Region/Concept: Africa, Space
Sub-Concepts: Terror, Cruelty, Wildness, Betrayal
Description: Boko Haram fighters flee their jungle refuge after suffering incessant attacks by deadly snakes and bees.

The guerilla fighter assimilates his tactics from the modes of spatiality (climates) he inhabits; his body in turn emanates its own climate, of terror. For Boko Haram, these monstrous spatial affects germinated in the untamable jungle region outside the villages of northeastern Nigeria. Camouflage, surprise, swarming, disappearance – with these capacities of violence and indifference to human suffering, capacities of the wild, Boko Haram has terrorized local villages and eluded capture by the Nigerian army. But their relation to the Sambisa forest has proven to be far from a simple alliance. After suffering incessant attacks from venomous snakes and killer bees resulting in numerous casualties, Boko Haram has fled the jungle for tamer climates. Betrayed by the jungle that granted their powers, by the very same tactics they inflicted so effectively upon the bodies of the Nigerian state, Boko Haram has itself been terrorized by the radical outside. And as if to reciprocate this betrayal, several guerillas who were captured upon returning to the relative safety of the villages claimed that the snake and bee attacks were caused by the vengeful spirits of their own human victims; a superstition of village justice imposed on the inhuman cruelty of the jungle. Thus the guerilla does not merely assimilate his tactics from the jungle, but also becomes assimilated by the jungle’s dangerous economy, where to partake of its powers means also to submit one’s body to the vulnerability of its toxins, the disarming impenetrability of its undergrowth, and the constantly lurking threat of predation. In this sense, from the perspective of the jungle, Boko Haram was simply not worthy to inhabit or embody the modalities of its wildness. It should come as no surprise then that the terror group’s more recent space of operations includes a shopping mall in the city of Abuja.


Will Scarlett