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When the war is over...

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When the war is over...

by Nurene Jassiem
06 Feb 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

It would appear that the gang violence we thought had been laid to rest has once-again reared its ugly head in our communities.

Often, either the victims or the perpetrators of these crimes are children and young adults. I recently watched the movie Blood Diamond. It's a 141-minute movie so I won't go into the details, but one of the things that struck me and really hit home was how the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) went about recruiting child soldiers to help fight for their cause.

They would go from village to village killing and maiming entire communities, and then take the young boys to the RUF "training camps" where they'd be drugged and trained to become killing machines.
Within weeks these boys would destroy villages and kill innocent people, their own villages' destruction being a distant memory by then.

It made me think of all the youngsters in our communities who are "recruited" every day into a world of gangsterism and drugs.
Given that the world out there is not just doom and gloom, the severity of what happened to those children in Sierra Leone, as well as what is currently happening to our youth, has far-reaching implications.

At some stage in the movie a child soldier almost has his father killed because he was been so brainwashed by the RUF that he saw this "man" as a threat.
It took a near-death experience for him to realise what he had tried to do and even so this boy, who could not have been older than 10, was not the same boy who dreamed of becoming a doctor not long before.
I see the children in our communities who fall prey to the gangs in the same light as these child soldiers.

Albeit that their recruitment is not necessarily as harsh and the war they wage may not be quite as bloody, their youth is stolen from them all the same.

In many instances our youth have become the enemy within. Given that those who turn to drugs and crime are in the minority, they have waged a war against their own communities.

But the question that needs to be asked is: What happens when the war is over?

As the Sierra Leonian child soldiers could not easily be reintegrated into society, how will our youth lead "normal lives" if and when we free our society of drugs and crime?

How will we, as a society, make up for their lost youth and change their mindsets about the difference between right and wrong?

Or will they merely become South Africa's next lost generation?

Before trying to answer these questions, here's a point to ponder from the ancient Lydian king, Croesus. He said, "In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons."

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