They call themselves Boko Haram. Literally, 'the latin alphabet is forbidden'. Symbolically, down with western education and all of that. (Because in the end, what has it brought us but exclusion?)
In the press, they go by various religious and criminal stereotypes. Islamic extremists. Violent terrorists. It is true, their actions can be poured into these well-stacked boxes. But, they also pour out.
They will not fit tidily. They will not, they cannot.
I stare at the images splashed across newspaper pages. It startles me how closely they resemble Kenya's own Mungiki. The same hardened faces, the same hopeless stares.
If Africa's young people are her future, then her future has no hope. We continue to 'manufacture' them by the million, but once they are all grown up and ready to do life, such as we have taught them they must do, we do not know what to do with them.
Our frail economies are creaking under the bulging weight of them. We find that we cannot admit them into core of our economic life; there simply isn't enough for everyone, you see. Unemployment is soaring. They find themselves abandoned at the fringes of society, struggling to survive, grasping for what straw will come.
Enter cause célèbres.
Kenya's Mungiki. Nigeria's Boko Haram. Somalia's shockingly youthful pirates. South Africa's township union protests.
All of them can reliably trace their roots to a rising discontent among Africa's youth, a growing rage at their marginalisation.
I think back to when I came of age. There were stirrings of discontent back then, certainly. A mild resentment, even. My country was headed in a direction that did not inspire confidence. Our future was looking increasingly dim.
But it was nothing then like what it is now.
Perhaps back then we still had a memory of a better time to keep us hoping that it would come around again, sometime.
I could still reasonably dream of becoming whoever I wanted to be. The playing field was already becoming overgrown, certainly, but I still had the sense that it was, for the most part, level.
One generation down the line and there's no living memory in our youth of a better time. It is what it always was and it's getting worse. Nothing to live for, perhaps even, something worth killing for.
I do not condone criminal behaviour of any kind, whoever perpetrates it, wherever they perpetrate it, you understand.
But I do think Africa needs to think long and hard about her youth, her future. We must come up with a plan, and fast, to restore a future and a hope to our young people. That's a thing we can unite around, surely. That is something that should galvanise us all. Before it is too late.