On Friday, April 14, the Religious Freedom Center will host a press conference at the Newseum with Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. This private dialogue session marks the three-year anniversary of the kidnapping.
Journalists will also be able to meet with Helon Habila, author of “The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria.” Born in Nigeria and now an associate professor of creative writing at George Mason University, Habila is the author of three award-winning novels, most recently “Oil on Water,” a haunting look at the human and environmental costs of industrial pollution in the Niger Delta. His first foray into nonfiction follows Boko Haram’s shocking kidnapping of 267 schoolgirls in April 2014. Most of the victims disappeared, but Habila interviewed three survivors and their families, along with security personnel, NGO workers, and other residents of Chibok. His report gives insight into the conditions that led to Boko Haram’s rise and that continue to fuel northern Nigeria’s religious and ethnic clashes.
Habila will be in conversation with Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian human rights lawyer and surrogate father to a few of the escaped girls who now live in the U.S.