The Story of Boko Haram


By Cleora Broens

#BringBackOurGirls #BokoHaram #Nigeria #GMABlog

Boko Haram, meaning ‘western education is forbidden’, is a Islamist group based in northeast Nigeria, as well as in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. The estimates of associates differ between one hundred to ten thousand, and the group has been linked to al-Qaeda and the ISIL, which stands for ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’.

Boko Haram has murdered more than five thousand people from July 2009 to June 2014, in attacks mostly taking place in the northeast, north central and central of Nigeria. Deception in the security services, as well as human rights abuses, committed by Boko Haram, have hindered attempts to challenge the anarchy.

Boko Haram captured two hundred and seventy six girls from Chibok, Borno in April 2014. More than fifty of the girls were able to flee, but the remaining have still not been released. Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, stated that his intentions with the girls were to sell them into slavery. The incident led to Boko Haram receiving global scrutiny, including from Michelle Obama, the wife of the US president, and the campaign #BringBackOurGirls.

In January 2015, Boko Haram took over Baga, using it as a military base. The Islamist movement burned Baga down and murdered the civilians. It has been estimated that two thousand or more have been murdered, but the death toll of the killings has been overlooked, by the Ministry of Defence, due to their belief that the death toll has been overstated. They instead stated that the amount of civilians murdered was roughly a hundred and fifty. One should note that Nigeria has frequently been accused of under rating the death tolls, in an attempt to lessen the threat of Boko Haram.

Boko Haram, also in January 2015, besieged the Cameroon military base in Kolofata. The Government reported that at least a hundred and forty three militants were murdered. On 18 January 2015, Boko Haram members took over two Tourou villages in Cameroon, burning houses, murdering civilians and capturing between sixty to eighty people, fifty of which are children between the ages of ten to fifteen.

It is of great importance that we talk about what’s happening in Nigeria. The people are suffering and are constantly afraid of what’s to come in the future. Luckily, elections are taking place, where Goodluck Jonathan is running for presidency. The elections took place yesterday (on 28 March).

Whoever becomes president, I strongly hope that Boko Haram will defeated by them.



Cleora Broens is a human rights activist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a Social Science degree from Monash University Australia, majoring in International Relations, as well as Communication and Media Studies. She tweets at @cabro13

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