The End of Kadogos (Child Soldiers)


It all began when we were at school, running up and down, looking for the way out of the school fence. They fired at a crowd of teenagers in the schoolyard, killing tens and grabbing others who we never knew where they were taken.

He was taken together with others, hundred of 10 year olds. We never saw him again and all we wished was that if he were shot, at least his body would be in a place where people would be placing flowers every year. His disappearance was a shock to the village as well as to all the youngsters that were sharing life with him.

Once upon a time, we heard a gun short in the neighborhood. As every day's song, we know someone was being robbed or killed. We all rushed out only to see a crowd of people celebrating Jacque’s return. We all gasped in joy to see him alive after a year missing, and again were shocked to see him in a camouflage uniform.

He stayed with us for a day then went to the military camp where he was working.

He was only 15, and as short as a 10 year old. What happened to him in the past year no one knew, but as a 15-year-old soldier, it must have been bad.

In the city, armed robberies and murders rose, and nobody ever felt comfortable walking after dark or even at sunset. All these crimes were done by soldiers and polices who had years of working without being paid. They were made to believe by the government that the gun is their salary. They needed to rob people to survive, as the government was incapable of paying them. On the other hand, the army set up a law stating; if you kill, you should be killed too. Just like the English phrase “death penalty,” they will do it in public and let everyone see. Mostly, it will be innocents being killed to cover the real culprit—that's politics.

As the story was told, one night Jacque was hanging with his crew at around 10. They stopped a person who was just coming from work and demanded cash. The person had no cash but had some food with him that he had for the family.

They started beating him up and the next thing that happened was a shot from Jacque's gun, Jacque, who never knew why he entered the army in the first place. The person was dead at once and all the crew fled, leaving Jacque surrounded by tens of angry civilians who were already fed up seeing innocent people killed every day. As the crowd started beating him, the army intervened quickly and took him into custody. The following day it was announced on the radio that Jacque would be executed on Monday at one of the popular intersections, "place du 24" for everyone to go and watch.

We were so sad and asked why? First, they took him into the army by force. Second, he was as young as 14. Third, they physically, mentally and emotionally abused him. They taught him how to do evil by giving him drugs. They destroyed his being and now they are killing him for doing what they taught him to do.

That is bad. Same way they killed many other teenagers in schools, sending them to war on the front line so they would die first. Why is Jacque leaving us this Monday?

Jacque was shot by three men in front of the entire city and all his friends and family. Nevertheless, he was a good boy and will always be. He was abused and became a victim. A kadogo (Child soldier).