Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
We have all heard of the Chibok girls, not once, not twice but multiple times since the kidnapping occurred. It is an event that shook Nigeria and the world at large. The United Nations, several humanitarian groups, and world leaders did their best to petition for the return of these girls. Several articles and stories have been released about the Chibok girls and what they might have and are still going through. Of all these, Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree, although fictional, might be my absolute favourite.
Adaobi Nwaubani painted a holistic picture of a girl with dreams and hopes that were entirely hers. The story follows a girl like any other, in a family that is nothing special in that they are exactly like so many others, except perhaps in how much love they have for one another. The book begins with the main character, whose name never actually appears at any point throughout the book but is referred to as “Ya Ta” which is Hausa for “my daughter”, going about her normal life which comprises of school, church, her family, and her friends. Her dreams include winning a scholarship to further her education to tertiary level, marrying Success, her pastor’s son, and earning enough to ensure her parents can afford certain comforts and her younger brother, an education.
Adaobi paints vivid pictures of a life that, as a reader, you believe is real. As the book progresses, she artfully weaves in the fear of Boko Haram in a way that most Nigerians can relate to which eventually culminates in the kidnap of the main character and the death of most of her family. Though you know it is inevitable and every step of the way you see it coming, you won’t be able to keep yourself from hoping, praying it does not happen.
This book plays with your emotions in a way that can only be likened to Stockholm syndrome. Bonus points, some of the characters in the book are also portrayed experiencing it so if nothing else, you won’t be alone. The book then goes on to show what living in captivity under Boko Haram might be like. It is realistic and heart-wrenching every step of the way. When it finally ends, you will find yourself breathing a sigh of relief. It is that good. There is no defining moment or climax in this book, it is simply about life and how regardless of how ugly it gets, you have to keep going. It is a story of dreams getting dashed, strengths being tried and people being pushed to hardly conceivable extremes.
This book may not become your all-time favourite but trust me, it will always be a worthy read. It is raw, powerful, and nearly impossible to put down. Give it a shot, you won’t regret it.