Remembering the Chibok Girls: Isha Sesay’s New Book ‘Beneath the Tamarind Tree’ Gives a First-hand Account of the Chibok Girls’ Abduction

“I just got to the point where I said to myself, “you can’t just let this community and our children be forgotten.” The Chibok girls might still be in captivity, but they are not forgotten. Many leading ladies around the world lent their voices to ensure the release of the girls and Sierraleaonean born journalist, Isha Sesay, is one of the many voices still clamouring for the release of the Chibok girls.

Isha Sesay, who was the host of CNN Africa at the time of the Chibok girls captivity was one of the foremost voices covering the events taking place in Chibok, following and reporting on every painstaking detail about the girls and their possible whereabouts, even earning the network a Peabody Award in 2014 for her coverage. Her commitment to their story didn’t wane, even after the world seemed to have moved on.

Her debut book Beneath the Tamarind Tree is described as “the first definitive” account of the girl’s experiences under Boko Haram, offering firsthand accounts from the very night that they were taken, to the response from affected families, forced to find ways to cope with the absence of their sisters and daughters.

It underlines the strength demanded of the young girls in order to survive; while Sesay’s own commentary tackles the unfit response from both international organizations and the Nigerian government in fighting the threat of Boko Haram and protecting the lives of everyday Nigerian citizens. Beneath the Tamarind Tree is a sobering reminder that the crisis isn’t over, even if the social media outcry is.

For Isha Sesay, this is beyond the Chibok girls, it is about Africa in general “I say this in the book, I think that [a violation of] trust is committed against black and brown women who are easily overlooked and forgotten. People move past them. This is about righting that wrong and really providing a full context of what these girls endured, what they overcame. I didn’t want to get upset with the way people are so keen to portray Africa and Africans at their very worst instead of with dignity. I wanted to present, a full complex picture. I didn’t want to luxuriate in that kind of awfulness. The awfulness, yes it happened and I wanted to tell that story, but for me it was also just as important to show how much they progressed. Those are the things that were on my mind as I wrote the story: to write with a sense of love for them. And try and help people understand that these girls matter.

For a lot of people, the story of the Chibok girls was a trending topic that fazed away after a while, but Isha had not only dug deeper into the circumstances surrounding their captivity, she has also helped uncover certain truths (without the fear of the Nigerian Government), she has also ensured that in the midst of all other activities, her voice and fight for the release of the Chibok girl has not been quenched. This is a leading lady to emulate, go girl!

Read more on Okay Africa

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