Motivated to fight! Really!

Ephrem Endale  Contributer

 Motivated to fight! Kids of barely eleven or twelve motivated to fight! Really!

Most of us were expecting some criticism on the part of the international community. We thought that, though we didn’t harbor the illusion that the ground under the feet of those responsible will shake, voices of reprimand and condemnation would be heard loud and clear. And for once those who put themselves on the pinnacle of the profession of journalism would have to answer for their actions.

We can’t help asking where are all those rights groups who don’t waste time to latch on even to the most insignificant of happenings when it comes the case involve poor nations? Where are those children rights groups, which claim to be working for the welfare of children of the world when such inconsiderate piece appears in a high caliber paper? Where are those media agencies which never tire of rebuking governments and armed groups in Africa and elsewhere for making combatants out of underage children? Why the silence! Silence! Complete silence! Not a single leaf stirring!

This is beyond child exploitation or anything like that. What if say some newspaper here or elsewhere in the poorer nations carries the same pictures with the words “Motivated to Fight” jumping right out of the paper? By this time maybe some would have started throwing those favorite threatening words of theirs; “Hit them with sanctions!” they would have said “Look at them; still leaving in the stone age. How can any modern person applaud kids carrying guns! We tell you, it’s impossible to civilize these people!” That, or something close to that would have happened.

In the preface of the book ‘Africa; Altered States, Ordinary Miracles’ Richard Dowden writes about the Western media’s depiction of Africa, “Persistent images of starving children and men with guns, have accumulated into our narrative of the continent: Africans are gun-toting males, warriors or hopeless, helpless victims who can do nothing for themselves, doomed to endless poverty. Violence and hunger. Only foreign aid and foreign workers can save time the endlessly repeated images of guns oppression, hunger and disease create the impression that this is all that ever happens in Africa.”

Isn’t there some child convention or something to the tune in some the books of some UN bodies? The powers behind such media organizations don’t pick up the pieces. They will not be there to taste the damage. That’s one of the things that make such things so easy for them. That’s why they spew all their prejudices, arrogance and what have you when dealing with poor and ‘weaker’ nations and whistle all the way to the nearest pub. No accountability.

Why should the children of some carry pens books and the children of other bombs! How, in the world, can that be justice of any sort? What’s becoming of  this world? One of the most condemned acts of any war is the inclusion of child soldiers in wars. There have been multiple repatriation programs for child soldiers who mostly are forced into carrying guns almost throe size. When it happens in CDR, or in Yemen or elsewhere the noise is deafening. They attach a hundred and one names to those responsible for putting children in harm’s way.

But this time it’s a different story. A completely different set of events and players. Motivated to fight! Really! Kids so small being treated like adults! And, all this coming from a so-called liberal media outlet? But then things are not sudden bolts out of the blue. The writing is always on the wall. The only thing is we fail to see it for what it is. We fail to read between the lines taking every word at face value, and look where it got us. If they’ve taken the ball away how can you play the game; that’s what they’re trying to do; Taking the information ball away from us. And we seem to be content with letting them go away with it. It gives you the shivers if you really think about it. You’re no more your own master. You are what they make you out to be. After all, the ball is on their side of the field.

It is not about backing the wrong horse unknowingly; it is not about being misguided in whatever way. It’s some sort of opinion. “Who cares about children being cut down by guns and explosives? They are Africans, dummy! Send them some energy biscuits or something!” The indifference is scary. ‘The end justifies the means’ way of increasing circulation or attracting more viewers of those media outlets is like attempting to give injustice a prettier face. After all these things happen in other societies, in other time zones! Who cares! No one will be held accountable. No one will be forced to answer for their professional cruelty.

And the aid agencies too which should have cried foul of such media excess. Where in the world are they? But then maybe any attempt on their part could have a boomerang effect. The alliance between those institutions prevents anything like that from happening; The preface of ‘Africa; Altered States, Ordinary Miracles’ goes on… “The aid agencies provide plane tickets, a place to stay, vehicles, a driver, maybe a translator – and a story. In return the journalists give the aid agencies publicity, describing how they are saving Africans and using images of distress and helplessness to raise money. The deal excludes the efforts of the local people to save themselves. It is easier – and more lucrative – to portray them as victims depending on Western charity.”

Case closed!

Motivated to fight! Really!

The Ethiopian Herald July 18/2021

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