Chapter 1: In search of the lost kingdom of childhood
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Who is a child soldier? Did the child have a childhood in a home and family before becoming a soldier? What is childhood? How does the definition of childhood (legal or otherwise) square with the child’s own perception or understanding of his/her place in society? Does the child return to home and family after combat? Are home and family still the same? Using Ahmadou Kourouma’s Allah is not Obliged, Emmanuel Dongala’s Johnny Mad Dog and Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone as primary sources of reference, this chapter engages these and other questions. The hope is to unveil broader vistas of agency, victimhood and the human capacity to transcend adversity, focusing specifically on how the child (or child soldier) negotiates the meandering road upon which s/he has been thrust by people and circumstances while lacking any properly functioning compass.