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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Boko Haram: Why it’s important to listen to the survivors of Boko Haram terrorism

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In 2009 a as soon as quiet native Salafi group referred to as Boko Haram turned more and more violent in north-east Nigeria and border communities of Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Its quest to forbid western schooling within the closely Islamic area has led to the kidnapping of many college kids, the slaughter of an estimated 2,200 academics and the burning down of 1,400 colleges. However the terrorist group was largely unknown on the world stage till the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from the Nigerian city of Chibok in April 2014.

The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, used within the worldwide requires the women to be rescued, garnered over 3.3 million tweets in lower than a month. It turned Twitter’s most used hashtag on the time, reaching 6.1 million tweets in 2016. It impressed protests all over the world demanding the instant launch of the women.

A few of these ladies are nonetheless in captivity as we speak; others have been rescued or have escaped. However a number of the rescued ladies returned to their abductors. It was an indication that there was extra to learn about Boko Haram terrorism.

In a latest research, I argue that the worldwide recognition of the Chibok ladies case is as a result of arduous work of the #BringBackOurGirls marketing campaign. Its framing of the case, nonetheless, failed to supply a nuanced image of realities in Nigeria.

The violence of Boko Haram within the north-east is far more advanced than the gendered divisions (feminine victims versus male perpetrators) that emerged. I turned to the testimonial tales that emerged after the kidnapping to supply extra insights.

Inventive responses

Writers, journalists and artists responded strongly to the #BringBackOurGirls marketing campaign.

The kidnapping has been taken up in novels (Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree), movies (Nollywood’s Boko Haram and a scene in Hollywood’s Black Panther), documentaries (Stolen Daughters and Daughters of Chibok), poems (The E book of Chibok), literary memoirs (A Present From Darkness), literary reportage (The Chibok Women and Beneath the Tamarind Tree), visible artwork and songs – to say only a few.

I contemplate these inventive works as testimonial narratives, as they’re based mostly on survivors’ testimonies. In my evaluation, these representations have to be learn as a part of the #BringBackOurGirls marketing campaign.

Testimonial narratives

Studying these texts, I started to note a narrative far more advanced than what is accessible in public media and even educational scholarship. For one factor, the Chibok case is neither exemplary nor singular. By focusing completely on this case, the motion missed a possibility to articulate a extra nuanced and complicated response to Boko Haram.

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For this reason one of many motion’s foremost writers, Nigerian novelist and journalist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, claims that the extreme deal with the Chibok ladies, to the detriment of different tales from kids, women and men, was “a mistake”. As she argues, it’s only by a strong engagement with the tragedy of terrorism in northern Nigeria that we will find out how finest to confront it meaningfully.

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree

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Nwaubani strives to realize this complexity in her acclaimed novel, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree. The textual content is a literary testimonial narrated by the angle of an unnamed teenage lady survivor, affectionately referred to as Yaa Taa by her mother and father. Nwaubani affirms and in addition strikes past the Chibok case by making Yaa Taa consultant of all ladies and ladies kidnapped by Boko Haram – not simply the Chibok ladies.

The novel additionally undoes the simple gender binary constructed by the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners. Boko Haram has additionally murdered boys and males whereas kidnapping women and girls. When Boko Haram invades her village and nearly annihilates all males and boys, Yaa Taa mourns:

I thank God that I’m a woman … it was the boys and males that acquired referred to as to 1 facet of the constructing when the Boko Haram males gathered all of the villagers … It was the boys who had been mendacity in shallow puddles of purple, whereas the women and girls and toddlers had been marched into vans.

Italian journalist Viviana Mazza’s afterword in Nwaubani’s novel helps Yaa Taa’s expertise. It mirrors what she heard from different witnesses she interviewed.

The ladies additionally allude to the trauma of witnessing such grotesque murders and the problem of survival within the absence of their fathers, husbands, brothers, academics and neighborhood leaders of their patriarchal society. But this has been scarcely acknowledged. #BringBackOurGirls reveals a necessity for a greater understanding of the fragile scenario in these communities.

A number of experiences

We discover related testimonies in different narratives revealed within the aftermath of the Chibok ladies’ kidnapping. For instance, A Present from Darkness: How I Escaped with My Daughter from Boko Haram is a memoir written by a German journalist, Andrea Hoffmann. She interviews a survivor, Endurance Ibrahim, whose husband was murdered by Boko Haram. Not one of the male members of her household survived and she or he was left with none household assist.

Even a Wall Avenue Journal article exhibiting that Boko Haram had kidnapped over 10,000 boys by 2016 was largely ignored within the face of the #BringBackOurGirls marketing campaign.

What this reveals is that witness accounts and testimonial narratives have the potential to supply deeper insights into historic occasions. However we have to hear rigorously to the tales of survivors who might not be telling us precisely what we wish to hear.

Testimonial narratives have additionally enabled different tales, experiences and voices to emerge. The violence inflicted by Boko Haram terrorism cuts past the Chibok case and crosses gender strains.

With out understanding the nuances of this violence, we can’t start to unravel it. Nor can we perceive why a few of those that have been rescued are returning to their captors. Solely they may be capable of inform us.

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