The Economist interview on Boko Haram

By | October 11, 2012

The Africa editor of The Economist talks to Lizzy Donnelly of Chatham House on Boko Haram. I mostly agree with her, mainly because she made sure to express the uncertainties about Boko Haram, the disagreement among ‘Nigeria watchers’ and ‘analysts’ on the group, and the fact that there is so much that is not known about them. But she hit the sweet spot when she pointed out that oil wealth likely led to the current state of Northern Nigeria – high unemployment etc. etc. – and that the north used to be a strong centre of commerce in West Africa. She didn’t elaborate on this in the interview so I’m going to do it in one sentence:

Part of the north was on the famous trans-sahara trade route; up until the 1970s there was a strong textile industry (there was a minor surge sometime later, but that is mostly gone now); and in the 80s when I was in primary school, the pyramids of groundnut from the north were highly visible parts of our Social Studies textbooks (pyramids of groundnut in the north, oil palm in the south-east and cacao in the south-west).

Just so one is not misunderstood, it should be added that oil wealth led to the current state of the economy of the whole of the country, not just the north.

Give it a listen, especially if you need a brief introduction to Boko Haram.

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