Nigeria's radical Islamist sect Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in a reign of terror that has lasted for years. It has claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day bombings in Madalla, the United Nations House bombing, the attacks at College of Agriculture, Gujba, the Abuja Police Headquarters bombing, and the assassinations of outspoken clerics Ibrahim Abdullahi and Liman Bana. On October 23, 2015, the group bombed two mosques in Nigeria, killing many moslems.
How It Began Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Mohammad Yusuf as a social movement. The Nigerian government began a crackdown on the group in response to reports that it was stockpiling weapons. In 2009 police took Yusuf into custody.
His death sparked anger against the Nigerian authorities and radicalized many in the country's north. Boko Haram transmuted into a Jihadist group the same year. Abubakar Shekau emerged as its new leader. He launched a violent and sustained campaign against the country and its citizens.
Boko Haram demands Sharia rule in the north and an end to education and what it terms "Western values". The group operates in cells and has splinter factions. It frequently targets schools.
The Missing On April 14th 2014, three hundred schoolgirls converged in Chibok for final year examinations. Chibok is in Borno State, a Boko Haram stronghold.
A large convoy of men in military uniform arrived in the school and informed the girls that they were there to direct them to safety. The girls were ordered into trucks. Although a few dozen children managed to jump off the trucks to safety, the rest were carted away into forests.
They had been kidnapped. Abubakar Shekau posted a video online in which he informed the world that the girls would be treated as slaves.
The incident sparked worldwide outrage and condemnation. There were protests in Nigeria and on London streets. Campaigns were launched on social networks. Other countries pledged support.
Waiting for Government Goodluck Jonathan was Nigeria's president in 2014. He acknowledged the Chibok kidnappings after two weeks of silence. His wife, Patience, initially dismissive of the incident as a 'staged affair', vowed to join in street protests even if she were 'shot'.
Why the delayed response to the kidnappings from the government at the time? Saratu X, Team Leader of the Testimonials Archives Project, has a theory. TAP documents the lives of individuals affected by violence in Nigeria's north-east. Saratu did not want her interviewer to reveal her surname. "This is not the first time abductions have happened," she says. "This has been going on for half a decade. Boko Haram have had radical elements, which grew in prominence - and boldness - over the past three years, and it has been abducting girls ever since. If you read Human Rights Watch and Amnesty reports, you'll read testimonies from young girls who talk about their ordeals. I'm sure our government knew this has been happening for years. So my guess is they figured: 'What's one more?' They probably thought it would blow over."
Almost two years have passed since the girls were abducted. They have not been recovered.
First published in May 2014. Updated for this blog.