“When not used as meat canon, child soldiers are deminers spies, porters, sex slaves, custodians holdings of oil or diamonds, financing rebellions in Africa. According to United Nations estimates, the world has nearly 300 000 child soldiers under 18 years used in over 30 conflicts around the globe, civil wars marked by the proliferation weapons cheap and extraordinarily easy”
this blog i really care to share!!!!not too long ago i started to read a book, that got my attention because the author is a nigerian woman, and i never read anything by a nigerian author.
well arent i glad i did. im not goin to spoil it in case you decided to read, but the story was set in nigeria post indipendence in the 1960 and on the eve of a cilvil war, that would turn out to be vicious.
as a child my dad used to tell me a lot of bed time stories, and the majority of them were all nigerian folklore. i do remeber him telling me he was a soldier, but it didnt quite dawn on me until i read this book that he was in fact a CHILD SOLDIER. my dad was taken from his family at the age of 13 to go and fight for a very stupid war, that made no sense whats so ever, not that any war does make sense, but at the time part of the nigerians wanted the igbos ( one of the many nigerian tribes) to dissapear, to be eliminated, and the stupid thing about it is that the only thing that differentiated them apart was the language, so for those igbo that spoke more than one nigerian language, ther was a way out…..so yea just stupid!anyways…after reading this book…i decided to interview my dad about that experience, because i still couldnt beleive that my dad whom i call “ciccione” (fat guy in italian) a very outgoing smart and funny man…was once a 13 year old little boy that had to fight for his life.i definitely gained a whole other level of respect for him.
this is the interview:
ME:how old were you when u had to leave home?
ME: what were you most scared off?
DAD: no i wasnt scared, to me it was like an adventure, and they kept telling us they wanted to kill us,so it was the adventure of saving my life.
ME:how your parents reacted?
DAD: my father was more scared than my mom, he didnt like the idea of me going, my mother just knew i would come back alive.
ME: could they help you and avoid you going?
DAD: it was compulsory for me to go because i was a tall and fit for my age and looked older than just 13 and they couldnt even fake my age to make them think i was younger,
ME:did u ever have to kill anyone?
DAD:i dont know if i did, we were just shooting to save our lives, so the gun went off everytime i was in danger, but i never stopped to look at what was left behind.
ME: who thought you how to use weapons and fight?
DAD: they sent us to military camp and trained us for 6 weeks.
ME: how were you treated?
ME: they treated us like we were grown soldier, and part of the army, they fed us maybe once a day and sometimes twice.
ME:how did you survive?
DAD: lol your dad is a smart guy!!the fact that i speak the 3 main nigerian languages every where i went i was a “local” and it was to my advantage. they used me to help the people in charge talk to the locals in different villages and to translate for them, there for i was needed a lot.
ME:how long did u have to be gone for?
DAD:i was in the war front from 1968 till the end of the war in 1970
ME: how dd that experience changed you?
DAD:i became very aggressive, i was prone to get vary mad and ready to physically fight someone for any kind of provocation.
ME:how others reacted to you?
DAD: when i resumed school my uncle went to talk to the principle…to explain my aggressive behaviour, and with time with the support of the people that loved me i learned to manage my anger.
i most say im just glad he is my dad!!!anyways the day after the interview i was talking to my cousin, and she had a few other interesting things her mom (my dad younger sister) told her about that time, and how hard it was to make it back then….turns out we have some what of a disfunctional family and we talk abot nothing….lol but when we dooo…whooo whhheeee the crazy thing we learned about our past…
this is what i learned from my cousin ….
“our family was in the east when the war started, they had to hide and added to that was the fact that grampa was already sick so it was tough.
my mom and uncle bidoun(my dads lil brother and sister) used to go around searching for food, they kept on moving around I cant remember where they settled, but grandmas side of the family finally came to the east to look for them and brought them all to lagos
(my grandma was youruba therefor safe from the senseless killings). being able to speak yoruba helped them survive so when they were in a situation where nigerian soldiers came and questioned them, they told them they were yorubas. That was one of the advantages of coming from an educated family.
while they were roaming around trying to survive my mom said she saw some soldiers that had killed a woman in the bush and on top of that they were eating the parts and when other soldiers caught them they put the parts in a basket told them to carry it and paraded them in the city. my mom also said your dad was hyper for a while after he came back”
of course i had to ask my mom what she thought since she married the guy…and these are the few questions i had for her:
ME: when did u meet him?
MOM:i met him when he was 24
ME:how was he?
MOM:he was nice you know how a guy is when he tries to get the girl.
ME:have u ever seen him very angry?
MOM: yes many times, not to me but i had to try and help him calm down and realize he couldnt react to things that way anymore… he is a good guy that just needed some help and patience in dealing with is anger.
well all i can say is…i would have never guessed my dad went through something so dramatic and life altering at such a young impressionable time in is life.
i was lucky enough to get him, and get to know him even tho we are not exactly the most “traditional normal” family ever ( 4 of us…and we live in 3 different continents)….
but i know not all child soldiers are fortunate enough to get out of it and create a life..or to get out of it alive at all. and that is something to really think about….