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#BringBackOurGirls: Reflections on the Chibok Girls, Systemic Gender-Based Violence, and the Healing Power of Literature

September 16, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

This is a past event. You can view the recording here. The audio transcript is available here.

Panelists: Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, Abdulbasit Kassim, Titilope Sonuga, Mona Eltahawy

Moderator: Ainehi Ejieme Edoro



This special event is part of The Decade Project, a series of creative and intellectual explorations designed to celebrate Brittle Paper’s 10-year anniversary and the evolution of African literature since 2010. The creative writers, journalists, and academics on the panel will explore the kidnap of the Chibok girls, an event that defined the decade in many ways and that inspired a collection of really trenchant writing. By revisiting the event, panelists will discuss its significance, how the story has continued to reverberate through the years, and how documenting the systemic violence inherent to the girls’ kidnapping can offer possibilities for healing.


Titilope Sonuga is a writer and performer whose work has graced stages and pages across the globe. Through her practice, she grasps for moments of tenderness and persistent joy at the intersection of blackness and womanhood. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Down to Earth (2011), Abscess (2014) and This Is How We Disappear (2019) and has released two spoken word albums, Mother Tongue (2011) and Swim (2019). Titilope is the writer of three plays, The Six; an intergenerational exploration of womanhood, Naked; a one-woman play and Ada The Country, a musical. She has facilitated numerous youth and adult poetry workshops locally and internationally. Her writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovak. www.titilope.ca www.twitter.com/deartitilope www.instagram.com/titilope

In This Is How We Disappear, Titilope Sonuga moves deftly from narrative to lyric, from melancholy to a fierce joy, from ethical negotiations to fierce resistance, from exploration of gender and power, and family intimacies, to small yet poignant and often startling moments of lucidity, all set to the unique music of her style and language. Strong, important and moving. – Chris Abani, Sanctificum and Hands Washing Water Titilope Sonuga’s collection depicts, with daring grace, the often brutal and fevered journey from girlhood to womanhood. Opening with the Chibok school kidnappings in her native Nigeria, Sonuga’s poetry employs itself as cartographer of survival, mapping out the true lineage of resilience and joy–the defiant matriarchs of her bloodline, “blooming on barren land. – Rachel McKibbens, Blud, Pink Elephant and Into the Dark & Emptying Field



Abdulbasit Kassim is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Religion Rice University and a Visiting Doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Islamic Thought in Africa at Northwestern University. His primary field of research is Islam and Africana Studies.

His research focuses on the Intellectual and Social History of Africa (with emphasis on Islam in Western and Central Sudanic Africa), History of Islamic Thought, Africa and African Diaspora Religions, Islam and Race in America, Arabic-Ajami Codicology and Textual Anthropology, Africology and Postcolonial Studies, Gender and Sexuality in Muslim Societies, and Religion in International Relations. Abdulbasit’s first book, The Boko Haram Reader: From Nigerian Preachers to the Islamic State (co-edited with Michael Nwankpa) was published by Hurst and Oxford University Press in 2018.
Twitter – @scholarakassi1



Adaobi Tricia Nwaubaniis a novelist, journalist, and essayist. Based in Abuja, Nigeria, she is the first contemporary African writer to launch a global career while fully domiciled in her home country.

Her debut novel, I Do Not Come to You by Chance,

won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Africa), a 2010 Betty Trask First Book award, was a finalist for the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, and was named by the Washington Post as one of the Best Books of the Year. Her debut Young Adult novel, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, based on dozens of interviews with women and girls kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram, was published by HarperCollins in September 2018. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree won the 2018 Raven Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment, was named as one of the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, and is a Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2019 selection.

Nwaubani’s journalism focuses on underreported humanitarian issues. Her reportage and essays have appeared in scores of publications, including The New Yorker, the New York Times, and The Guardian. She writes a monthly column for the BBC’s ‘Letter from Africa’, also broadcast on the Focus on Africa radio programme. She was a location producer for the BBC/HBO documentary feature film, ‘Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram’, and a super stringer for the Reuters Foundation. She was a recipient of the 2019 Carter Journalism Institute’s Reporting Award.

Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning columnist and international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism. She is based in Cairo and New York City. She is the author of “Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution,” released April 2015, and is a contributor to the New York Times opinion pages. Her commentaries have appeared in several other publications and she is a regular guest analyst on various television and radio shows. During the 18-day revolution that toppled Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, she appeared on most major media outlets, leading the feminist website Jezebel to describe her as “The Woman Explaining Egypt to the West.” Newsweek magazine named Ms Eltahawy one of its “150 Fearless Women of 2012”, Time magazine featured her along with other activists from around the world as its People of the Year and Arabian Business magazine named her one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women.

Before she moved to the U.S. in 2000, Ms Eltahawy was a news reporter in the Middle East for many years, including almost six years as a Reuters correspondent and she reported for various media from Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia and China.


September 16, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm