African Child Soldier Essay

African Child Soldier Essay-65
The market for it remains — no one has yet gone broke marketing African child-soldier narratives to Americans, as a perusal of most airport bookstores will demonstrate — but the novels lack novelty, and those who follow African literature seriously have moved on.

The market for it remains — no one has yet gone broke marketing African child-soldier narratives to Americans, as a perusal of most airport bookstores will demonstrate — but the novels lack novelty, and those who follow African literature seriously have moved on.Yet the African child-soldier narrative has a second life now in movies.

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Taylor didn’t the child soldier, of course — children have been conscripted to fight for as long as there have been wars — but his name has become synonymous with a particular kind of child-soldier army, built on drug addiction, the acquisition of conflict commodities, and adolescents with Uzis.It not only draws on its predecessors: it is imprisoned by them.In his defense, Fukunaga began working on the project over a decade ago, before the child-soldier genre was codified.In 2003 he traveled to New Guinea, Sierra Leone, and the Liberian border to research an original screenplay, which he struggled to finish and ultimately scrapped in favor of adapting Iweala’s novel.Perhaps he needed distance from his subject: for a genre so often predicated on authentic experience presented in disorienting close-up, distance has always been crucial to the child-soldier narrative.Before you read the first word of Iweala’s novel or see the first frame of Fukunaga’s movie, you already know that story; before you hear the voice of its narrator, Agu (played by Abraham Attah in the film), or witness the first act of violence orchestrated by the Commandant (played by Idris Elba), you have already been placed in a genre whose terms are basically, fundamentally, and inescapably racist.To condemn a genre is not the same thing as condemning its individual manifestations.These novels are not identical, of course, but there is enough overlap and family resemblance between them to allow us to observe a market forming, and a genre taking shape, during that relatively brief period.Before 2000, it wouldn’t have made sense to talk about “the African child-soldier narrative”; no such genre existed.In 1985, was a rebellious innovation, a real departure from literary norms.The stories that followed, which have repeated and developed what Saro-Wiwa had done, have turned innovation into convention.

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