In a book review published late last year, Professor Jacob Udo Jacob highlights the vision and courageous leadership which the American University of Nigeria demonstrated in admitting the Chibok schoolgirls.
Enrolled in AUN’s New Foundation School, the young women from Chibok are presently undergoing an intensive pre-college preparatory program, which integrates academic and counseling contents. Twelve of them, from among the initial lucky 15 who escaped from the kidnappers and joined AUN in August 2014, have gained admission into undergraduate programs, and are enrolled into programs as diverse as Law, Accountancy, Communications & Multimedia Design, Business Administration, and Natural & Environmental Science (Biomedical concentration).
In reviewing Hilary Matfess’s book, Boko Haram: Wives, Weapons & Witnesses (published in the Journal of Politics, Religion & Ideology, Volume 19, 2018 - Issue 3), Professor Jacob writes that “the ‘Chibok girls’ became the face of an ugly insurgency.”
“While the Nigerian government and the international community were still figuring out how to negotiate the release of the girls, Boko Haram was actively recruiting and deploying female suicide bombers across northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.”
Continuing, the Professor of Communications writes that “Hilary Matfess, a Ph.D. scholar at Yale University brings a totally different perspective to the conversation. [Her book] challenges the narrative that women are unwilling, forced, and hapless participants in the insurgency . . . the book argues that Boko Haram's systematic exploitation of women to advance its tactical and operational interests is only half the story. Women, Matfess observes, have chosen to actively support the group through various roles.”
Professor Jacob further points out other two significant contributions of Matfess’s work to understanding the nexus of religious radicalization, traditional practices, and the exploitation of female sexuality under the Boko Haram insurgency: “the gendered, sexualized, and ideological power dynamics that underlie Boko Haram group membership, and the radicalized sense of belonging it confers” and “the perils of return and reintegration of women into their communities, after they are rescued.” Most communities, Professor Jacob argues, “are unwilling to accept back women who had associations with Boko Haram.”
But that attitude is changing. By committing academic and support resources to empowering the young Chibok women and mentoring them through intensive educational development, personal healing, and community reintegration, the American University of Nigeria, Africa’s Development University, is offering its proud young students from Chibok a clean sheet to rewrite their history.
Please read Professor Jacob’s review here:
Reported by Togor Passa