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BN Book of the Month: Beneath the Tamarind Tree by Isha Sesay

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We started naming books we enjoyed and think everyone should read as our book of the month back in January. Fiction, memoir, a collection of essays – it didn’t matter. What mattered was that the books taught us something about the world and about ourselves.

In January we shared Tunde Leye‘s Afonja – The Rise, a story set in the historic Ọ̀yọ́ empire and told through the lens of dynamic characters. In February we had Elnathan John‘s Be(com)ing Nigerian – A Guide, which satirises our daily Nigerian life, from politicians to pastors.

We went to Kenya for March, selecting Jackson Biko‘s Drunk, which took us through the streets of cities and small towns in Kenya. April had Ghanaian author Ayesha Harruna Attah‘s novel The Hundred Wells of Salaga, which gave us a glimpse into the lives of women in pre-colonial Ghana.

The Old Drift, described as “the great Zambian novel” and written by Namwali Serpell, was named our Book of the Month for May, and for June – Pride month – we had She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak, which, as the name implies, humanises a much-maligned Nigerian reality.

This month of July, our book of the month is Isha Sesay‘s Beneath the Tamarind Tree.

In April 2014, armed militants invaded Chibok, a small village in northern Nigeria, kidnapping 276 girls from their school. Beneath The Tamarind Tree is a first hand account of the journey of 107 girls, released by their Boko Haram captors. Isha Sesay was one of the journalists who accompanied them back home. Beneath the Tamarind Tree is Isha’s experience during the ordeal.

Taking us right into the heart of Chibok, the book opens our eyes to some of the untold parts of the story, the tardiness of the government’s response to the situation, and the personal lives of the girls whose lives were changed forever.

Beneath the Tamarind Tree is a reminder that this horrific situation happened to our sisters. It is for this reason that BellaNaija selects Beneath the Tamarind Tree as the Book of the Month for July 2019.