Memoirs of a Child Soldier

Dear Africana Woman,

Hi honéy. How have you been? Let me tell you. Dis de President of Zambiao. Did he not announce last Friday that schools could open for all other students as early as Monday. Yes two days later. Mhm. My son's school has absolutely no chill. My dear if that announcement was made at 10am, then by 12pm they had sent out an official letter saying bring the chewdren back by Tuesday next week. Was it not scramble for Africa, using money I did not know I have. Homes, has had a major growth spurt. In December we had a birthday photoshoot and this Dude was as tall as my shoulders, right now he is taller than me. Like Dude calm down, what are you rushing for? Anyway, shoes were too small, uniforms barely fit, clothes were tight. Scramble for Africa I tell you. But keeping it real, it was bare essentials. The rest will come when it comes. Two days to prepare, I beg, who is balling like dat in the middle of the month, in the middle of the pandemic? I’m sorry I meant Me, I am not balling like dat in the middle of the month, The budget is already at capacity.

I am complaining yeah, but let me tell you. When we drove into school the first thing I saw was the little ones playing on the swings and seesaw and for a split second I was washed over by joy. As if in that moment everything was back to normal. I felt the weight of the last 7 months lift and a spirit of normalcy, albeit for a split second, but it was a welcome feeling. To be able to see children play again is something I never would have thought I would be elated to see. It’s very hard to explain. As you might have guessed this is a boarding school. Parents were not allowed in any other space but the parking lot. We took out his stuff and the staff took over from there. There proceeded awkward hugs in the car park, kaili the friends are watching and he had to maintain a level of coolness. Then that was it. I left. I’ll tell you what when I got home, I just crawled into bed and slept. My sleep was so deep as if I had not slept in months. There was no worries, you know. Nothing to think about. No cooking, no entertaining, …. Just nothing but sleep. Eish.


How has it been for you to send your kids back to school? If that is something that you are going through right now. Let me know girl. Let me know.

Last week I wrote about my life. I must say it was a very surreal experience. I guess in my mind I have always compartmentalised these different stages in my life. I would always tell myself, “The only constant thing is change. This too shall pass.” As a coping mechanism. I had never really considered it all in its entirety. They have always been separate blocks of information. So to see it all together was actually quite fascinating. Thank you for all the love babes. I won’t lie, it was not done without fear, so I just want you to know that I felt loved, accepted and I appreciate you.

By the way, I am still in therapy. Yes gurl it is still a thing. Mmmm I feel like these last few weeks has been hard because when you you have to do the work and get into the weeds of your emotions, past, subconscious and so on, there is no hiding from yourself. What is it that they say, the truth hurts. So I find myself on a wave of emotions during the week. Because remember a therapy session is once a week, but it is my responsibility to do the work outside of the session too. You cannot just expect the one hour per week to suffice, in your healing. It is hard but I am glad for it.

Okay, can you tell me, how does your family fight? In my family we have been known to have a spat and gone on not to speak for the next 5 years. Make up for 2 years, fight again and go back to silence for another 5 years. A little exaggerated but you get the picture. So we have been in the honeymoon phase these last couple years. But low and behold an incident happened and things blew up. Not to get into the details I just wanted to talk about how this makes me feel. As I mentioned right now I am very open to my emotions and being vulnerable so I think I am feeling this more deeply than others. To be clear, I grew up in a single parent home. So when I refer to my family I am talking about my mothers side, her siblings and their children.

As a child I remember seeing the adults fall out, the repercussions of which we the children felt deeply. We, the children, grew up in each others homes for the holidays. So when a situation came up, not that we knew what it was, then the house hoping stopped. The holidays stopped (for other reasons too like changes in economic standing). It felt like when two parents divorce and the children had to pick a side. Well in our case we did not have the option to pick a side, you were just shoved into the corner of your parent. Again I was raised in a single parent home therefore, I could not fill the void by leaning more on my paternal relatives. So once there was no access to the family it really was a huge void. This happened repeatedly over the years. The older I became the more uncomfortable it became having to sit in the emotions of taking on someone else’s dispute. Think of it this way, world war 3 was declared, and the parents /generals recruited us the children in their armies. Do you see the problem here? We were child soldiers …. It was wrong, it still is wrong and will always be wrong. They drugged us with their own venomous words. The guns they gave us were a one sided account of the narrative. They brainwashed us with their own bias, ego and anger. Over the years the armies have been disbanded but then recalled to the battlefield a number of times. Post traumatic syndrome, at least in my case, was inevitable.

So when this recent battle happened, my PTSD was triggered, because now I’m a mamma and basically they were trying to recruit my child as a child soldier. Friend. Not if I can help it. If you are reading this and thinking Oh Chulu you are being dramatic. Let me tell you, children see it all. They absorb so much in their unconscious mind, and because we are so arrogant as adults to not help them process what it is they are witnessing or experiencing, their brains are left up to themselves to interpret the situation. In these battles, we inadvertently demonstrate for the children that we ourselves have no skills for conflict resolution. They go on in life and grow up believing that when a disagreement happens the correct way to respond is to catch feelings and cut off the other party. Never quite forgiving. It is so toxic.

So you think I want my children, that is my son, nieces and nephews, who are all my babies, to experience what I know to be true. No fam, get it together. I say it all the time, we have to do better. To all the generals out there, know this your actions right now may seem to be for the moment, but they are like a hand that reaches down into the future to touch generations to come. Please stop, get help. Help can be as simple as mediation by another family member or elder to talk through the problem and come to a resolution.

To the former child soldiers, baby you have got to heal.

They say in a marriage when a man and woman fight, there is no winner or loser because they are one. When things go unresolved you both lose. I think this is true for a family. There are no winners and losers. In war we are all losers because there is only death, destruction and casualties. In my family, one thing we lost was a beautiful Christmas family tradition. Back in the day, gurl, we used to have the best family Christmases. All the children at one home, we would watch Christmas movies together, play endlessly, the parents would wrap presents up the night before and try punk us that Father Christmas came through. There was laughter, love and fun. Poof, that is all gone. My son is twelve and I think maybe he experienced a shadow of the family Christmas twice in his life. We have ALL lost out.


Needless to say, it is hard to recover from a war when the root issue is not being resolved. Why did the war begin with from the beginning? No we like to deal with the source of the battle then think that peace can be maintained. That is a veil of disillusion. Deal with the root of the problem. It will not happen over night, it won’t be comfortable, in fact it will be painful. But the peace is so worth it in the end.

Think about it.


Alright chika. Time for me to bounce. Please let me know what you thought in the comments. You know I love to hear from you. If you enjoyed this and think somebody needs to hear this please do share it with them. To my new sisters, hey gurl, welcome. Make sure you subscribe so you do not miss out on juicy topics. To my live-hard listeners, thank you honey for coming back. I appreciate you. Do not forget Africana Woman is threefold now; there is the blog, the podcast AND the tribe. You can get in all of them. I also love to hear from you so let’s chat during the week on IG, @chulu_bydesign. Sweety have a fantastic week. Always remember, that my desire for you is that you love yourself, flaws n all, and attract the life that you desire. Mwuah.

Love,

Chulu


Photo: This is Sierra Leone, Borgen Magazine

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