Oops: Boston Globe columnist falls for 15-year old boy’s tall tale about zebra hunting

Last Sunday, Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham wrote a profile of a boy from Nigeria who has moved to the United States and is thriving here.  The first sentence of the profile is as follows:

Five years ago, Abubakar Suleiman was hunting zebras with spears and trying to avoid antagonizing cheetahs.

The profile goes on:

Suleiman … became a track star, helping Orchard Gardens take the citywide athletic championship earlier this month. Suleiman won all but one of his 400-meter races and anchored the 4×200 relay team. He placed first in javelin.

“I have a technique,” he said with a wry smile. The zebras.

Just one problem. There are no wild zebras in Nigeria:

There are no zebra in the wild in Nigeria. (There are zebra on Nigerian postage stamps but that is about selling stamps to collectors, not zebra habitat.)  While it is possible for a cheetah to exist in the savannas of northern Nigeria, this is extremely rare. Humans would frighten, not antagonize, any wild cheetah there.  Besides, hunting is about accuracy; javelin is about distance.

Yep, being a bright 15-year-old boy with a wry sense of humor gave him a leg up on Ms. Abraham.  He put her on, dangled the hook and she went for it.  As a sophisticated Bostonian, I’m sure she’s seen all those National Geographic specials; Africa is chocked full of zebras and cheetahs. Kenya and Nigeria must be pretty much the same thing.  All part of that country called Africa. Yes sub-Saharan Africa consists of about 50 political subdivisions called countries, but it is still Africa.  Just like Iowa has 90 or so subdivisions called counties, but it is still Iowa.

As AfricasCountry.com notes, the Globe “had clearly come for the whole Coming to America schtick, and that’s exactly what they got.”

Today Abraham posted the following correction to her column:

After this column ran, I received several notes from readers saying there are no zebras in the Nigerian wild.

They’re right. I spoke to the Abubakar Suleiman, and he admitted that the hunting escapades he told me about, stories he told friends and teachers since arriving at the age of 10, were tales he’d heard from an uncle, and not his own. But in conversations with his mother and teachers, the rest of his story checks out. His many remarkable accomplishments in Boston stand.

As for Suleiman, he is winning major cool points for tricking The Globe reporter with his “wry smile”:

Someone get him a job at The New Republic or The New York Times, stat.

  • AtomicMountain

    What’s worse is Abraham must believe that Nigerians EAT zebras too.

    • Joe W.

      Well….Kenyans eat dogs, don’t they??

      • AtomicMountain

        Whoa! That’s a two-fer!

      • freeinaz


      • http://baldilocks-talking.blogspot.com/ Juliette Akinyi Ochieng

        Actually it’s the Indonesians.

        • Joe W.

          As well as Kenyans living in Indonesia before migrating to Hawaii.

      • Clete Torres

        What wine goes with dog, one wonders…

        • Joe W.

          “Two Buck Chuck”………

        • shimauma

          A dog about to be eaten is prolly full o’whine…*rimshot*

  • Kevin Roe

    Can’t be that hard to fool the press. Obama’s been doing it for years!!

  • CatHerder

    Nice work, kid.

  • Kevin

    It’s not like it’s hard, there is no fact checking in journalism anymore

  • V the K

    Layers and layers of fact-checkers! That’s why the MSM are so superior to blogs and the internet.

  • $27789750

    The Globe really needs selling doesn’t it. Change is needed.


    I am assuming that zebras are native to the grasslands sub-Saharan in Southern, Eastern, and Central Africa. To be fair, I would have fallen for this too because I do not properly know the full extent of the range of those particular animals.

    • http://www.black-and-right.com/ IceColdTroll

      Perhaps, but you are not masquerading as a credible reporter for a purportedly reliable news outlet.

  • FFlintstone

    This is about the same level of scrutiny that the Bostob Globe gives to everything Obama says.

  • http://twitter.com/thetugboatphil TugboatPhil

    Imagine, being stupid enough to be fooled by a Nigerian. It’s like I was telling my NIGERIAN BARRISTER the other day, while he was working on the probate of my long lost uncle’s estate. Oh yeah, I just remembered I need to send him another check. Those Nigerian Probate Courts have a LOT of fees and charges.

    • LVRichardson

      Funny. :-)

    • Orwellian_Dilemma

      You too?! Does that mean we’re cousins?!

    • Right Wired

      411 eater – check it out.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeBeq0i03bg Booker

    Too freaking hilarious. This is why the Old Media deserves to die.

  • ObamaFail

    This kid proved how lackluster the typical liberal “news” source is at fact checking and getting the story straight. Bravo, kid.

  • radicallyalyssa


  • Elaine

    ‘Abubakar Suleiman was hunting zebras with spears and trying to avoid antagonizing cheetahs.’ HAHA What an image and to stereotype Africans like that? Funny kid.

  • JeffWRidge

    On the plus side, young Abubakar might be able to help Ms. Abraham in picking up the lottery winnings she learned about in her email. Fingers crossed.

  • keithmh113

    I wonder if the same fact-checker works on Obama stories

  • http://www.black-and-right.com/ IceColdTroll

    Well, questioning his story would be RAAAAAAAAAAAACIST, right Boston Glob? Right, all you self-hating white liberals?

    • ObamaFail

      Self-hating white liberals would pay out reparations to African Americans, but they can’t afford to take that much out of their welfare.

  • Right Wired

    I perform more thorough research when I’m selecting candy bar off the shelf.

  • robcrawford2

    What do we expect? We let ignoramouses who couldn’t hack an English degree and instead opted for “journalism” write articles, and they fall for lies so easily.

    Look at how many of them fell for Obama!

  • http://baldilocks-talking.blogspot.com/ Juliette Akinyi Ochieng

    Cute kid with a twinkle in his eye.

  • socalcon

    “Wow, how did they miss this.”

    “Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham”
    Lib feminist columnist. Nuff said.

  • socalcon

    “Wow, how did they miss this.”

    “Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham”
    Lib feminist columnist. Nuff said.

  • socalcon

    “Real Journalist”, as Michelle Malkin might point out.

  • socalcon

    “Real Journalist”, as Michelle Malkin might point out.

  • http://www.nleomf.org/officers/ FlatFoot

    Ha! That is one funny young man.

  • Ed

    Another liberal done in by their own bigotry.