Up Close: Caliphate of Ashes

In March 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS and tried to establish a Caliphate. Photojournalist Benedicte Kurzen describes travelling with the Nigerian army as they retook the land held by insurgents.

  • Words + Photography: Bénédicte Kurzen

‘In the helicopter of the Nigerian Air Force, the hot air, the noise, the sun were overwhelming. But nothing could distract us from watching the ground. On this particular evening we were flying from Gwoza to Maiduguri. We went so low, it felt we could touch the leafless trees of this stark forest where Boko Haram was hiding. Would we see them? Would they have time to shoot at us?

Suddenly we saw a pick-up truck with men on top and anti-aircraft weaponry. But they had no time to take aim. As we flew on, the next scene we saw was these Fulani cows fleeing in panic because of the noise and the vibrations.ʼ

Bénédicte Kurzen is a French photographer and photojournalist based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Article taken from
Articles

Further Reading

Reading List: Survival Literature

From the brutalities of life in the gulag to crossing the Pacific on a raft, Avaunt guides you through the precipitous terrain of survival literature’s great classics.

The Worst Journey

Let us consider the companionship and hardiness of three men who, trekking through the pitch-black Antarctic winter, survived temperatures of -60°C, crevasse falls and frostbite.

Mirrorlands

A shift in the balance of world power means that China and Russia are currently more aligned than at any point since the 1950s. Ed Pulford takes a journey along the border between two superpowers.

Surviving Afghanistan

Realising that cultural understanding was his ticket to staying alive, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Worsley looks back to his precarious time leading 15 soldiers through Helmand in the lead up to the war.

Flows: Chinese Garden

Shot over the course of five months in and around Tulum, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Flows leads viewers on a journey never before taken.

Concrete Utopia

A revelatory exhibition at New York’s MoMA displays both the vision and the volatility of Yugoslavia during the Cold War.
Browse by Category