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Child Soldiers in Africa

Child Soldiers in Africa

Alcinda Honwana
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Child Soldiers in Africa
    Book Description:

    Young people have been at the forefront of political conflict in many parts of the world, even when it has turned violent. In some of those situations, for a variety of reasons, including coercion, poverty, or the seductive nature of violence, children become killers before they are able to grasp the fundamentals of morality. It has been only in the past ten years that this component of warfare has captured the attention of the world. Images of boys carrying guns and ammunition are now commonplace as they flash across television screens and appear on the front pages of newspapers. Less often, but equally disturbingly, stories of girls pressed into the service of militias surface in the media.A major concern today is how to reverse the damage done to the thousands of children who have become not only victims but also agents of wartime atrocities. InChild Soldiers in Africa, Alcinda Honwana draws on her firsthand experience with children of Angola and Mozambique, as well as her study of the phenomenon for the United Nations and the Social Science Research Council, to shed light on how children are recruited, what they encounter, and how they come to terms with what they have done. Honwana looks at the role of local communities in healing and rebuilding the lives of these children. She also examines the efforts undertaken by international organizations to support these wartime casualties and enlightens the reader on the obstacles faced by such organizations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0477-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The issue of children’s participation in armed political conflict has captured the attention of the world during the past ten or fifteen years. Images of boys carrying guns and ammunition flash across television screens and appear on the front pages of newspapers. Less often but equally disturbingly stories of girls pressed into the service of militias surface in the media. An unprecedented number of children have been drawn into active participation in warfare. Many children are coerced into fighting; others are pushed into it by poverty and crises in their communities; some may be seduced by promises of glory or...

  4. Chapter 1 Civil Wars in Mozambique and Angola
    (pp. 7-25)

    This study draws on ethnographic research undertaken in angola and mozambique, two african nations that have experienced prolonged and blood civil wars. Both countries are former Portuguese colonies that became independent in 1975 after long wars of national liberation. In both countries, the postcolonial government, led by nationalist movements that successfully prosecuted wars of independence, adopted a Marxist orientation and socialist models of development. These policies met with resistance factions of the former independence movements, which waged war against the incumbent government with material assistance from foreign nations. During these wars, which lasted over fifteen years in Mozambique and for...

  5. Chapter 2 Historical and Social Contexts
    (pp. 26-48)

    In recent decades, children and youth have featured centrally as both the targets and the perpetrators of violence. In nearly every war and civil conflict, children are among the principal victims. The situation has worsened in recent years because civil wars conflicts without clearly defined state actors have grown more prominent, and children suffer more in these irregular conflicts. Not only are they injured by bombs and other instruments of violence used against civilians, but all too often they are drawn into direct participation in armed combat children fight as soldiers and are abducted into servitude and for sexual exploitation....

  6. Chapter 3 Recruitment and Initiation
    (pp. 49-74)

    At the age of ten, Marula¹ was kidnapped by RENAMO insurgents during a rebel attack on his village in Gaza province, southern Mozambique. His father and his younger sister also were kidnapped along with other villagers. They walked for three days, carrying military equipment and items looted from the village, before reaching the RENAMO camp. There the family was separated. While his father was sent to the men’s ward and his sister to the women’s sector, Marula was ordered to join a group of young boys. A few weeks later, Marula started military training. He was not allowed to see...

  7. Chapter 4 Young Women
    (pp. 75-103)

    Antina, a twenty-three-year-old woman in Josina Machel Island in southern Mozaimbique, told me her story, which began when she was fourteen:

    We were all asleep when they came to our house. This was 1991? I can’t remember exactly … maybe 1990 … I am not sure. They forced the door open and started to beat all of us. There was my father, my two younger brothers, and I. Other members of our family were [away]. The soldiers tied my father inside the house. The commander of the group raped me. They took everything they wanted from the house and then...

  8. Chapter 5 Healing Child Soldiers and Their Communities
    (pp. 104-134)

    Marcos was stationed in the RENAMO camp of Ngungwè in southern Mozambique for many years where he trained and became a RENAMO soldier.¹ He attacked and looted many villages, killing and robbing innocent civilians. Following the 1992 peace accord between the government and RENAMO, Marcos was reunified with his relatives, who had not received any news of his whereabouts for more than five years. A few days after his return, the family organized a cleansing ritual for Marcos. According to his mother, the ritual was important to purify him from the bad deeds of the war, appease the spirits of...

  9. Chapter 6 Looking to the Future and Learning from the Past
    (pp. 135-164)

    This final chapter examines the prospects for rehabilitation and reintegration of young people affected by armed conflict and considers national and international policies that might prevent the involvement of children in postcolonial civil wars. What resources are available to facilitate their transition into “normal” life? What are the strerngths and limitations of the programs implemented to support them? How do the fundamental causes and devastating consequences of these conflicts affect the prospects these young people have for becoming full and active members of society? What are the problems and possibilities of national and international policies designed to prevent the recruitment...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 165-188)
  11. Index
    (pp. 189-200)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 201-203)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 204-204)