Mass kidnappings of children in Nigeria have been making global headlines recently and this has been hard to watch for a young woman who was abducted in an infamous attack on a school in Chibok.
Naomi Adamu is quiet. As she talks she rarely makes eye contact, keeping her voice low and steady.
Upon meeting her, few would suspect she survived one of the most harrowing experiences a young woman could go through. But, her timid demeanour belies an extraordinary strength of character.
Naomi, 24 at the time of the attack, was the oldest of more than 270 students from the Chibok Government Secondary School for Girls abducted by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in April 2014.
Her classmates referred to her as Maman Mu, Our Mother. Her education had been interrupted by health problems as a child.
She is now the main protagonist in a new book on the so-called “Chibok girls”.
‘Christmas message to my father’
Bring Back Our Girls by journalists Joe Parkinson and Drew Hinshaw is based on hundreds of interviews with the abducted students, their families and others connected to their story.
The book explores the girls’ time in captivity in detail, and shows how the social media campaign that made them famous also made it harder to secure their release. Their fame had made them precious commodities, too valuable to let go.
During the three years she spent with Boko Haram, Naomi refused to bow down to pressure to marry one of their fighters, or convert to Islam.
Instead she and another classmate wrote secret diaries in textbooks they were given to write Islamic verses. She kept them hidden in a makeshift pouch tied to her leg.
“We decided that we should write down our stories,” she tells me, “so that if one of us got to escape, we could let people know what happened to us”.