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Beasts of no nation
The movie beasts of no nation tells an all too familiar story of tribal war, political war and greed. The writer does a fantastic job in bringing out the effects of war psychologically, on a generation and the way it tears families apart. Some might argue that the movie is not positive and that it does not enforce a positive picture of Africa, however it painted a very important picture of the ugliness that sometimes happens in our backyard, to awaken us so that we can examine ourselves as Africans to the reality of the ravages of war, the pain, the damage and to the fact that some people who live in this paradise actually go through hell.
There is an old African proverb that says when two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers, in the movie it shows us that the people who were responsible for declaring the war the leaders were nowhere near the bush or the area where the fighting was taking place. What really struck me was that the Chief Commandant was living in his palatial house eating good food and wearing nice clothes while people like Agu were in the bush dodging danger, fighting potential disease and hunger each and every single day. So a we have a stolen generation. Young people waste their life fighting a war that they were not instrumental in starting. They fight for a cause they really don't understand. They really have no concept of the disagreements or the politics that helped start the war. I do not believe that Agu knew or understood what they were fighting for or fighting against he was just a little boy that was given a gun and was told to shoot. What kind of lie do you have to tell yourself everyday for it to be OK in your mind to give a child a gun and a machete and tell them to kill someone.
So what do people really fight for. I remember reading a book by Ayaan called Infidel and she was recounting how her father had spent most of his life and her childhood fighting for Somalia and trying to make it a better place and an ideal country and so he had wasted his whole life trying to fight for change that was never coming. I do not doubt or am in any way undermining his nobility however no matter how pure the motive most of the time the group always gets diluted with some who are after wealth and personal gain so most times the war never really ends always one spark away from erupting if it ever dies down. And so that is the tragedy that the people who are actually on the ground fighting the war are wasting their lives while the leaders responsible for starting the war go on living in their palaces.
Idris Elba as the Commandant
As the movie drew to a close and Agu was telling the councilor that he couldn't talk to her because he had seen and done terrible things. I truly understood the statement that unless you have walked a mile in a person's shoes you cannot judge them because maybe if you were given a similar environment and situation you would have reacted the same way or maybe even worse. The movie did a really good job in showing us the humanity of Agu and child soldiers, how he was a normal child in a normal family just going through life like you and me before his world was rocked by war and everything he knew was torn apart. A lot of thoughts then rushed through my head about humanity and the human condition. The complexity of the human mind and our coping mechanisms. I began to wonder whether it is fair to label a person as bad or heartless or even evil.. Maybe we are all just doing the best we can with what we have and what we know at the time. The last question that popped in my mind was is there something or someone called an evil person or are we all just really good people who have been somehow pushed by life to do evil things...you be the judge.