The furore surrounding Emmy award winning director Cary Fukunaga’s film, Beasts Of No Nation, starring Idris Elba and the new comer, Abraham Attah, has died down a bit, but most who have seen it speak for its quality. The film has a 90% rating on criticism aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes and 7.9 stars on the internet movie database. Even comedienne of the moment Amy Schumer, has testified to its amazingness on twitter. However it would be a travesty to let the buzz of the film overshadow the issue at its heart, and that is the continued use of underage combatants in conflict around the world.
“The existence of child soldiers is one that remains extremely relevant globally,” said Uzo Iweala author of the book, Beasts of no Nation.
Iweala’s book provided much of the source material for the film which is set in an undisclosed African Nation. It follows the story of Agu (Abraham Attah) as he is conscripted into the Commandant’s (Idris Elba) vigilante group. The film is a fictional but realistic telling of the possible story of a child comatant but the issue cannot be said to be an African one. Iweala said “A number of countries have this problem. One way or another there are about 300,000 child soldiers operating in the world today from the Central African Republic to the Resistance Army to the Islamic State and the Kurdish Forces.”
This year alone, the Violations Documentations centre in Syria has recorded the deaths of 135 male and female child non-civilians. This number looks to be rising as the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that France’s first air strike at the end of September killed 12 child soldiers.
The situation will not be an easy one to solve, according to Iweala. “There are many processes involved. We can’t tell how people will act in situations of extreme crisis, and we have to take into consideration the effects of command and control.”
Iweala is pleased that after ten years of his book being published, it made it to the silver screen. He said: “It is an honour to have your work made into film by a director like Cary Fukunaga, and with talent like Idris Elba, and the young Abraham Attah.”
The film, Beasts of no Nation was screened at the London Film festival this year, is currently available on Netflix, and it opened in Nigeria last night.