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The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria

(Columbia Global Reports)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  251 ratings  ·  67 reviews
On April 14, 2014, 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world's deadliest terrorist group. Most were never heard from again. Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Helon Habila, who grew up in northern Nigeria, returned to Chibok and gained intimate access to the families of the kidnapped to offer a devastating account of th ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 5th 2016 by Columbia Global Reports
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Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was exactly what I wanted. It gives background about the Chibok kidnappings and Boko Haram in a personal up-close way that only journalist writer Helon Habila can. I find almost all reports and news stories about the Chibok girls to be sterile and inconsistent, and the interviews with those involved seem to drip with fear. This is the first time I've really felt like I was getting some truth. Helon travelled to these places and met personally with people and he discusses his journey there a ...more
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Chibok is a poor and neglected town in Nigeria, where much of the population work in agriculture and life was fairly uneventful in this obscure corner of the country, until an event which brought it to the world’s notice. On the 14th April, 2014, members of Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls. Less than fifty managed to jump off the vehicles which they were loaded into. Only one other girl has been rescued. The rest, tragically, are still missing.

Author , Helon Habila, travelled to
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Helon Habila trained as a journalist in Nigeria where he grew up. He is now a celebrated prize-winning novelist residing in Virginia, where he teaches. He’d read the stories of the April 2014 Boko Haram kidnappings of schoolgirls from Chibok and thought that perhaps there were some clues missing. How had this happened and why haven’t the girls been found?

Searching for clues in country, it must be said, sounds terrifying and risky. Boko Haram as an organization has the madness of a wo
Toni Osborne
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria

On 15 April 2014, 267 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in Northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, Mr. Habila shares with us the personal stories of some of the girls who managed to free themselves. “The Chibok Girls” is poignant portraits of everyday Nigerians whose lives have been transformed by extremist forces.

In his chronicle, Nigerian born poet and novelist Helon Habila has written with sensibility an eloq
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not what I expected. I will have to look to other resources for the information that I was seeking.
The turmoil, despair and corruption are rampant and never ending. This book doesn't hold back. Politics and money have nothing to do with the welfare of humans. I'm left dejected at the close of 'The Chibok Girls'.

I was given an eArc of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.
Stephen Clynes
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In 2014 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram. In his short 128 page book, Nigerian born Helon Habila writes about the kidnappings plus Islamist militancy, politics, religion and the culture of life in northern Nigeria.

I found this book quite a shock and it has the same awakening effect on me as an episode of Unreported World, a current affairs documentary series on Channel 4 television at home in the UK.

Helon Habila takes the reader on
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
Other than through the media, I did not know much about the story of the Boko Haram kidnapping of over 250 girls in Chibook, Nigeria. I had hopes that this book would help with some of the details, but was left wanting more...a LOT more.
The author shares his own journey to Chibook, which is informative- the scary checkpoints, the kids carrying weapons and wearing fatigues, the bumpy truck rides. He finds a few people to interview that were present the night of the kidnapping, but doesn't g
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Does a pretty good job explaining key facts about the fight of Nigeria against Boko Haram and how the country and its people are affected by it.
Personal reports, interviews and links to other sources of material regarding the issue. Some reports are pretty bleak, like the father who lost his mind and wandered alone in the forest after his daughter.

Received this book from NetGalley, so thanks to them too.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A few hours read, a few vignettes of a place and time: southern Borno State during the Boko Haram war. A bit of history and perspective on the war, the staccato attacks of Boko Haram and the long, lazy occupations of unpaid military and civilian vigilantes. One of the few written reminders of the diversity of Borno, the Christians and animists who don't practice Islam, for whom Kanuri and Hausa are foreign languages, who bristled at the state-imposed Sharia and felt its weight before Boko Haram ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant and brave book! 4 stars (only because I didn’t like the occasional interjection of history lessons with the account)
This is my first Habila and I can’t wait to read his fiction to determine which style I like best.
This book contained historical lessons on the Boko Haram and it also highlights the discrimination faced by northern Christians in Nigeria, both from the Muslim indigenes (who treat them as second class citizens) and southerners (who ascribe the north to just “H
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Short, quick overview of the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria.... I thought it jumped around a bit but provided some background that was helpful to understand the political climate in the country.
Amie's Book Reviews

I am torn as to how to review this book and what rating to give it. The reason for this is that the title; THE CHIBOK GIRLS is misleading. Why do I think it is misleading? Well, if you read the official description you are lead to believe that author Helon Habila has uncovered new information about the kidnapped girls and has maybe even met with some of them therefore providing readers with new information that no one else has been able to uncover. At least, that is what I believed when I began
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Do you remember the hashtag #bringbackourgirls? It made quite a storm on social media shortly after the 267 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in Nigeria were kidnapped by terrorists from the Boko Haram group in Nigeria. However, the time passed, the fate of the girls is still unknown, but the social media and the world in general got busy with more terror and kidnappings acts taking place all over the world. Helon Habila is going to his native Nigeria, to Chibok, revealing the fine or deep ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Considering the author travelled to Chibok to research this book; and considering he talked to kidnapped girls and their families you'd think the final results would have produced something a little heartier.

I learned nothing in reading this that an hour on WikiPedia wouldn't have taught me.

Which is too bad. Because the author is really good and reading it nice. It just lacked substance.

I just can't justify paying the jacket price of $18.95 to learn nothing of value abou
Rejoice Tapon
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Considering that the author traveled to Chibok Adamawa State to research this book in order to talk to the families of the kidnapped girls, you would think that he would have gotten a lot of interesting information.

The final result should have produced something meatier.

I learned nothing from reading this book that an hour on Wikipedia wouldn't have taught me.

I used to study in GSS Madagali, which is about 146km away from Chibok.
I know exactly where the school is I even
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book free from the publisher via

A soul wrenching account of the disappearance of the Chibok girls, stolen from their school dorm. This book looks into the effect on the survivors, families affected and the community as well as the events that led to this tragedy.
Maura Muller
Disappointing. As others have mentioned, I had high hopes for this book, but I was left feeling that I could have simply read a few past articles in the New York Times and learned more. This author risked his life to travel to such dangerous territory but returned with a book that doesn't seem worth his efforts.
Liliyana Shadowlyn
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A powerful look inside a horrible event, the aftermath, and what led up to it. Reading this feels like you are watching the gut-wrenching events unfold in front of you. It's information that the news never covered, and a story that needs to be told.

Received for review
Rachel Kass
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Such an informational and emotional book. Check out my full review here:
Anna M
May 21, 2019 is currently reading it
Acclaimed Nigerian author Helon Habila takes readers on a journey through a series of insights and recollections of a nation's traumatic event through his thoughtfully written story based on true actions of the past. His novel, The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria is written in “dedication to the 218 Chibok Girls still missing, and to all victims of the Boko Haram insurgency”. Habila grew up in Northern Nigeria later establishing himself as a journalist ...more
Mara Hamm
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 2014, 276 young girls were kidnapped from the Government Chibok Secondary School by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Only a few of the girls were able to escape at the scene, roughly 20 girls were freed, and the rest of them have not been seen from or heard of since they have been abducted.

Helon Habila, the author of The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamic Militancy in Nigeria, is a native Nigerian. He returned to his home country to investigate the kidnappings and
Temilade Adebiyi
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
The 2014 abduction of 276 secondary school girls from the Government College, Chibok by the Boko Haram sect remains a sore subject for many Nigerians. It has inspired hundreds of articles, documentaries, music etc; sparked a political revolution, brought attention to lackadaisical attitude of our federal government and the corruption that is literally threatening to destroy us.

The situation is made even more pathetic by the fact that the bulk of these children are yet to be found 2 y
Robby Horvath
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it
On the 14th of April, 2014, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the world's deadliest terrorist organization, the Boko Haram. This is a great topic to build write a riveting story about, however, the author of The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria failed to bring emotion into a emotion filled topic. The author shied away from telling about the actually kidnappings, but more of the history behind it and what led up to it. Going into reading it, I was expect ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I found this brief title on my public library's "Did You Miss This?" shelf and it immediately took me back to April 2014 when I watched in horror as every news outlet in the nation replayed news of these school children being taken by Boko Haram. I had to pick it up and read it. I know very little of Nigeria, the continent of Africa, or even Boko Haram. I still don't know much. What I have gleaned from this small book tells me Boko Haram is a militant group that attacks mostly targets Christians ...more
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Written as a first-person journalistic essay, Habila provides an overview of the rise of Boko Haram and the circumstances of the schoolgirl kidnappings. Habila travels extensively through Nigeria, reporting on towns and villages that are both situated outside the influence of Boko Haram, and those that are regularly threatened by its tactics. It should be noted that Habila is not attempting to "solve" the fate of the schoolgirls (though he does tell the story of a few who managed to escape) or p ...more
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The adventures of an American professor of Nigerian heritage, as he attempts to investigate the disappearance of 276 girls from a secondary school in Nigeria. This book was most valuable as a toe dip into life in modern day Nigeria, a brief history lesson about the country and the factors that lead to the events of the kidnapping. I loved the additional detail of the towns of Northern Nigeria which enriched the narrative of the events.

As soon as I finished, I wanted to read it again
Durba Sengupta
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story that needed to be told

For people that are familiar with the incidents surrounding the boko haram insurgents, this account provides a chronological outline. For sceptics that continue to propagate that this story is a made up. Habila dispels their arguments with details from interviews with victims and escapees. If you are unfamiliar with this shocking and disheartening story...well here is a piece of truth for you to chew on. Either way the lives of all 219 girls will never be the s
Alice Teets
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This book was a really informative, although short, history of the Boko Haram and how they came to be in Nigeria. It was really less about the kidnapping than a history of the rise of militant Islam in the region, but it was informative. It seemed to be a fairly written piece, discussing how a few zealouts really turned their back on Islamic teachings and why they were able to influence so many followers. A good place to start if you want to learn more about the region, I think.

I was given this
May 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pop-sugar
a very educational piece. It read more like a dissertation than anything else. The title to me is confusing because although it does touch on the Chibok girls, the main focus is on the state of Nigeria and its troubled political and religious environments. There are many issues there that have ties to the causes of the kidnappings and that is what is truly explored in this book.
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Helon Habila was born in Nigeria in 1967. He studied literature at the University of Jos and taught at the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, before moving to Lagos to work as a journalist. In Lagos he wrote his first novel, Waiting for an Angel, which won the Caine Prize in 2001. Waiting for an Angel has been translated into many languages including Dutch, Italian, Swedish, and French.

In 2002, he moved

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“The people copy their rules, just as children ape their parents. Violence is a symptom of a dysfunctional system, where people have no patience for or confidence in due process. The poor don't believe they can get justice from the courts, because usually they can't; the elite know the system is rigged because they rigged it. The ones at the top keep the door shut because they don't want to share the spoils of office. Actual violence, or the thread of it, helps to keep the populace in check, just as poverty does.” 0 likes
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