Child Soldiers in Africa

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University of Pennsylvania Press, Incorporated, 2007 - Law - 216 pages
3 Reviews

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. In Child 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.

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Jean Chrysostome Kiyala's review
"Child soldiers in Africa" exhibits the reality of child soldiers in an unusual style that uncovers profound meanings, tragedies and dramas that evade from many
narratives on children used as fighters. This book critically unveils African social ethics to relocate child soldiers problem in the disruption of structures that help uphold value systems which have collapsed, and as a result, generations of children are deprived of harmonious and delectable future, and a flavored life. A collective responsive action to the suffering of so many boys and girls and their respective communities implies subverting and re-creating social, economic and cultural structures, which this book advocates for as urgency. I should add that re-integration of former belligerent children should be perceived in the global context of peacebuilding and and should go beyond physical, mental and emotional healing. Justice for their victims should be a project that tap into restorative justice resources to transform relationships so badly distorted by bloody conflicts and inhumane acts. This books is definitely a masterpiece in the literature on child soldiering.  

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A decent overview of the effects of recruiting children to war, but lacks ethnographic depth. Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Alcinda Honwana is Professor and Chair in International Development, The Open University.

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