The Book of the Week is “Beneath the Tamarind Tree, A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram” by Isha Sesay, published in 2019.
In April 2014, Boko Haram members (Muslim extremists) abducted a few hundred female students from a boarding school in Chibok in Nigeria. For the attention whores of the world, a Twitter account was immediately started, inviting comments. The American news cycle ended quickly, but trauma for the victims and their families– even for the girls who were released (fewer than half at the book’s writing)– will never end.
Apparently, the trading relationship between the United States and Nigeria wasn’t a sufficient motivator to resolve the situation peacefully. In 2017, there occurred more than $9 billion worth of oil, cocoa, cashew nuts, minerals and animal feed exchanged between the two.
The author had a vested interest in seeing the girls’ safe release, as her mother’s family hailed from Sierra Leone on the continent of Africa, and her family had lived there. So her personal experience put her in a better position to get the story, more than other TV journalists. Even so, information-gathering through personal interviews could be life-threatening, as Boko Haram was a terrorist group comprised of sociopathic sadists with weaponry– child-soldiers– who had occasional episodes of sympathy but usually had no qualms about committing looting and arson, to boot.
The author felt that the 2016 U.S. presidential election eclipsed all media coverage of her Nigeria story– more media coverage would have swayed the world to take action on behalf of the abducted girls. Possibly. But– in the 1990’s, American media outlets covered Nigeria only insofar as to give it a reputation for fraudsters who got Americans to fall for inheritance scams via airmail or email.
So that is all that most people here know about Nigeria. They usually don’t actively seek news from the European media outlets, such as the BBC, the Guardian, Al Jazeera or Reuters. “Breaking News” coverage on their favorite celebrities, politicians and themselves, is much more of a priority. Sadly.
Read the book to learn many more details.