Boko Haram Is Hardly a New Phenomenon in Nigeria

TIME

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

The raging Boko Haram terrorist campaign poses the most potent existential threat to Nigeria since the country emerged out of civil war in 1970. Almost daily, insurgents fired up by a strange concoction of Islamist ideology and ascetic inclinations rampage through villages in the Nigerian northeast, killing, burning, and maiming. The Nigerian army’s law-and-order approach is foundering, and the insurgency waxes stronger, spreading to new territories within Nigeria and in the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.

How did it come to this, and how can one situate Boko Haram in a longer historical tapestry of religious revivalism, societal convulsion, social marginality, and colonialism in this region of Nigeria? To understand Boko Haram, one must detour to precolonial…

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