In Bid to Boost Its Profile, ISIS Turns to Africa’s Militants

In some places like northeast Nigeria, the Islamic State effectively controls its local affiliate, the Islamic State in West Africa, and has provided it with trainers, expertise and financing, according to research by the International Crisis Group. But researchers say the Islamic State maintains much looser ties to other militant groups like the insurgency in Mozambique, which remains a largely homegrown movement born of local grievances.

For decades there, impoverished locals had watched as elites in the capital plundered the resource-rich region of Cabo Delgado, along the Indian Ocean, which has served as a hub for illegal timber as well as drug and ivory smuggling.

Then in 2009, one of the world’s largest known ruby deposits was discovered in the province, and two years later, oil companies uncovered a natural gas deposit worth tens of billions of dollars. In a sudden — and often violent — stroke, speculators flocked to the area, locals were forced off their land and some small-scale miners were beaten and killed.

By the time the nascent insurgency launched its first attacks in 2017, targeting police stations and local government leaders, it had widespread appeal among petty traders at the ports and disenchanted youths, local researchers say.

The violent crackdown from the Mozambican military, which was implicated in serious abuses against civilians, may have also helped the insurgency — known locally as Al-Sunna wa Jama’a — gain more traction with locals.

But over the past year, the nature of the war has changed. The militant group has destroyed entire towns, displacing 670,000 people, killing at least 2,000 civilians and kidnapping scores of others, according to human rights and humanitarian organizations, and the U.S. State Department.

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More Than 1,800 Prisoners Break Out of Jail in Nigeria

DAKAR, Senegal — The Nigerian authorities say they are searching for about 1,800 inmates who escaped from a prison aided by heavily armed gunmen in the southeastern corner of the country, where anti-government separatists have long been active.

The authorities laid blame for the jailbreak on a rebel group that promotes the decades-old cause of secession for Nigeria’s southeastern corner, popularly known as Biafra.

The escapes came as security has been declining in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, where kidnapping has become rife and the army has been deployed to respond to security threats, including terrorism and banditry, in almost every state.

Prison officials said that early on Monday morning, men armed with sophisticated weapons arrived at a prison in Owerri, in southeastern Imo State. They exchanged fire with security personnel, according to prison officials, and then used explosives to blast their way into the prison yard.

Nigeria’s security services have launched a search operation to recapture the inmates. They put the number of escapees at 1,844.

Prison officials said in a statement that they were “appealing to the good citizens of Imo State and indeed Nigerians to volunteer useful intelligence that will facilitate the recovery effort.”

They said all officers at other prisons should “remain vigilant at this trying moment in our history,” suggesting concern about further prison breaks.

A few prisoners were trickling back into custody, accompanied by their relatives or lawyers, Francis Enobore, a spokesman for the prison system in Nigeria, said in a WhatsApp exchange. Thirty-five inmates refused to leave when the jailbreak happened, he said.

The police said that the attackers were members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a secessionist group that has been banned in Nigeria since 2017 and is designated as a “militant terrorist organization” by the government.

But a spokesperson for the Indigenous People of Biafra denied that the group — or its paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network — were involved.

“E.S.N. is in the bush chasing terrorists and have no business with the said attacks,” the spokesperson, Emma Powerful, said in a statement. “It is not our mandate to attack security personnel or prison facilities.”

There were no casualties among the police, who repelled an attack on the armory at the prison, according to Frank Mba, a police spokesman.

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On Easter, Pope France Urges Universal Access to Coronavirus Vaccines

Pope Francis delivered his annual “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the City and to the World”) Easter message to a small group of the faithful inside St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, while coronavirus pandemic prohibitions kept the usual audience of about 70,000 pilgrims away from St. Peter’s Square for a second year.

The pope delivered the message after presiding over Easter Mass in the presence of about 200 worshipers.

Francis spoke of the economic and social hardships that many people, and especially the poor, are experiencing because of the pandemic, which has worsened recently in Italy and much of Europe. He also addressed the continuing armed conflicts, unrest and increased military spending in Myanmar, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria and other regions and nations.

As he has in the past, the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics called on the international community “in a spirit of global responsibility” to ensure that everyone has access to vaccines, which he called “an essential tool” in the fight against the pandemic. Delivery delays had to be overcome to “facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,” Francis said.

He called on all governments to look after the many people who have lost jobs and experienced economic hardship because of the pandemic, as well as those who lack “adequate social protection.”

“The pandemic has, unfortunately, dramatically increased the number of the poor and the desperation of thousands of people,” he said.

The pope also noted the difficulties of the young, “forced to go long periods without attending school or university or spending time with their friends.” He acknowledged the children who had written meditations for the torchlit Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday, held this year in front of the Basilica instead of the Colosseum, that spoke of loneliness and grief stemming from the pandemic.

“The risen Christ is hope for all who continue to suffer from the pandemic, both the sick and those who have lost a loved one,” Francis said

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Myanmar’s Bloodshed Reveals a World That Has Changed, and Hasn’t

Government-sponsored massacres became less frequent too. But a wave in the 1990s were mostly in countries that, like Myanmar, had histories of civil war, weak institutions, high poverty rates and politically powerful militaries — Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others.

Though they largely failing to stop those killings as they happened, world leaders and institutions like the United Nations built systems to encourage democracy and avert future atrocities.

Myanmar, a pariah state that had sealed itself off from the world until reopening in 2011, didn’t much benefit from those efforts.

The country also missed out on a global change in how dictatorship works.

A growing number of countries have shifted toward systems where a strongman rises democratically but then consolidates power. These countries still hold elections and call themselves democracies, but heavily restrict freedoms and political rivals. Think Russia, Turkey or Venezuela.

“Repression in the last couple of years has actually gotten worse in dictatorships,” Dr. Frantz said. But large-scale crackdowns are rarer, she added, in part because “today’s dictators are getting savvier in how they oppress.”

Only 20 years ago, 70 percent of protest movements demanding democracy or systemic change succeeded. But that number has since plummeted to a historic low of 30 percent, according to a study by Erica Chenoweth of Harvard University.

Much of the change, Dr. Chenoweth wrote, came through something called “authoritarian learning.”

New-style dictators were wary of calling in the military, which might turn against them. And mass violence would shatter their democratic pretensions. So they developed practices to frustrate or fracture citizen movements: jailing protest leaders, stirring up nationalism, flooding social media with disinformation.

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16 Global Design Concepts for an Unpredictable Future

Julie LaskyLila Allen and

The challenges of the past year gave designers every reason to recede into the shadows, but creativity won’t be denied.

If anything, they are finding inspiration in global upheaval. From hundreds of possibilities, here are just a few examples we selected of projects begun or realized despite closed borders, disrupted supply chains and economic collapse.

Designers are recycling the rubble from Mexico City’s streets, for example, creating play spaces so Beirut’s children can find comfort in a city ripped apart by an explosion and proposing textiles as a building material to replace environmentally cruel concrete. More than just surmounting challenges, many are looking ahead to a greener, healthier and more equitable world.

Dadaï, a Thai, Vietnamese and dim sum restaurant that opened in August in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, takes its inspiration from the avant-garde Dada art movement — or at least a 21st-century Japanese interpretation of it.

A chevron, or zigzag, pattern covers the walls, floor and ceiling. Arched bays are filled with classical-style nude statues that look as if they’ve been ensnared in webs of washi tape. And at the center of the dining room, angled vertiginously over the bar, is a giant photographic portrait of a woman interrupted by collaged smears of color.

Located in the new, fashion-centric Miyashita Park retail development, the restaurant’s design, by Yasumichi Morita of the aptly named Tokyo studio Glamorous, makes no obvious concessions to a post-pandemic world. (Japan’s self-described “state of emergency” ended on March 21.)

glamorous.co.jp

Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona designs a self-sufficient structure aimed at reducing the effects of climate change. But the class of 2019-2020 chose to take on another global crisis by imagining an architectural response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had two crises at the same time,” said Vicente Guallart, a director of the master’s program in advanced ecological buildings and biocities. “And the question was what we can learn about that.”

Over five months and under strict quarantine conditions, Mr. Guallart and his co-director Daniel Ibáñez led the group of 17 students in constructing an ecological wood cabin, known as the Voxel, a structure designed with everything one might need to quarantine for 14 days. The design was executed with just 40 pine trees, all harvested less than a mile from the construction site in Barcelona’s Collserola Natural Park. It also includes solar panels, independent battery storage and a rainwater collection and gray-water recycling system.

The roughly 130-square-foot cabin, which rises almost 14 feet, now stands nearly camouflaged among the same pines used to construct it. valldaura.net

17th-century home near Montpellier in southern France with a newly frescoed ceiling in his 250-square-foot bedroom.

The fresco’s single-named artist, Rochegaussen, had worked with Mr. Yovanovitch previously on a restaurant interior in London (he painted cutlery and cookware on a field of cobalt over the chef’s table). Given carte blanche for the bedroom, Rochegaussen arranged woodland animals in his signature energetic line — a motif Mr. Yovanovitch described as “a joyful Mediterranean dance.” The creatures were inspired by fauna from a Provençal forest and include boar, snakes and owls. The designer said that a refreshed environment helped him stay inspired, especially in a period of isolation. And, he added, “there’s something so special about looking up from bed and seeing a painting.” pierreyovanovitch.com, rochegaussen.com

branch institution in Tianjin welcomed its inaugural class of graduate students to a campus designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Located about an hour outside of Beijing, the new 350,000-square-foot complex began construction in 2017 and features performance halls, rehearsal rooms and teaching studios, connected by a ground-level lobby that is open to the public. Expansive windows offer visitors a view into the educational and creative processes.

In China, “there’s still a sense of fascination and curiosity with Western music,” said Charles Renfro, the partner in charge of the project, noting that the building was designed to be a teaching aid for both students and the community.

As the building neared completion in early 2020, Mr. Renfro said he spent many evenings viewing video walk-throughs, trusting that the firm’s partners in China were meeting the precise specifications.

tianjinjuilliard.edu.cn


HMC Architects, and his colleagues recently completed a speculative design for a mixed-used project on the Lekki peninsula near Lagos, Nigeria. This relatively sparsely populated area in a region of more than 21 million people is being readied to accommodate millions more in the coming years.

Approached by an environmentally minded local developer who is seeking to acquire 400 acres on the peninsula, the architects envisioned a “forest city” with abundant greenery cleansing the air and a narrow street grid that allows breezes to slip past and passively cool buildings. Rain in the monsoon season would fill basins in parks and gardens. Shaded houses would have communal courtyards and reclaim the climate-responsive earthen materials and decorative patterns of precolonial people like the Yoruba.

hmcarchitects.com

an estimated 6,000 buildings, including more than 150 schools. This left Etienne Bastormagi, Sandra Richani and Nada Borgi, local architects and urban planners, wondering how they could help their city as children prepare to return to class.

Their Let’s Play initiative, will rebuild playgrounds at six schools affected by the explosion, with help from other architects and volunteers. Construction on the first, at École Secondaire des Filles de la Charité school in the Achrafieh district, just began.

The public-private initiative also reconsiders what a playground can be, incorporating materials, large-scale objects and landscapes that can be experienced or manipulated in more than one way. Rather than jungle gyms, swing sets or slides, the spaces will have colorful platforms, canopies and pathways that encourage directionless play. Such ambiguities are meant to promote experimentation and social interaction outside of the classroom.

The team also hopes that these new ways to play will help children confront the traumas of 2020, blast and coronavirus pandemic alike, by allowing them to feel safe again in their city. “The therapy effect is not just for the kids,” Mr. Bastormagi added. “I think it starts with us.” instagram.com/lets_play_initiative

Safdie Architects, the hospital opened in January with its more than half a million square feet (and more to come) oriented toward courtyards, gardens and a bucolic lake.

According to Sean Scensor, the project’s lead architect, greenery even determines how visitors move through the building: The main pedestrian corridor parallels a bamboo garden, and five wings stretch perpendicularly from this spine to carve out lush courtyards that open onto a lake. A “healing garden” accessible from the oncology department offers sanctuary in a grove of Indian lilac, red and white frangipani trees and scarlet-blossomed royal poinciana.

Visitors also can steal away to a glass-walled chapel tucked into a bamboo enclosure. The goal, Mr. Scensor said, was to avoid “institutional anonymity” in favor of a “new kind of hospital: highly efficient but inherently humane.” chsm.com


Yinka Ilori, a British-Nigerian artist, has spent the last year designing and installing affirmation-laced murals throughout the city — like one in which bubblegum-pink letters announce “Love always wins” against a backdrop suggestive of ice cream cones.

Mr. Ilori recently extended this “theme of positivity,” as he has called it, to table linens, pillows, rugs and socks sold through his website and a few retailers. The latest designs include bone china mugs and plates emblazoned with his chirpy slogans. This venture compensates for “a loss of projects during the pandemic,” he said. And then some. The line has proved so successful that he has hired additional staff members to manage it into a post-Covid future. Mug 45 pounds, or about $62; plate £70, or about $97. yinkailori.com

Shark Tank”) with his first commercial product: a lamp called Lumio that opens like a book. In October, Mr. Gunawan introduced on Kickstarter a second object that similarly trades in the thrill of the unexpected. Teno is a bowl-shaped sculpture, five inches in diameter, with a jagged golden scar — a reference to the Japanese art of repair called kintsugi. Crack open the bowl, and light pours out (it can be increased or dimmed with a tap). Open the sculpture fully, and it becomes a portable Bluetooth speaker.

hellolumio.com/collections/teno

MT Objects is a ceramics studio that turns out singular pieces referencing local craft traditions and the architectural splendor and battered infrastructure of its home base, Mexico City, and beyond. Thanks to a masked and socially distant pair of artisans employed by the studio, operations have continued throughout the pandemic, said Tony Moxham, a co-founder with Mauricio Paniagua.

In one recent series, slip-cast vessels were drizzled with black glaze in imitation of the tar used by the Totonac people who occupied what is now the state of Veracruz to represent “the moisture, fertility and darkness of the underworld,” Mr. Moxham said. Another collection, described as “brutalist,” is cast from sidewalk rubble and streaked with traditional colonial lead-based glazes from the western state of Michoacán.

“We wanted to create something that was very different from what everyone else was doing,” Mr. Moxham said. “And in Mexico City, almost any sidewalk you walk down has bits of broken concrete.” Prices range from $1,000 to $5,000 per piece. ceramicalamejor.mx/mt-objects

Aïssa Dione’s 2020 collection of textiles carries the vibrant colors and traditional designs of Senegalese handweaving, though reimagined in various sizes and with fibers like raffia, cotton and viscose. The fabrics are produced in Ms. Dione’s workshop in Rufisque, a town outside of Dakar, where she employs nearly 100 Senegalese weavers who work on looms. They are then sold to luxury interior design companies to cover sofas, armchairs and windows in homes around the world.

Ms. Dione’s 2020 collection also continues the textile designer’s nearly 30-year commitment to revitalize the craft and her continued focus on cultivating raw materials from Senegal, rather than importing them. Working locally and small helped her during a year when the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the global supply chain.

It also gave Ms. Dione a chance to develop a client database, organize photos of past work and shoot a film that captures her weavers’ process. “We had time to sit down and develop things we had no time to do,” she said. aissadionetissus.com

DeMuro Das, an interior design studio near New Delhi, unusual materials are a calling card. It has topped a coffee table in unakite, a speckled, metamorphic rock, and lined a cabinet in koto, a West African hardwood. More recently, the founders, Brian DeMuro and Puru Das, tried wrapping a low cabinet with the parchmentlike substance Carta, lending the piece a pretty, mottled surface, like asphalt after a rainstorm.

demurodas.com


Pirjo Haikola, a designer in Melbourne, has 3-D-printed coral reefs that are on view at the art and design triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria.

ngv.vic.gov.au

berlinerfestspiele.de

Anna Aagaard Jensen, a Danish artist, and a wig-like lamp by Laurids Gallée, an Austrian-born designer. The lamp is part of a lighting collection, curated by the Brussels dealer Victor Hunt, titled, appropriately enough, “The Lights at the End of the Tunnel.” May 28 to 30. collectible.design

Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm and the curator of a show about the banquet that revels in bespoke table settings, secret menus, eye-popping floral arrangements and glossy evening wear. Timed to open with the — ultimately canceled — 2020 event, it is fully installed and ready for visitors whenever entry is deemed safe.

The show reveals the banquet as a stage for perfectionism — a chance to source the ultimate raspberry for a dessert or prepare the most challenging potato dish.

But it also highlights modest gestures, like the time in 2018 when Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden, recycled the Nina Ricci gown her mother, Queen Silvia, wore to the event in 1995.

“She looked fantastic in it,” Ms. Ahlvik said, though the princess is taller than her mother. “We were all wondering how she did it.” nobelprize.org

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Kidnapping Schoolchildren in Nigeria Becomes Big Business

KADUNA, Nigeria—The kidnap for ransom business is booming across northern Nigeria, and schoolchildren are its hottest commodity.

Just before midnight on March 11 gunmen barged into a school around 300 yards from a military training college in Kaduna state and seized dozens of students from their dormitories. It took less than 12 hours for the captors to issue a now familiar demand, through a grainy video posted on Facebook.

“They want 500 million Naira,” said one of the terrified hostages from the Federal College of Forestry, sitting shirtless in a forest clearing, a sum equal to around $1 million. Masked men wielding Kalashnikovs paced among the 39 students—mostly young women—then began to hit them with bullwhips.

“Our life is in danger,” a woman screamed. “Just give them what they want.”

On March 13, the Nigerian army foiled an attempt to kidnap 300 more students at a boarding school less than 50 miles away. The following day, children were among a group of 11 people abducted from the town of Suleja, in Nigeria’s Niger state.

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Some Nations Could Wait Years for Covid Shots. That’s Bad for Everyone.

NAIROBI, Kenya — The nurse lay in bed this month, coughing, wheezing and dizzy with fever.

It was three months after rich countries began vaccinating health workers, but Kenyans like the nurse, Stella Githaiga, had been left behind: Employed in the country’s largest public hospital, she caught the coronavirus on an outreach trip to remote communities in February, she believes, sidelining her even as Kenya struggles with a vicious third surge of infections.

Ms. Githaiga and her colleagues are victims of one of the most galling inequities in a pandemic that has exposed so many: Across the global south, health workers are being sickened and killed by a virus from which doctors and nurses in many rich countries are now largely protected.

That is just the most visible cost of a rich-poor divide that has deepened in the second year of the pandemic. Of the vaccine doses given globally, roughly three-quarters have gone to only 10 countries. At least 30 countries have not yet injected a single person.

Scientists have long warned that such unfair treatment could not only haunt poorer countries, but also rich ones, if the continued spread of the virus allows it to mutate in ways that undermine vaccines. But the greatest human costs will almost surely be borne by less wealthy nations.

the vaccine doses given globally.

“I don’t think we have the capacity, as a country and even as Africa, to treat our own,” said Hazel Miseda Mumbo, vice chancellor of the Great Lakes University of Kisumu in Kenya, who has studied the country’s health system. “While these countries in the West are still scrambling for vaccines, Africa will have to wait. It may be a sad situation.”

In a worrisome sign of how uneven distribution is, even Kenya, one of the continent’s wealthier countries, is faring badly.

dangerous variants circling the world. President Biden has promised to have vaccines for all adults in the United States by the end of May. Israel has vaccinated 60 percent of its people, and Britain has inoculated 41 percent.

Like many developing countries, Kenya is relying on the global mechanism for procuring and distributing vaccines known as Covax. The program was built on the idea that many countries, including richer ones, would use it to purchase shots as a way of spreading their bets across vaccine makers. Instead, dozens of wealthy nations bought doses straight from pharmaceutical companies, elbowing the international effort out of the way and delaying shipments to the developing world.

flight suspensions and school shutdowns that eventually forced children to repeat the school year — kept the virus from overwhelming the country last year, as did its relatively young population.

But control measures like lockdowns, available to rich and poor countries alike, are no longer the best defense against the coronavirus. The most valuable currency is now vaccines, opening a yawning gap between those that can afford them, and those that cannot.

The pandemic has worsened in Africa since a variant first seen in South Africa, shown to be able to reinfect people, began driving up cases in southern parts of the continent.

“Before that, it was believed that Africa had escaped this pandemic,” said Tulio de Oliveira, a geneticist at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine in South Africa. “Unfortunately, it didn’t.”

With cases soaring in Kenya, vaccine delays will cost more lives. The number of reported Covid-19 cases — more than 120,000 infections that have led to around 2,000 deaths — is thought to be an undercount.

Kenya had also ignored other countries’ worries about being used as “guinea pigs” and participated in vaccine trials, raising expectations for earlier shipments.

“The clinical trials resulted in vaccines,” said Dr. David Ngira, a postdoctoral researcher in global health law at Cardiff University, who has been tracking vaccine rollouts in Africa. “And on this premise, the Kenyan participants, as well as the surrounding communities and country at large, should have been given some priority in vaccine access.”

But that has not happened. Even Kenya’s low expectations have been scaled back: A promised 4.1 million doses from Covax by May has been cut to 3.6 million doses. The country has ordered a total of 24 million doses.

Health officials say they are grateful, but even Covax shots come with a hitch. Vaccines covering the first 20 percent of Kenya’s population were free, but only on the grounds that the government pay for enough doses to cover another 10 percent of its people.

global economy could suffer losses exceeding $9 trillion, nearly half of which would fall on rich countries like Britain, Canada and the United States.

heart specialist in Zimbabwe — a mentor to younger doctors and a pillar of the country’s health system — was killed by Covid-19. That same month, a senior doctor in northern Nigeria died from the virus, confined to an isolation center.

Kenya’s health system was already hobbled last year by mistreatment of doctors and nurses. Many health workers, unpaid for months in some cases and often given inadequate protective equipment, walked off the job, forcing some hospitals to go months without nurses. One had to close its Covid-19 isolation unit and send patients home. In December, a 28-year-old doctor died from Covid-19 after having worked without a salary for months.

“It’s a moral emergency to protect health workers worldwide,” Gavin Yamey, associate director for policy at the Duke Global Health Institute, said. “Sickness and death of health workers in systems that are already weak could exacerbate those problems even further.”

For Nyachira Muthiga, a public hospital doctor who worked on a Covid-19 ward in Nairobi last year, the arrival of Kenya’s first vaccines brought a sense of relief. But the crushing experiences of the last year have made her wary.

Before contracting the illness herself, she lost many patients. Substandard protective equipment left her vulnerable, she said. And reports of corruption that cheated hospitals of much-needed money, she said, broke something in her.

Though she got the vaccine last week, she worries that those same endemic problems in the health system — combined with vaccine hoarding by rich nations — could put shots out of the reach of ordinary Kenyans for much longer.

“I am still hopeful,” she said, “that the health of our citizens will be a high priority at some point.”

Abdi Latif Dahir reported from Nairobi and Benjamin Mueller from London.

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In the Shadow of Nollywood, Filmmakers Examine Boko Haram

And so, Ovbiagele sought to recreate the plight of Boko Haram victims the best way he knew how as someone with little intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the organization. After a community of survivors from northern Borno State relocated near his home in Lagos, he spent months gathering first-person accounts from survivors — women and girls who were piecing their lives together, he said, and making sense of their new realities as orphans, widows and victims of sexual assault. He also asked local nongovernmental organizations who were working with Boko Haram victims to properly assess the challenges faced by the survivors.

In “The Milkmaid,” the young title character, Aisha (Anthonieta Kalunta), is captured, along with her sister, Zainab (Maryam Booth), by Boko Haram insurgents who turn the women into servants — and soldiers’ wives — in a terrorist camp. Aisha is able to escape but eventually returns to the settlement to find Zainab, hardened and indoctrinated with zealous devotion, now enlisting female volunteers for suicide missions.

But creating a movie in Nollywood — the nickname for Nigeria’s thriving movie industry — is not without challenges. Certain elements of producing a full-length film — financing, endless paperwork and audience building — would be familiar to filmmakers everywhere. But making a serious drama about Islamic fanaticism — in a country where roughly half the residents are Muslim and where recent instances of religious terrorism have gained unwelcome global attention — makes such a task especially daunting. And driven to make a movie that appealed to a larger international audience accustomed to sleek, big-budget Hollywood productions, Ovbiagele reasoned that “The Milkmaid” wasn’t a Nollywood production but rather its own form of cinema in Nigeria.

The Nigerian movie business has its origins in local markets, where storytellers on limited budgets readily met the sensibilities of local viewers. Eager to generate profits and offset rampant piracy, filmmakers would quickly churn out full-length, shoddy productions.

However, the sometimes hackneyed movies served a purpose, explained Dr. Ikechukwu Obiaya, who, as the director of the Nollywood Studies Center at Pan Atlantic University in Lagos, studies movie productions. Nollywood has always been “a chronicler of social history,” he said, paraphrasing the Nigerian film scholar Jonathan Haynes. Obiaya added, “During Nollywood’s early years, often something that happened one week would be depicted in a Nollywood film available at the local market the next.” And the industry has made movies about Boko Haram. But productions like “The Milkmaid” have “shown greater creative growth in the industry as a whole and in turn, demonstrated a greater interest from the rest of the world in Nigerian stories.”

Ultimately, Ovbiagele wants to continue making films he feels passionately about and hopes the film will impart a lasting impression on viewers. “I hope audiences will leave with a deeper insight into experiences and motivations of both the victims and the perpetrators of terrorist organizations and specifically the resilience and resourcefulness of the survivors.”

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Nigerian Gunmen Kidnap Primary-School Children in Latest Mass Abduction

Gunmen kidnapped an unknown number of primary-school pupils and teachers Monday in northwestern Nigeria, government officials said, just four days after an abduction in the same state that is yet to be resolved.

Samuel Aruwan, the security commissioner for Kaduna state, said authorities had received reports of kidnapping of pupils and teachers in Birnin Gwari local government area and were obtaining details on the number abducted.

The victims’ families said the gunmen arrived Monday morning, shortly after school gates had opened, and seized six teachers and an unknown number of children. Primary schools in Nigeria usually admit children aged between 6 and 9 years old.

“They came to the village looking like normal people and one of them drew a gun from his caftan and started firing before moving to the school,” said Abduljalal Usman, the elder brother of one of the abducted teachers. “They picked children and drove them away on motorcycles.”

It is the fifth mass school abduction since December in Nigeria’s northwest, where a surge in armed militancy has led to worsening security and kidnapping for ransom has become a lucrative industry.

Footage shows hundreds of girls after they were released by gunmen in Nigeria. They were abducted from their boarding school four days earlier in what was the country’s largest-ever kidnapping of schoolgirls. (Originally published March 2, 2021)

Since December, heavily armed gangs have abducted then ransomed off more than 800 Nigerian schoolchildren, rocking Africa’s most populous country and drawing calls for urgent action from the U.S., the European Union and Pope Francis. Hundreds of school campuses have been closed across four states for fear of more attacks, leaving an estimated 20 million Nigerian children out of school, the highest total in the world.

On Friday, 39 students were taken from an agriculture college in Kaduna. On Saturday, they appeared in a video surrounded by masked men holding Kalashnikovs and pleaded with the government to pay a ransom of 500 million naira, equivalent to around $1.3 million.

The explosion of kidnappings comes almost seven years after the abduction of 276 girls in 2014 from the town of Chibok, which ignited the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign that prompted intervention by the U.S.

Kidnappings in Nigeria

Write to Joe Parkinson at joe.parkinson@wsj.com

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