A Gift From Darkness
Published: January 23rd, 2018
Publisher: Other Press
Received: ARC from Publisher
“The women suffer from all this. The ones whose husbands have been cut down in front of their eyes, and the ones who have survived the horror of being taken prisoner. The worst, they report, is the feeling of helplessness ‘when you are left at the mercy of these bad people and there’s nothing you can do.’ Traumatology teaches us that these terrible impressions will pursue them throughout their whole lives. And the feeling of impotence will stay with them.”
Andrea Hoffmann has taken the charge to tell the story of Patience Ibrahim, a Nigerian woman twice widowed due to the destructive and murderous Boko Haram. Not only was she able to escape twice, but her heart-wrenching tales of murder, rape, pillage and torture can leave you wondering if these stories are something out of a movie. Numerous times I wanted to stop reading, sitting in disbelief at the cruel and inhuman acts committed by Boko Haram (and in the name of religion), but I did not allow myself the pleasure of detaching from what is reality for so many men and women in northern Nigeria.
Patience shares her story of being ripped away from her family, witnessing numerous murders, seeing her first husband murdered and her second husband lost to her forever, and how her own uncle betrayed her entire family due to his allegiance to a psychotic interpretation of the religion of Islam.
While it starts off slow with Andrea giving a lot of background information regarding her work and her calling to tell the story, once she is introduced to Patience that’s when the real story begins. And there is no way you can read the story without feeling compelled to help in some. Even the description of the refugee camp leaves one miffed and wondering why more isn’t being done to help northern Nigerians.
“But the Nigerian camp goes beyond anything my jaded eye has ever seen. An incredible number of people are crammed into a tiny space. They sit on the floor, cook, eat, sleep, flick the flies away. You look in vain for white UN tents, only the camp management has one. The rest of the people are living in wooden shacks they’ve nailed together themselves, or under plastic sheets. Everything is incredibly dirty, and the impression it makes on me is of how squalid conditions are.”
Had I never read this book, I wouldn’t know just how dire the situation is in northern Nigeria. This book should be required reading for any students of global, international or peace relations majors and interests.