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Nervous Conditions

By ytyyyy May 18, 2009 2457 Words

African Literature
May 18, 2009

I decided to do my final paper on Violence and I am using the book Allah is not obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma. Allah is not obliged, which is about a 10 year old child soldier named Birahima, is the perfect story of a boy who seeks the wrong guidance. Birahima has recently just lost his mother and his father has been long dead and it now causes him to be an orphan. On his way to his aunts’ house, being led by Yocuba who is a thief and a con man, Birahima is forced to join a war and become a child soldier. Although Violence is the main theme that I am pursuing, I will also show how many young people will do very drastic things, even murder, just to feel as if they belong to some sort of group or organization. I will try to intertwine Birahima and his acts of violence to gangs and their acts of violence. I will also analyze and contrast the reasons behind Birahima’s acts of violence and the reasons gang members commit their acts of violence. Due to the neighborhood I live in as well, I was considering interviewing gang members I will ask them to share in detail with me why the perform the acts of violence they do. I will analyze this theme using a sociological point of view as well, showing how people who come from a lower class may decide to use violence as a source to gain more wealth. I will also analyze with violence, the mindset of Birahima that could allow such a young boy to commit such horrific crimes. Birahima is portrayed to us via his language to be a very intelligent 10 year old although some people may believe that this was just an error on Ahmadou Kouruma’s behalf because he ends up mistakenly talking as an adult instead of his 10 year old character. The fact that drugs

were used in order to promote more violence in the child soldiers is another aspect I would like to examine. Birahima is not only smart, sarcastic, and sometimes very funny but witness’s torture, amputation, and murder and still manages to maintain his “sanity”at only 10.

Violence is defined as the act of causing pain to oneself or others. This can include physical or emotional pain. Typical acts of violence include bullying, fighting, assaults of all levels, self inflicted injuries, exclusion of others within peer groups and more. Violence typically shows warning signs and indicators in early stages of a child’s life and if left without correction, can manifest into much more advanced problems. It will typically start as bullying and aggression until it can lead to major acts of violence against others or themselves. Birahima’s picture should be next to the definition of violence. First let’s analyze his opening statement for the book. “The full, final, and complete title of my bullshit story is Allah is not obliged to be fair about all things he does here on earth. Okay right. I better start explaining some stuff. That statement lets us know that Birahima is not your typical pre-teen with his vulgar language and sarcastic tone.

Let us start from the beginning. First off the fact that Birahima’s socioeconomic status is very poor will have a big impact on his behavior. Due to the fact that I live in a poor neighborhood I can see hands on that when money is non existent, people become angry and even violent to attain it and this is prevalent in Birahima’s case because now that he is a child soldier via killing his “enemies” he is able to attain things that he would not have been able to in his previous economic situation. In my neighborhood, many people lie, steal, and even murder their fellow neighbors in order to attain materialistic items weather it be something as small as

food, or an expensive car. In the source that I am using on child development and violent delinquency, titled Obstetrical Complications and Violent Delinquency: Testing Two Developmental Pathways it states “Individuals who experience both obstetrical complications and adverse psychosocial conditions such as early maternal rejection or a disadvantaged familial environment are more likely to perpetuate specifically violent crimes during adolescence and adulthood.”

Birahima is the perfect example of that because he wasn’t raised by his father and his mother died grotesquely while he was still very young causing him to be at an emotional and psychological disadvantage. The journal also states “ The interaction between obstetrical complication and psychosocial risk factors could create a vulnerability that increases the likelihood that the challenges of adolescence …. becoming acquainted with alcohol and drugs will be met with a flurry of violent behaviors.”Birahima being under the influence while committing his heinous acts of violence was a big detail in the book. This detail helps the reader to understand what state of mind Birahima was in. We understand that Birahima is prone to some sort of emotional distress for the most part because he grew up in a poor neighborhood and has lost both of his parents by age 10. Even his view on education shows that Birahima is a angry individual “Education isn’t worth a grandmothers fart anymore because nowadays even if you get a degree you’ve got no hope of becoming a nurse or a teacher in some fucked up French speaking Banana Republic.” Birahima, at such an early age already has the impression due to his environment that education is useless. “I’m disrespectful, I’m rude as a goats beard and I swear like a bastard.” And through out the book this is evident on how he speaks about his life, education, politics, and the people he has murdered. This same I don’t care attitude is prevalent in Gang members and because a lot of

them had hectic childhoods and were raised in poverty just as Birahima was. In the following pages I will, via an interview, compare why Gang members commit the acts of violence they do and point out the similarities that their child hood background have in common with that of Birahima’s. People, including myself, always want to feel as if they belong and are apart of something. People go to great extremes to join social clubs and fraternities/sororities. The feeling of being appreciated and being with other people that you feel may care about you and respect you and watch out for you is something that everyone desires. Children that come from broken homes in which parent/s are not around or if the child/children are being mistreated by their legal guardians they may seek the friendship and caring nature that they believe they will get from having friends. Gangs seem to focus on people who need to feel as if they belong. A Gang is described as a group of people who through the organization, formation, and establishment of an assemblage, share a common identity. Gang leaders know that these lost souls would do almost anything to feel as if they belong. To stay part of this group, gang members will do violent and self destructive things just to initiate and even more violent things to stay a part of it. Here is the interview that I had with a gang member on his reasons he joined the gang and what procedures he had to follow in order to initiate and stay apart of the gang. The name of the Gang is the Bloods and the gang members name Trey Duce. The following interview will be verbatim and in turn will somewhat vulgar, contain racial slurs, and not be in proper in proper English.

Trey Duce : What’s poppin blood.

Myself: Hey what’s going on. Would you mind if for one of my papers for class I asked you a couple of questions regarding being a gang member. Trey Duce: As long as you aint 5 o {police} I aint got a problem with it. Myself: Good, first question, What made you want to join this particular gang? Trey Duce: Nah I mean, I was a little youngin and my moms was shootin up and I needed someone to help me get some bread and look out for me and my lil sis and this OG {original gangster} nah I mean told me he had this group of lil homies just like me that he be looking out for. The bloods were poppin over here in my hood and my other homies who were blood always had bank rolls nah mean so since my moms was too busy shootin up to take care of me and my sis and we didn’t know our dad I new this was the way to get bread and take care of the crib. Myself: What did you have to do to join the gang

Trey Duce: My superior told me that if I wanted to prove I was down I would have to get jumped in and me and this other nigga that was joining would have to rob this nigga no one liked for his chain and bread [money]. So nah I mean me and my mans Rell that was joining one time in like January caught that nigga Tyethat no one liked in the chicken spot we had covered our faced poked[stabbed] the nigga and took his chain and bread. We gave it to our superiors he gave us a couple dollars he told us he was proud of us but we already knew what had to happen tomorrow. The next day like around 10 we went to this park that the homies roll up in at night and me and my mans Rell went there and they jumped us. That was one of the worse ass woppingsI ever got. And my superiors told us we was in 5 poppin 6 droppin su wu {gang terminology}

Myself: Wow, seems like an interesting life. Tell me whats your life been like since you have joined the bloods. Trey Duce: Nah I mean mad shit done happened. I joined this shit when I was 14 and I m . Tell me whats your life been like since you have joined the bloods. Trey Duce: Nah I mean mad shit done happened. I joined this shit when I was 14 and I m 24 now I didn’t finish high school cause I was too busy getting money in the streets niggas done robbed me for drugs I done robbed niggas for drugs I done got into shoot outs with crips cause they be coming thru flagging police be on it with me cause I stay fly and my car windows tinted mad dark. But I aint gonna lie sometimes I wish I wasn’t in this gang shit cause it gets crazy sometimes always being on your guard and not being able to trust niggas that I don’t ride with. Nah I mean though but at the end of the day my pockets fat and my niggas got my back and my sis doing good cause she go to college and I help her pay for her books and I got her a car to drive cause my sis aint taking no dam train. I stay fly and I got money on deck. What else could you want. Myself: So, in conclusion, do you plan on ever leaving this lifestyle. Trey Duce: Honestly I don’t think so, this is all I ever know and this is how I get money selling drugs and getting me and the homies to get at niggas if they try to violate. I was arrested once with a little bit of crack on me and now I m a felon so aint no nigga like me that’s black, a felon, with no education getting money without robbing niggas or selling.

Violence is the constant theme that applies to both gang members and child soldiers. On average most gang members and child soldiers come from poor families in which a parent is usually missing and or the legal guardian is unable to provide the child/children with a stable household. Birahimas mother although she tried was not able to be a competent mother due to her condition that stopped her from functioning normally. Although after his mother dies on his way to his aunt’s house he was forced to become a child soldier, it seems as if he easily becomes accustom to it, especially with the assistance of drugs. It is the sad reality that because Birahima believed that the only way for him to belong or have any physical possessions was for him to be a child soldier. I don’t honestly think that a 10 could have so much anger and hatred and evil to kill other human beings unless he was emotionally distraught. Growing up without a father, basically watching your mother die of a debilitating diseases and being poor with little formal education would make a 10 year old emotionally distraught causing him to search for something to fill that void. Birahima and the gang member that I interviewed named Trey duce chose to seek living a violent lifestyle as a way to conform to society. Trey Duce had a very similar beginning to his life due to the fact that he grew up without a father and his mother also had a disabling disease- her addiction to drugs. This caused him to lead a violent lifestyle in which he did whatever it took to provide for him and his younger sister.

I do not want to end this paper giving the impression that violence is only committed by people who come from a physically or emotionally abusing household and that everyone who acts violently is also poor. All races, economic backgrounds, and genders commit acts of violence. In Allah is not obliged references were made to many female characters who were also child soldiers and were considered to be more brutal than the boys. All in all though, if we honestly analyze Birahima’s character, along with present day violent offenders, we do see that they have a common ground. Many people turn to violence as a way to either release some emotional and/or psychological tension that they have been harboring or they may simply use violence to attain physical things such as food and clothing. In the end, unfortunately it is sad to say that people who grow up under privileged may seek violence and living a violent lifestyle in order to seek a better life.

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