The Murderous Innocents 2

Apparently, the issue of child soldiers has origins far back than I expected. After coming across this info, I came to realize that it was a phenomenon that pervaded almost any nation that went to war!


According to a report as stated by, more than 120,000 children under 18 years of age have participated in armed conflicts across Africa. Some of these children are no more than 7 or 8 years of age.

Children as young as 10 worked as fighters, spies and domestic workers, some groups abducted girls into sexual slavery.

In addition to the obvious risks to children of participation in armed conflict - which apply equally to adults - children are often at an added disadvantage as combatants. As a result of being widely perceived to be dispensable commodities, they tend to receive little or no training before being thrust into the front line. Reports from Burundi and Congo-Brazzaville suggest that they are often massacred in combat as a result.

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Throughout history and in many cultures, children have been extensively involved in military campaigns even when such practices were supposedly against cultural morals.

The earliest mentions of minors being involved in wars come from antiquity. It was customary for youths in the Mediterranean basin to serve as aides, charioteers and armor bearers to adult warriors. Examples of this practice can be found in the Bible (such as David's service to King Saul), in Hittite and Egyptian art, and in Greek mythology (such as the story of Hercules and Hylas), philosophy and literature.

Also in a practice dating back to antiquity, children were routinely taken on campaign, together with the rest of a military man's family, as part of the baggage. This exposed them to harm from rearguard attacks, such as the one at the battle of Agincourt, where the retainers and children of the English army were massacred by the French.

The Romans also made use of youths in war, though it was understood that it was unwise and cruel to use children in war, and Plutarch implies that regulations required youths to be at least sixteen years of age.

In medieval Europe, young boys from about twelve years of age were used as military aides ("squires"), though in theory their role in actual combat was limited. The so-called Children's Crusade in 1212 recruited thousands of children as untrained soldiers under the assumption that divine power would enable them to conquer the enemy, although none of the children actually entered combat; according to the legend, they were instead sold into slavery. While most scholars no longer believe that the Children's Crusade consisted solely, or even mostly, of children, it nonetheless exemplifies an era in which the entire family took part in a war effort.

Young boys often took part in battles during early modern warfare. One of their more visible roles was as the ubiquitous "drummer boy" – the film Waterloo (based on the Battle of Waterloo) graphically depicts French drummer boys leading Napoleon's initial attack, only to be gunned down by Allied soldiers.

*Drummer boy John Clem during the American Civil War
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During the age of sail, young boys formed part of the crew of British Royal Navy ships and were responsible for many important tasks including bringing powder and shot from the ship's magazine to the gun crews. These children were called "powder monkeys".
During the Siege of Mafeking in the Second Boer War, Robert Baden-Powell recruited and trained 12-15 year old boys as scouts, thus freeing up the limited number of men for the actual fighting. The boys' success led indirectly to Baden-Powell founding the Boy Scouts, a youth organization originally run along military lines. At the outbreak of the First World War, boys as young as 13 were caught up in the overwhelming tide of patriotism and in huge numbers cheerfully enlisted for active service others to avoid the harsh and dreary lives they had working in British industry. (Now you know the reason the Boys Scout was actaully formed!)

By a law signed by Nicholas I of Russia in 1827, a disproportionate number of Jewish boys, known as the cantonists, were forced into military training establishments to serve in the army. The 25-year conscription term officially commenced at the age of 18, but boys as young as eight were routinely taken to fulfill the hard quota.

In World War II, children frequently fought in insurrections. During the Holocaust, Jews of all ages, including teenagers participated in the Jewish resistance simply in order to survive.
A number of child soldiers served in the Soviet Union's armed forces during the war. In some cases, orphans also unofficially joined the Soviet Red Army. Such children were affectionately known as "son of the regiment" and sometimes willingly performed military missions such as reconnaissance.

*Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) 
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On the opposite side, Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) was an organization in Nazi Germany that trained youth physically and indoctrinated them with Nazi ideology to the point of fanaticism. Lewis D. Eigen, in his article on the history of the "normality" of use of child soldiers observed:

"The Germans equipped an entire SS Panzer Tank Division and manned it with 16 and 17-year-old boys from the Hitler Youth brigades. As Germany suffered more casualties, more teenagers volunteered and were accepted, initially as reserve troops but then as regulars. The German ethic of the boy soldier not only encouraged such service but towards the end of the war, the Germans even drafted boys as young as 12 into military service. These children saw extensive action and were among the fiercest and effective German defenders in the Battle of Berlin."

 *German kid prisoners of war in the streets of Berlin, May 1945
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In some cases, youth organizations were, and still are, militarized in order to instill discipline in their ranks, sometimes to indoctrinate them with propaganda and prepare for subsequent military service.

In preparation for the possible invasion of Japan by the Allies, Japanese military authorities also trained young teens to charge the enemy with bamboo spears. Prior to that, Japanese school children experienced increased military training introduced through their physical education classes, with military drills becoming a staple part of their curriculum.

There's so much info on the child soldier phenomenon but I've tried to simplify key info as much as possible from what I gathered. And I guess from the look of things, its not a new thing but something thats always been there and part of history.

*Sudanese child soldier
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I guess it makes sense to say, its a necessary evil that comes with wars, and I guess the more we reduce wars, the more we reduce the risk of annihilating future generations on bloody battlefields.

7 Screamer(s):

The Murderous Innocents 1

I remember the first time I saw the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’. I was shocked to the marrow and prayed that such genocide would not happen in Nigeria (Though we’ve had similarly close cases already!). Then I saw ‘Sometimes in April’ which was far more horrific than ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and I almost wept as I imagined these terrible things happening to people in Africa.


The first ever of such movies I saw was ‘The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin’, a movie so real in its depiction that rumors were rife amongst we ignorant ones that it was real life being documented.
‘Blood Diamond exposed the brutal shedding of blood and war by greedy folks all because of diamonds. The ‘Long sleeve or short sleeve’ scene scared my thoughts vividly.


‘Lord of War’ showcased how weapons were illegally sold to African Rebels to help them gain ground over the war. I can never forget the credit opening scene which followed the process of a bullet being manufactured up to the point it ends up being fired into the skull of a child.

More movies everyday depicting the horrors of civil wars and genocides in Africa have been made but I came across a movie with a shocking and very different perspective recently that made me go looking for facts.

I’m talking of Jean-Stephane Sauvaire’s 2008 movie, ‘Johnny Mad Dog’

The movie was extracted from a book by the same tile, written by Emmanuel Dongala, a Congo citizen who fled the country in 1997 during its civil war and now lives in western Massachusetts.
The film focuses on a group of child soldier commandos, led by 15 year old Johnny, who are part of a Rebel faction bent on seizing control of war-torn Congo. They rob, pillage and slay everything in their path and bear names like No Good Advice, Small Devil, Jungle Rocket, and Young Major.

At the same time we also follow the story of Laokolé, also the same age, who simply wants to finish high school and become an engineer. She tries to escape her war torn country with her little brother Fofo, 8 and in the process crosses paths with Johnny as the story progresses.

The acting of the children in this movie was so realistic that I went online on a fact finding mission as to how Jean-Stephane Sauvaire achieved this. I discovered that the kids were actually former child soldiers from the Liberian civil war. They didn’t need to be actors; all they had to do was act what they did during the war. The location shoot was actually in Liberia which had a lot of war torn areas that were apt for the scenes.

To imagine kids like this fighting in the war terrified me; they were younger, had more energy than adults, that apart from being introduced to all manner of drugs and ‘jazz’ to enhance their performance, and they were very deadly as shown by the bloodthirsty No good advice, Johnny’s second in command.

My mind wandered further. How on earth did child soldiers come into existence? Almost, if not every war in Africa has had the factor of kid soldiers being recruited to fight in the war. Is it the poverty level or some other third world factor that makes this happen? I went a-searching and I found shocking results…

To be continued... 

14 Screamer(s):

Bizzare Jobs From History 2

The bizarre jobs people got themselves occupied with in the past will just never cease to amaze me…and I’m sure you as well. Did you think the jobs from the first entry were bizarre? Here’s more!



The name gave me a ridiculous first impression when I came across it. The first thing that popped into my head was – did these guys piss for a living? It’s good not to jump to conclusions so quickly ‘cause it wasn’t exactly what I thought it was.

The urinatores were salvage divers from Ostia. The name – with its similarity to urine – is probably a reference to the fact that the deep diving caused so much pressure on their abdomens that they urinated a lot. (What! So if I had a job of tasting the sugar level of a malt factory and it made me shit more regularly would that make my job get named something like ‘Shitmaestro’?)

The divers had but one tool – a kettle shaped diving bell filled with air for breathing and weighed down with lead weights – to help the divers reach up to 30 meters below the surface. Their job was primarily salvage but they also moved construction equipment around. The dangers in this job are obvious but the pay was good – with many of the divers becoming very affluent members of the Roman society.

Na wah oh! Aristocrats with ridiculous careers.

Litter Carrier


Okay. I am now convinced that in the past, people lacked the ability to properly name jobs. A litter carrier sounded like one who emptied the trash on a regular basis. But I was shocked that it was something else…

The litter carrier was a slave whose job it was to cart women (and later men) around in little carriages. It was a hard job and a tedious one and could be dangerous (picture carrying a carriage up a flight of stairs!) The litter carriers were usually dressed in fine garments and the litters became more and more extravagant over the years. In fact, in later years many wealthy romans had windows of glass in their litters instead of the traditional curtains. Documents from the Roman times tell us that it was very uncomfortable to travel by litter as it could make one sea sick. This job has remained to a certain extent in that there is a group of men trained to carry the Papal Sedia Gestatoria (a throne carried on men’s shoulders). The sedia was last used in the 1980s but may make a come back due to recent security complications surrounding Pope Benedict XVI.

I wonder why that is but I sincerely don’t want to know.


The gymnasiarch had a busy job in ancient Greece due to the popularity of athletics. Despite being a dirty job – the gymnasiarch had to oil and scrape the athletes as well as tidy up after wrestling matches and the gymnasium in general, the position was highly sought after by the rich as it was considered the epitome of philanthropic occupations. To qualify as gymnasiarch you had to be between 30 and 60 and you have a large net worth. One benefit of the job was that you got to carry a stick with which to beat sullen youths who misbehaved in the gym.

Hmm…sounds like a sports prefect from a Nigerian high school, a barber and a janitor all in one!

Orgy Planner

Boy! The name says it all O! Just as you have wedding planners, so also did the Romans have orgy planners!

The orgy planner had a very unusual job – he got to plan festivities for the rich of society and, in some cases, got many perks (which I am sure you can imagine without me spelling it out). The orgy planner had to organize food, women, music, and accommodation. The downside to the job is that the orgy planner was not liked by all members of society (particularly those who were never invited to orgies) and the trade was even banned for a short time. The most famous orgy planner was Gaius Petronius who is most famous for writing the satirical book about Roman debauchery called Satyricon.

Hmm…do we have something close to this today? Well, the closest to this would be anybody who decides to throw a very 'bad' party at home when his or her parents aren’t around! Only they don’t get paid to do so, lol!

Funeral Clown

The funeral clown was paid to dress up as the dead person, wear a mask of his face, and dance about acting like him. The Romans believed that this would placate the spirits of the dead and bring joy to the living. As the funeral processed, the funeral clown would run alongside the corpse with other clowns making jokes and mimicking the dead. Some clowns were very highly regarded and even got to mock the emperor at his funeral. They were well paid and an oddly happy diversion from the clowns regular job as the head of a mime troupe.

Making fun of dead people for a living? I wonder why they don’t do this anymore. Probably because it became way too sensitive to those mourning. These Romans sef!


A slinger was a man trained to use the sling. The sling was an essential part of roman military strategy because it was more effective (both in distance and damage) to an arrow. As a child, slingers-in-training would be required to kill their dinner – no kill, no food. It was an extremely good way to get youths trained fast. The slinger could throw stones up to one pound in weight and they could be used accurately up to 200 meters.

A job you start preparing for from young age…hmmm. Where they inspired to develop this job after hearing of what David did to Goliath in the Bible?

Whipping Boy

A whipping boy, in the 1600s and 1700s, was a young boy who was assigned to a young prince and was punished when the prince misbehaved or fell behind in his schooling. Whipping boys were established in the English court during the monarchies of the 15th century and 16th century. They were created because the idea of the Divine Right of Kings, which stated that kings were appointed by God, and implied that no one but the king was worthy of punishing the king’s son. Since the king was rarely around to punish his son when necessary, tutors to the young prince found it extremely difficult to enforce rules or learning. Whipping boys were generally of high birth, and were educated with the prince since birth. Due to the fact that the prince and whipping boy grew up together since birth, they usually formed an emotional bond. The strong bond that developed between a prince and his whipping boy dramatically increased the effectiveness of using a whipping boy as a form of punishment for a prince. The idea of the whipping boys was that seeing a friend being whipped or beaten for something that he had done wrong would be likely to ensure that the prince would not make the same mistake again.

Another job that proves that ancient English people were serious oddballs. First; this was a job for a youngster. Second; the job description involved being a scapegoat all the time - getting whipped for a living.

Are these jobs bizarre or what? In those days they probably weren’t. And who knows, maybe a lot of our jobs today will be seen as oddball professions in the future!


9 Screamer(s):

Bizzare Jobs From History

*Happy Belated Easter to you all!* 

Everybody has to work to make a living one way or the other but just as the world is full of different people, it’s also filled with different jobs. Today, there are jobs that are cool but at the same time there are jobs that are just too bizarre for many of us to be involved in.

But its not the first time we’re having some really strange occupations one can call jobs. Way back in the past bizarre jobs had always existed.

Here are a list of such jobs as I gathered online.



A Knocker-up was a profession in England and Ireland that started during and lasted well into the Industrial Revolution, before alarm clocks were affordable or reliable. A knocker-up’s job was to rouse sleeping people so they could get to work on time. The knocker-up often used a long and light stick (often bamboo) to reach windows on higher floors. In return, the knocker-up would be paid a few pence a week for this job. The knocker-up would not leave a client’s window until they were assured the client had been awoken. This all leads to the obvious question: who knocks up the knocker-up?
Gosh! If this kind of job still existed, I would do it on the side with my actual full time job. That’s because I’m an early riser freak.


Imagine being paid to make fun of Royalty for a living. The Jester is the fool who was permitted to insult the king without losing his head – as long as it made the king laugh. It was a job that came with accolades and with fear. It is also a job unlike any existent today. How many families do you know that employ a private “comedian” so to speak?
But, while the job did vanish from history for hundreds of years, as recently as 1999 one Kingdom (Tonga) has appointed an official jester. In a bizarre (and very amusing) twist, the man appointed happened to also be the government’s financial advisor. He was later embroiled in a financial scandal. The American jester to the Tongan court was Jesse Bogdonoff and he is pictured above.

Toshers and Mudlarks


A tosher was someone who scavenges in the sewers, especially in London during the Victorian period. The toshers decided to cut out the middle man and it was a common sight in 19th Century Wapping for whole families to whip off a manhole cover and go down into the sewers, where they would find rich pickings. As most toshers would reek of the sewers, they were not popular with the neighbors. Similarly, the mudlarks were people who would dredge the banks of the Thames in the early morning when the tide was out. They would have to wade through unprocessed sewerage and even sometimes dead bodies in order to find little treasures to sell.
This job just rang a bell in my head – the fact that they still exist today in Nigeria. Ever seen to a Lagos refuse dump lately? You’ll see them there, so many of them, scavenging the heaps. They used to have a knickname amongst some Lagosians– ‘Alumi’. But the western world today would rather refer to them as ‘Recyclers’ or ‘Scavengers’.

Stercorarius and Gong Farmer

Ancient Rome was famous for its extensive sewer system. But despite having such an advanced method of dealing with poop, there was the problem of the smells that would leak into people’s homes and the rats and other vermin that lived in the sewers. This meant that most houses needed to deal with their poop in some other way. This is where the Stercorarius comes in. He would travel door to door collecting all the human waste and cart it off to the edge of town where farmers would buy the dung for their crops.


A gong farmer or gongfermor was the term used in Tudor England for a person who removed human excrement from privies and cesspits, gong being another word for dung. Gong farmers were only allowed to work at night and the waste they collected, known as night soil, had to be taken outside the city or town boundaries. As flushing water closets became more widely used, the profession of gong farming disappeared. A latrine or privy was the toilet of the Middle Ages. A gong farmer dug out the cesspits and emptied the excrement. Gong farmers were only allowed to work between 9 pm and 5 am, and were permitted to live only in certain areas, for reasons that should not be too elusive.
Due to the noxious fumes produced by human excrement, coroners’ reports exist of gong farmers dying of asphyxiation. This was obviously a shit job to have. Imagine what the gravestone would read, ‘Here lies our dear Mr. packer who died from the smell of shit’

Crap…another bell goes off in my head. Is this not the same thing we used to have in Nigeria way back in the early 1980s called Night Soil men? People who pack and dispose your shit for a living?
Oh…and I googled that name ‘Stercorarius’ and found that it was the biological name of a dung beetle that feeds on the shit of herbivores.

Dog Whipper

Sometimes I wonder the kind of people that lived in these ages. There are some careers that can make yell WTH?? - like the Dog Whipper.
A Dog Whipper was a church official charged with removing unruly dogs from a church or church grounds during services. In some areas of Europe during the 16th to 19th centuries it was not uncommon for household dogs to accompany – or at least follow – their owners to church services. If these animals became disruptive it was the job of the dog whipper to remove them from the church, allowing the service to continue in peace. Dog whippers were usually provided with a whip (hence the title) or a pair of large wooden tongs with which to remove the animals. They were generally paid for their services, and records of payments to the local dog whipper exist in old parish account books in many English churches.

Groom of the Stool

The Groom of the Stool was a male servant in the household of an English monarch who, among other duties, “preside[d] over the office of royal excretion,” that is, he had the task of cleaning the monarch’s anus after defecation. In the early years of Henry VIII’s reign, the title was awarded to minions of the King, court companions who spent time with him in the Privy chamber. These were the sons of noblemen or important members of the gentry. In time they came to act as virtual personal secretaries to the King, carrying out a variety of administrative tasks within his private rooms. The position was an especially prized one, as it allowed one unobstructed access to the King’s attention. Despite being the official bum-wiper of the king, the Groom of the Stool had a very high social standing.
Uugh!! Thank God I was born in this century and not into a noble family! I just can’t fathom this – mopping an old geezer’s ass after taking a crap! But I know some people who wouldn’t mind if the pay was good (plus the connection to the king). But we have people with similar jobs today – those guys that attend to you after using the toilets. The only thing is, wiping your ass is not part of their job description.

Curse Tablet Maker

Curse tablets were thin sheets of soft lead which had curses written on them. The curses were then affixed by nails to the altars or walls of temples. The poor curse tablet writer had to sit day in and day out hearing the complaints and woes of his customers who needed curses written. Fortunately many of these curse tablets have survived to modern times so we can get a glimpse of life and the way thinking of the Romans. Here is one example: “bind every limb and sinew of Victorius, the charioteer for the Blue team.. the horses he is about to race… blind their eyes so they cannot see and twist their soul and heart so they cannot breathe.”

Ha! If this was still in existence as a profession, I might make a bit of fortune. All I have to do is just sit with my indigenous Yoruba folks, those people sabi curse! That is one tribe with a repertoire of curses that English language will never be able to translate.

There are more funny and odd professions but I'll stop here for the sake of this post becoming too long. Maybe I'll put more up in a second post...maybe!


9 Screamer(s):