Isha Sesay’s first book Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram was published by Harper Collins on July 9, 2019.
On the night of April 14, 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Boko Haram, an extremist terrorist organization based in North-Eastern Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. 57 of the girls escaped on that fateful evening. Since then, there have been efforts to release the 112 girls still missing locally as well as in the international sphere.
In 2016, a book looking at this situation was penned by author and academic Helon Habila called The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings & Islamic Militancy in Nigeria. In it, the US-based Nigerian looked at the mass kidnapping and its effects on that part of the world.
A new book, Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram, has been written by former CNN journalist Isha Sesay on the same topic. It has the following blurb;
“In the early morning of April 14, 2014, the militant Islamic group Boko Haram violently burst into the small town of Chibok, Nigeria, and abducted 276 girls from their school dorm rooms. From poor families, these girls were determined to make better lives for themselves, but pursuing an education made them targets, resulting in one of the most high-profile abductions in modern history. While the Chibok kidnapping made international headlines, and prompted the #BringBackOurGirls movement, many unanswered questions surrounding that fateful night remain about the girls’ experiences in captivity, and where many of them are today.
In “Beneath the Tamarind Tree,” Isha Sesay tells this story as no one else can. Originally from Sierra Leone, Sesay led CNN’s Africa reporting for more than a decade, and she was on the front lines when this story broke. With unprecedented access to a group of girls who made it home, she follows the journeys of Priscilla, Saa, and Dorcas in an uplifting tale of sisterhood and survival.
Sesay delves into the Nigerian government’s inadequate response to the kidnapping, exposes the hierarchy of how the news gets covered, and synthesizes crucial lessons about global national security. She also reminds us of the personal sacrifice required of journalists to bring us the truth at a time of growing mistrust of the media. Beneath the Tamarind Tree is a gripping read and a story of resilience with a soaring message of hope at its core, reminding us of the ever-present truth that progress for all of us hinges on unleashing the potential of women.
You can get a copy of the book here.