By Rahima Gambo
After a string of attacks on schools and universities in north-eastern Nigeria and the highly publicised abduction of hundreds of girls from the town of Chibok, officials closed public schools for two years. Now they are back in these schools picking up the pieces of an education interrupted. They are wearing the same uniforms, sleeping in the same dorm rooms, yet they have changed.
As students remember their experiences living at the forefront of the Boko Haram conflict, their stories often sound like a dark folktale somewhere between the real and the imagined. The act of remembering past traumatic experiences doesn’t fit neatly into a timeframe. Each retelling creates a third space, an alternate reality that is timeless and unresolved.
But beyond this contemporary conflict, the project explores the school site as a concept embedded in Nigerian history as a symbol of the colonial encounter and reflects on the idea of a collective memory that connects the student body and the idealisation of an education system that is falling apart.