Onion News Network on Compulsory Childhood Politics as Community Service
In the following video, “Human Rights Group Campaigns to End Use of Child Politicians in Africa,” the Onion News Network brilliantly satirizes the hypocrisy and shallowness of politics, compulsory education, government-mandated childhood community service, child abuse, and the view that children should be groomed to seek political office.
Female Host: For years now we have all heard the tragic stories of the child soldiers in Africa. But now children there are being exploited in a much more, heart-breaking way.
Male Host: That’s right. According to several human rights organizations, young boys as young as seven years old are being kidnapped and forced into life as child politicians. And joining us here in the studio is one of those former child politicians. He has written this book, What I Saw: Memories of a Child Politician, Sheku Mohammed. And from UNICEF, Wesley Harbin. Thank you guys for being with us this morning.
Female Host: Wesley, help us understand this senseless cruelty.
Harbin: Well, it’s hard to imagine, Tracy, but in Africa, boys like Sheku are torn from their families. They’re taken to training camps and forced to run for government office against their will. They’re bound and gagged, they’re given talking points.
Male Host: Politics is sad enough when it just adults involved, but when you force children into that kind of activity, that’s beyond disgusting.
Harbin: It is. These kids are marched off to villages where they go from house to house, trying to get votes. Shaking hands, complimenting the food at local restaurants.
Female Host: That’s terrible.
Harbin: They’re forced to memorize the names of thousands of local sports teams.
Male Host: My God.
Female Host: Sheku, is this what happened to you?
Mohammed: Yes, they broke into my house. They threatened to rape my sisters unless I’d run for the open seat in Parliament in the district. I was only eleven.
Male Host: Unbelievable.
Female Host: Mother, it breaks my heart to see children like this.
Mohammed: It was just horrible. All day and night, waving, giving thumbs up.
Male Host: Of my goodness.
Mohammed: I was never allowed to rest.
Harbin: A former Prime Minister from Uganda, he’s twelve now, he told me that his adviser would cut his arms with knives and pack cocaine into the wounds so that he would stay up for days on end, talking to farmers about protecting their jobs.
Male Host: No child should ever have to pander for votes like that.
Mohammed: On the campaign trail, when I saw a baby, I just grabbed it and kissed it. I didn’t care whose it was.
Male Host: Ohhh.
Female Host: So sad, you didn’t have a choice.
Mohammed: I was lucky because I escaped. But, most of my childhood friends are still politicians.
Harbin: And the victimization is not limited to boys. Young girls are often forced to become politicians’ wives against their will. Made to wear elaborate hairdos, they have to stand next to their child-politician husbands smiling, but they’re warned that if they speak, they’ll be killed.
Female Host: Oh, it’s so sad.
Male Host: The book again is What I Saw: Memories of a Child Politician. Go out and buy it. It will make you glad to be an American.
HT: Julie Sheppard