Conflict & Justice

Watch: It takes 'boko' to fight Boko Haram

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Credit:

Skyler Reid, Erin Conway-Smith


Editor's note: This article is part of a GlobalPost in-depth series on Boko Haram. See also, Boko Haram: They burned our houses, they burned our food; Food's running out in Nigeria's refugee settlements; and These are the real victims of Boko Haram.

YOLA, Nigeria — “Boko” in the Hausa language means “sham,” or “fraud.” “Haram in Arabic means “forbidden.” In common usage, “Boko Haram” has come to mean “Western education is foridden.”

That's turned school into a powerful symbol of resistance here.

"Most of the places where Boko Haram is strong, education is not very strong," says imam Dauda Bello. "To survive now you need this 'boko.' You need the Western education."

Boko Haram destroyed the homes of the displaced before being pushed out by the Nigerian military. Even though the towns are freed, there's nothing to return to. So displaced educators are setting up schools wherever they can, even when books and other essentials are in short supply.

"If you didn't train your children in the modern situation, it means you did nothing," says Bitrus Thakuma, principal at one school for IDPs.

Editor's note: This article is part of a GlobalPost in-depth series on Boko Haram. See also, Boko Haram: They burned our houses, they burned our food; Food's running out in Nigeria's refugee settlements; and These are the real victims of Boko Haram.