Seeing the upcoming Hollywood biopic, documentary, and books are going to generate a whirlwind of interest, (and controversy) around Mr. Childers, I wanted to weigh in on this in regards to a character in the upcoming Eshu International novel, SHIFT TENSE.
Shift Tense is set some 50 years in the future in what is then the quasi-nation of Somaliland. The crew of Eshu International is caught in the crossfire of a nasty civil war around the increasingly valuable mineral resource COLTAN. There’s killer robots, pirates, child-soldiers, crazy dictators, hostile rival mercenaries and a lot more, but that’s the gist of the story. A number of the characters from RUNNING BLACK show up again, as well as a new character named Pim Visser.
A rather delusional Dutchman, Herr Visser firmly believes the mantle of Sam Childers has fallen on him decades later, and he has inserted himself in the warzone, ostensibly to rescue children from a short, brutal existence as conscripted fighters for the SPLA, or Somaliland People’s Liberation Army. A noble and hazardous calling… Only hitch is while the children he’s trying to rescue have been starved, terrorized and in many cases orphaned, they haven’t been kidnapped, brainwashed, or forced to fight. They are volunteers with a cause.
The current President-for-Life of Somaliland, General Dhul_Fiqaar, is pursuing a social revitalization plan straight out of the Khmer Rouge handbook. He’s ordered government troops to systematically slaughter dissenting towns and villages. They’ve done so in a rabid blood-soaked zeal fueled by decades of tribal animosity, usually employing the old-school machete and mass grave method, but more recently with the help of advanced remote robotic weapons systems supplied by Dhul-Fiqaar’s corporate partners.
A majority of the children who survived these attacks are relatively safe in the squalor of several UN IDP Camps. (Internal Displaced Persons, i.e. refugees) However, a number of them join the SPLA to avenge their families and overthrow a corrupt and appallingly vicious regime. Right or wrong, they are – for lack of a better word – volunteers.
Writing-wise, I need to go on record with the fact that I outlined the novel’s plot and created the deliberately ambiguous character of Pim Visser over a year ago. In my novel, he’s one of those self-appointed posers prompted by a convoluted mix of ego, compassion, and delusion that has gratuitously inserted himself in a complex and violent situation he utterly fails to understand. He is a pale imitation who knows only enough to make himself dangerous to everyone.
I want to make it clear that from what I’ve learned about Sam Childers through interviews, videos, and similar sources, I have only the utmost respect for him and his work in Sudan. If a sociopath like Joseph Kony kidnapped my grandson and Sam said he could get him back, I wouldn’t care one bit how he did it. And if he managed to put two in the hat of the guy that grabbed him, I wouldn’t loose any sleep over it.
I’ve already got a copy of Sam’s BOOK and I plan on seeing the film. For the record, the fictional character of Pim Visser is in no way a slight or an off-hand cheap shot at Sam Childers or his efforts.