On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls. Some managed to escape. Many are still missing. A new pair of shoes, a university degree, a husband—these are the things that a girl dreams of in a Nigerian village. A girl who works hard in school and to help her family. A girl with a future as bright as live coals in the dark. And with a government scholarship right around the corner, everyone—her mother, her five brothers, her best friend, her teachers—can see that these dreams aren’t too far out of reach. Even if the voices on Papa’s radio tell more fearful news than tales to tell by moonlight.
But the girl’s dreams turn to nightmares when her village is attacked by Boko Haram, a terrorist group, in the middle of the night. Kidnapped, she is taken with other girls and women into the forest where she is forced to follow her captors’ radical beliefs and watch as her best friend slowly accepts everything she’s been told. Still, the girl defends her existence. As impossible as escape may seem, her life—her future—is hers to fight for.
Buried beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is one book that will forever stay with me, it covers the harrowing experience girls who have been captured by the extremist group Boko Haram face. Giving them life, making them more than just a number, stories in the news or movements like Bring Back Our Girls, sharing their stories, making them real people, not just tragic stories that are so out of touch from most of our own realities.
This story isn’t for the lightest of hearts because it includes all the terrible things we women are constantly afraid would happen to us. I heard Adaobi talk about this book, the pain of writing it, talking to dozens of families who had been torn apart due to Boko Haram, to hear their stories and give them a voice. How there’s more going on than is brought to light by the news, I learnt a lot just by listening to her talk and reading this book than I have ever learnt from the media.
The writing style of this book makes it a personal read because each chapter gives us full access to the thoughts of our protagonist, we vividly get to experience her life with her from start to finish of the book, starting with a time before she was abducted. Sharing her joy in the little things that made her happy, the love that she was surrounded by and her little worries before the fear started to creep in and infiltrate her little village right before the greatest of their fears came to life.
Our protagonist is a brave young girl and is now my beacon of hope. Adaobi paints a vivid picture of life in captivity, which made my soul ache because of all the evilness. This story makes me more than thankful for my sheltered little life and I hope to never experience or come across people who are so inhumane. For the people who are currently trapped in this life, right now I can only hope the people in power retrieve them sooner rather than later and for them to find peace.
The afterword by Viviana Mazza is one of the most remarkable pieces of writing I have ever read, so yes, this is a book everyone should read.