Five years on, with over half of the girls still in captivity, the news circle has moved on but the UK-born former CNN reporter, who earned a Peabody award for the coverage of the schoolgirl kidnapping has now put her experiences covering the schoolgirls into a book, Beneath the Tamarind Tree.
The book picks up where the viral BringOurGirlsBack hashtag left off years ago. ‘’It is something of a gut punch when i learned, two years into the Chibok girls’ ordeal, that bosses at CNN do not remain exercised by the story. The news cycle moves on. The United States presidential election seizes the media’s attention. The hashtag that pricked our collective conscience #BringBackOurGirls all but melts away. Some Nigerians aren’t much interested either. They wonder aloud if the kidnapping is a “hoax,” designed to portray their country in a bad light. ‘’
The last video of the girls released was January 2018, a 20-minute unverified clip that showed 14 girls on camera and a voice saying they would not return. The government may have more information, but part of the problem is there's a kind of information blackout. The last major statement made by the government was that they don't know whom to negotiate with because Boko Haram has split into factions.
Nigerian government has welcomed the book with reservations. A statement by the President's Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu in Abuja noted that the book was hampered by misrepresentations.
"In stitching together her compelling portrait of this unfortunate yet paradoxical incident, Isha, this terrific journalist, risks a negative judgment of history on a book that is a farrago of misrepresentation."
The 43-year-old Journalist who now a run a girl’s advocacy charity W.E Can Lead said she wrote the book to humanize these girls. ‘’They've stayed nothing more than a headline, and I wanted to show that girls all over the world have hopes and dreams, inner lives, ambitions, visions for the future.’’