By Emmanuella Agyemang
“Deadly Militia” is a short story that portrays the life of a young child soldier during the Congo War.
The gun’s weight across my chest weighs my body down as I lean my head against a tree trunk. My mind goes back to my recent combat. My eyes widen as I watch the episode unfold, causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. I feel my lips curling into a sinister smile. My gun is a dusty black AK-47 paired with a camo strap. We have quite the history.
Whenever it is time for combat, I can easily piece the gun parts together. We have done things that I cannot let depart from my lips. I begin to blink at the sight of the sunrise, my eyes focus into the forest as I adjust the camouflage-patterned hat on my low-cut hair. Living with my family, just two years ago, was more than a faint memory; it was an actuality. It is now hard to concentrate on combat when I remember my mother soothing me with a gathering song she once sang every Saturday night. I can always hear my mother’s faint voice singing, “tout le monde aime samedi soir.” I ease into her words. A few days have passed since we have taken over a village in the northern area of the city of Kananga. Soon, it will be time to leave since the Congolese government soldiers are looking to arrest rebel groups like us. Rebel groups are formed in the first place to fight for political change in the government. We are not the first and we will not be the last.
A vivid memory of my life is when I was initiated into Milice Mortelle, Deadly Militia. During my initiation, white powder was dusted onto my face, neck, and shoulders by the hands of a voodoo priest. The white powder by the same voodoo priest is applied before any combat. In doing so, I am protected by my ancestors and any spirit of death will keep away; I am invincible on the outside. But then again, I never signed up to be a child soldier. I never wanted to be invincible. A young and innocent girl is in here somewhere. I have been looked down upon, pushed around, and worst of all, almost taken advantage of. I have realized that no one is coming to rescue me. I will never get married, have children, finish school, or even touch the cheekbones of my mother and hear her say, “I am glad I have a beautiful daughter like you.”
My thoughts are soon interrupted by Commandant’s stern voice. “Get up, we need to look for more food and ammunition.” Commandant and the rest of the boys have already searched for more ammunition and food, but have come back with nothing. Commandant is a tall, imposing man from Kinshasa. Every time he takes his shirt off to do his daily push-ups I see a scar that travels from under his right pec to the bottom of his ribs. He is mysterious. I do not know Commandant’s real name. It is not something that needs to be brought up. I want to ask him questions about the life he has lived. Why do you have such a large scar? Why are you so ruthless? Or even, What happened to your family?
As I march behind Commandant, my gun now behind my back, a woman appears from behind a bush four feet away from us. Her face is flushed with fear and her colorful wrapper is stained in red. Commandant notices and steps towards her.
“Hey! What are you doing here?” His brown eyes examine her like a piece of raw meat, he is ready to pounce on her. That was his personality, he loved to pounce on any and everything that moved like a woman. My arm automatically blocks Commandant from the woman. His eyes lower to mine as he rolls them in annoyance.
The woman’s legs began to shake as she stepped back. She was getting ready to run, then she stopped abruptly and stood strangely still, eyeing me.
“Mireille,” she spoke softly. “My girl,” she said, with tears running down her face.
My eyes rise to meet hers. “Mother?”
During my brainstorming process, I knew that I wanted to have this story portray the life of a female child soldier. Before writing “Deadly Militia,” I had not heard of other female child soldiers telling their stories. Thus, I wanted this piece to represent a voice for those female child soldiers. I began on a long journey of research. Although “Deadly Militia” is completely fictional, I still wanted this piece to be accurate.
Emmanuella Agyemang is a high school junior and a Girls Write Now mentee. She is most passionate about writing and journalism. Agyemang has been featured in a few news articles and is currently on the Scholastic Magazine Teen Advisory Board. She hopes that by pursuing a career in journalism, she paves a way for other minorities to pursue journalism as well.