The 2014 abduction of 276 secondary school girls from the Government College, Chibok by the Boko Haram sect remains a sore subject for many Nigerians. It has inspired hundreds of articles, documentaries, music etc; sparked a political revolution, brought attention to lackadaisical attitude of our federal government and the corruption that is literally threatening to destroy us.
The situation is made even more pathetic by the fact that the bulk of these children are yet to be found 2 years later.
In this book, Helon Habila takes us with him on his trip to Chibok, we meet some of the parents of the abducted girls, get a feel of the state of affairs in this town before and since the abduction. They narrate events that tug at your heart-strings and sound unbelievable, given that this is the country I live in.
The writer takes us from these sad accounts straight into a brief account of Nigeria’s bloody history. This, I think, is the most important part of this book, because nobody has ever presented Nigeria’s history to me with such frankness. All I remember from school is a sterile account of power exchanging hands with no mention of the gallons of blood shed in the process.
This transition is genius, as it takes you from sadness and grief to anger in just a few pages. The author also makes a case for how the political squabbles and self-centeredness of our leaders created a fertile environment for an organization like Boko Haram to thrive.
This book is well written but it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. What the author does so well however is humanize the families directly affected by Boko Haram’s reign of terror. He writes about strong, willful people determined to survive in a system that seems to be working actively against them.
I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Title: The Chibok Girls; The Boko haram kidnappings and Islamist militancy in Nigeria
Author: Helon Habila
Published by: Columbia Global Reports
Date of Publication: December 5, 2016
Genre: Nonfiction; Politics
On April 14, 2014, 267 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world’s deadliest terrorist group. Most were never heard from again. Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Helon Habila, who grew up in northern Nigeria, returned to Chibok and gained intimate access to the families of the kidnapped to offer a devastating account of this tragedy that stunned the world. With compassion and deep understanding of historical context, Habila tells the stories of the girls and the anguish of their parents; chronicles the rise of Boko Haram and the Nigerian government’s inept response; and captures the indifference of the media and the international community whose attention has moved on.
Employing a fiction writer’s sensibility and a journalist’s curiosity, THE CHIBOK GIRLS provides poignant portraits of everyday Nigerians whose lives have been transformed by extremist forces. Habila illuminates the long history of colonialism–and unmasks cultural and religious dynamics–that gave rise to the conflicts that have ravaged the region to this day.
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