Boko Haram - How it all started, what it's all about, with John Hare...

Fifty years after independence Northern Nigeria is home to one of the world’s most violent religious groups. Why?


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John Hare is an eyewitness to this process. He worked in this remote north-eastern area of Nigeria for 7 years & was the last District Officer recruited by the British Government.

Between 1957 and 1964 he lived in the Adamawa and Borno Provinces and witnessed first-hand the deteriorating relationship between the local tribes - between Muslim and animist and Christian. He has access to little-known historical records and is able to explain from deep personal experience, how Boko Haram started and how the clash between Christianity and Islam has developed into such a bloody conflict.

This is not something that has just recently happened – rather an evolving process of political and religious development which began many decades before the British colonised Northern Nigeria – a clear pattern stretching from the jihadi movements of the early 19th century, right up to the present day, with roots deep in tribal rivalry, slavery, animism, Christianity and Islam.

John will give details of events which occurred prior to and during his time in the Northern Provinces and which cast light on the way in which Boko Haram has linked up with fundamentalist groups currently active in the Middle East and beyond.

Illustrated with fascinating photographs from his time in Nigeria, John Hare’s talk helps to place a frightening contemporary problem in an historical context.


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John Hare

In 1957 John Hare was the last recruit into the Colonial Administrative Service in Northern Nigeria. He later worked for the BBC and the United Nations Environment Programme. He then established the Wild Camel Protection Society to save the critically endangered wild double-humped camel in Central Asia from extinction. During the past twenty years he has undertaken many journeys into Mongolia and China’s former nuclear test area, Lop Nur, where the wild camel survives.

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, John has received numerous awards for his exploratory and conservation activities, including the Environmental Award from the State Environment Protection Agency of China ; the Ness Award from the Royal Geographical Society; the Lawrence of Arabia Memorial Medal for exploration under extreme hazard by the Royal Society of Asian Affairs. In 2006 the Royal Scottish Geographical Society awarded him the Mungo Park medal for distinguished contributions to exploration. See more of John on his website




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2015Martin Keeley