January 29, 2023

BBC’s The World Today has a great series in progress on the iconic AK-47, or Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947.
They were the weapon of choice in Sierra Leone’s bloody 10-year conflict. Here’s the story of one of the many child soldiers in Sierra Leone and his AK-47.
During the three months I spent in Sierra Leone this past summer, our driver played the Akon song “AK” about 20 times a day, no lie. It will always be the soundtrack to Sierra Leone in my head. “A-Kaayayyayyayy – GUNSHOT!”

I was a small boy, 12 years old, and I was going to school when the rebels captured me and a lot of my friends. They caught my mother and father, and then killed my father in my presence. Then they went with us to the bush to go and train how to fight.
We were called the Small Boys’ Unit (SBU). They sent us to go and loot. They trained us how to load and fire guns including the AK-47. Whether attacking the government forces or civilian towns, we would take the guns.
Normally they sent us ahead to go and spy on a place, and then attacked it later. Most of those guns they used were AK-47 because the AK-47 is the most popular gun.

Our commanders instructed us to fight to defend ourselves. So I was handling my AK-47 with this in mind. I cannot remember how many people I killed. I was not really intending to do so but for the fact that I was holding this weapon to defend myself.
If you don’t fight to kill, whether anybody’s coming, whether enemy or friend, if they kill you, they or your commander will leave your body there and go.
That is why I defended myself. I killed a lot of people. I feel so bad now that I am in the town, training people for skilled jobs. I feel so discouraged for the fact that I have been killing people, so sad for the lives that I have dislodged. May God have mercy upon me.

BBC NEWS | Europe | AK-47: the Sierra Leone child soldier

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