Kenya: Child Soldiers



Louisa Frye
World History- Hjelmgren
5/19/09, Pd. 4

Future Hope for Kenyan Child Soldiers

The cruel kidnapping and torturing used to obtain children as child-soldiers in our world in recent times is connected to the many deaths of children and teens. Children are kidnapped, captured, and forced to work in military armies through out the world.  One such army is the Kenyan Army (Crilly). Dating back to 1885, Kenya was taken over by Britain and deprived of their own independence and freedom.  Kenyans were not allowed to think for themselves or work together to become a prosperous nation.  The issue of colonialism in Kenya has definitely slowed down the advancement of their military technology; their absence of independence prevented them from developing a strong military (Houreld).  To help catch up with the present times, Kenya has resorted to the method of forcing their youth to fight for them (Crilly).  The way the Kenyan army uses children as weapons is barbaric.  However, it is what they see as an opportunity to move ahead of all other military forces and regain what time they lost throughout their deprivation of independence during the era of Africa colonialism.

The Kenyan army is committing inhumane acts by kidnapping children in order to help their military forces catch up with the rest of society and get back to where they used to be decades ago.  Innocent children are being seized from their homes and forced to fight with their nation’s military (Crilly). They are forced to see and experience things that no child should ever have to do.  Emmanuel Jal was one such child.  Jal and 400 other child soldiers decided to take the journey to safety.  This safe place was the town of Waat in the southeastern African state Jonglei and would take months to reach.  At about three months into the journey, Jal and his whole group had run out of food and were starving; they had to resort to eating anything that would help them survive. When Jal’s good friend had died of hunger, the one thing he was tempted to do was eat his friend’s body; resort to cannibalism (Crilly).  No human being should ever have to resort to such savageness, but this thirteen-year old boy had no other choice (Crilly).  Another decision that no child should ever have to make would be to choose one or the other: Go to war or the militia will kill your family.  One fifteen-year old boy was forced to join the military in order to protect his family.  The militia had shot and killed his uncle (who was on his knees, begging for his life) right in front of him so that the boy would experience the pain and guilt of not joining the army (Houreld).  In order to protect the rest of his family, the boy was forced to go to war.  One last conduct that no child or human being should ever have to do is to murder one of their own family members.  One small boy was forced to kill his own father; cold- blooded murder (Houreld).  No human should ever be forced to execute such crimes.  However, with the existence of child soldiers, many end up being forced to commit them.

Kenya has resorted to brainwashing their own adolescents to avenge the past damage that has been done to their nation. Normal healthy children are taken at such a young age for one reason; so that they can be taken in and brainwashed to become a killing machine (Crilly).  They are taught to believe that killing is the proper way to handle things.  They are handed inappropriate weapons at an early age, which contributes to their thinking that killing is appropriate (Crilly).  For example, Emmanuel Jal, mentioned above, was handed a gun for the first time when he was eight. He was excited about it.  He said, “I was psyched up.  It was so exciting to learn how to use a gun.”  A boy at this age should not feel the excitement of learning how to use a gun, but instead feel the excitement of receiving a toy truck.  Another example of how the Kenyan army brainwashes their child soldiers is how they threaten them with ideas of torture.  Children are told of painful beatings, shaking hands with corpses, and crawling through barbed wire tunnels (Houreld).  With these threats, children grow up committing vile acts thinking it is their only option for survival.  One last example of how Kenyan children are used, are that they are often drugged before they go into combat.  Militia leaders drug children against their will so that they cooperate and behave as the ‘perfect weapon’ (Houreld).  No child or human being should ever be turned into such a monster where they could be labeled as a killing machine.  But sadly, in many parts of the world child soldiers is what war has resorted to (Houreld).

Using children as weapons has been one of the most barbaric ideas in history (Child Soldier Relief). It is savage and cruel; something that should never have even been thought about in the first place.  It effects and ruins many children’s and their family’s lives.  Family members are murdered as result from a son/daughter not joining the army.  Children are deprived of their freedom and no longer have the just life that they deserve.   However, it is a clever strategy that Kenya, along with many other countries have come up with to compete with the rest of the world’s militia forces (Crilly). Kenya is recorded as being one of the most recent countries to be using child soldiers (as recent as the past year) (Crilly).  This issue in Kenya has not been too much of a problem in the past, but in the last couple years it has deteriorated fairly quickly (Crilly). Addressing the issue of child- soldiers in Kenya and other militaries that use children as weapons can help reduce the deaths of many children and teens.  Making this issue more known and spreading the word through out our country can eliminate the use of children as weapons.  We can help the cause by supporting and donating money to funds that support child soldiers.  Most of the money made by these funds goes towards refugees for escaped child soldiers (Crilly).  More people should become aware of this issue because it will help stop the spreading use of child soldiers so more children can get their rightful education instead of militia obligations (Child Soldier Relief)!



Crilly, Rob. “Ex-Child Soldier Now Kenya’s Hottest Rapper.” USA Today 13 Mar. 2005. 17

May 2009 <‌life/‌music/‌news/‌2005-03-13-kenya-rapper_x.htm?POE=LIFISVA>.

·  This source really helped me find some personal details about a child, now an adult, who is an ex-child soldier.  Reading this really helped me understand what it may have been like for some children who were child soldiers.  It also shows hope for children who are child soldiers right now, because if one boy had the courage to achieve his own freedom, I’m sure many others can also.

Houreld, Katharine. “Kenyan Children Abducted, Tortured, Turned into Child Soldiers.”

The Huffington Post 24 June 2008. 17 May 2009


·  From this source I had retrieved a lot of information on the basics of child soldiers.  It gave me some insight into what it may have been like for some children, and what they went through.  It also explains what role the United States has with issue of child soldiers, which I found incredibly interesting.

“Kenyan Children Forced to Fight as Child Soldiers in the past Year.” Child Soldier

Relief. 10 May 2009.  17 May 2009 <‌2008/‌06/‌25/‌kenyan


·  This source really helped me realize what an issue “child soldiers” is in Kenya.  I learned all of the cruelties that went on in many children’s lives that lived in Kenya.  I learned that they were forced to see and do many things that I would never imagine could be real.  This was just another source that has made me feel ever more great full for the freedom we are granted in our country.


Last Updated by Louisa Frye on May 22, 2009