CultureGrams: Beyond the Nigerian Schoolgirl Abduction


By now, you likely know that well over 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their school in the village of Chibok by the group Boko Haram and remain missing.

But you probably didn’t know about the story right after it happened, on April 14, because as media commentator Bob Garfield put it this week in On the Media, “The girls were not blond cheerleaders, so initial US coverage of the mass abduction was slight,” though the Nigerian government’s response to the incident (falsely claiming it had rescued most of the girls, then weeks of silence) also contributed to the lack of reporting. It wasn’t until the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls began trending on Twitter and celebrities took up the cause that the US press finally began devoting significant attention to the story.

What you still might not know is that Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group whose name means “Western education is sinful,” has been waging attacks on Nigerians for the last five years, killing almost 4,000 people. Some 1,500 people–half of them civilians–have been killed in Boko Harm-related violence since the beginning of this year alone. These attacks included one carried out on a high school in February in which 59 students died.

In fact, as Nigerian-based freelance reporter Alexis Okeowo told Garfield in an interview this week, even as US and other international correspondents have been in Nigeria covering the schoolgirl abduction, they have not reported on the continuing Boko Haram attacks in northern Nigeria. Okeowo asks “Where were you guys over the years as Boko Haram has waged this campaign of terror? And where are you going to be as it continues? Because this is not ending any time soon, and the girls are only one case of many other instances of horror that is happening in the north.”

Though the US media often ignores African—and many global—stories or covers them only briefly, at CultureGrams, we search out news on every country from a variety of international sources when we do weekly updates to our History sections so that you don’t have to depend on the whims of a celebrity or the success of a hashtag to hear about important events going on in the world around you.

Rachel Ligairi

Rachel Ligairi

Rachel Ligairi

I'm a CultureGrams editor who covers the Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Rachel Ligairi

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