The Young Survivors of Boko Haram

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Photo: David Mbiyu /
Media Outlet: The New Yorker

In Nigeria, what happened on the night of April 14th, 2014, can seem like a fever dream, a surreal nightmare that, as soon as you wake up, lingers uncomfortably, poking at the edges of your waking life. In the early hours of the 15th, members of the Boko Haram terrorist group arrived at a girls’ boarding school in a hamlet called Chibok, in the northeastern state of Borno. Chibok residents saw them coming and warned the military hours before the attack, but no help came. By the time Boko Haram was done at the school, they had taken more than three hundred girls, looted food and supplies, and lit the place on fire. 

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Alexis Okeowo was a Class of 2016 & 2017 New America Fellow. She is the author of A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa and a staff writer for the New Yorker.