supporting us after the demolition, and we want you to continue to support us and help to fight for our right.”She and the other activists plan to display any solidarity cards they receive in the Better Life Community Centre where they meet. 

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