n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Witness and archive : traumatic experiences of a child soldier in

Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



The memoir, WARCHILD: A child soldier's story (Jal 2009), though written several years after the author-narrator's experience, claims its authority from the child soldier's forced participation in a war of persecution that is narratively reworked in the child's imagination as a war of the liberation of South Sudan. This article aims to explore what happens to historical fact when the narrative shifts from the testimony of a child witness to the narrative archived in the form of memoir. Agamben (1999) seeks to explain this lacuna and his idea of the aporia at the core of narrative of testimony in memoir is useful in revealing how in a written account of the self, 'reality exceeds its factual elements'. Young (1988, 23) amplifies the paradox of 'factual testimony', such as memoir, and indicates that this genre cannot achieve the 'convincing factual authority' that it wishes to establish because of the ever present 'anxieties of displacement of events by their own texts'. Thus, the trauma experienced by the child soldier is a result of 'double dying' (Rosenfeld 1980) as he witnesses the actual physical dying and death of fellow child soldiers, as much as the death of an authentic account of self in war, produced when fictional metaphors threaten to obliterate raw experience. The article argues that metaphor's propensity to usurp historical fact is the basis upon which the narrative of the child soldier's trauma becomes the condition of possibility of remembering and recording both historical facts and the meaning of desecration and liberation.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error