Here is a digression placed before we have even commenced – it comes in form of a question directed at prominent sectors of the international media, and even the United Nations, whose deliberations I recently watched: what’s in a name? Or, straight to the point – why ‘Boko Haram’? That is not the name the Nigerian pustule of a global religious inflamation chose for themselves. Muhammed Yusuf and his founding cohorts had settled for the grandiloquent name of ‘Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad’ – People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad. Even if Nigerians found themselves ill prepared and ill equipped to cope with this sudden and brutal affliction, they understood and held on to the psychological weapon of – naming! They even declined to concede a shortened version such as – ‘Committed People’, ‘The Prophet’s Jihadists’ or whatever - No, Nigerians , Boko Haram (The Book is Anathema) is what you are, Boko Haram is what your actions read. Language is also an instrument of war. This is a theme that requires addressing in its own right, as a principle of resistance.

For now, a more pressing issue is the provocation of a – not unrelated – question, one that I find myself compelled to consider periodically under a variety of  circumstances, most prominently perhaps during the murderous War of Biafran secession:  When is a state? Is it when you pronounce it one that it does becomes one?  Or does it require a referendum? Or will a flag suffice? And an anthem? Does thinking make it so? Is a state actualized when you begin to print your own currency – as Isis – more accurately known as Da’esh -  is reported to have done? In merely thinking that question, we can profitably take a cue from the battered humanity of Nigeria who seem to have resolved: never concede a thing to the enemy, certainly not in the accessible currency of language. ISIS – spelt out fully as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - is not a state, any more than its predecessor – ISIL – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ever was.  Both were however clear and sinister declarations of intent, and it is appalling to think that the world failed to wake up to such an unambiguous manifesto. Nor is it islamic, even by the broadest yardstick of islamic practices...