"War is not a good thing. Too many people have been killed," 10-year-old Hamidou says matter-of-factly. He lost his father and three brothers after civil war erupted in Ivory Coast last year.
Hamidou lives with his mother in Korhogo, the northern Ivorian city still held by the ex-insurgents, now part of the national reconciliation government a year after their rebellion and referred to as the "new forces."
Life for the children living in this dry, dusty provincial capital -- one of three hubs of a Sept. 19 uprising that split the west African state in half and ruined its cocoa-based economy -- is slowly returning to normal.
A group of schoolchildren, bursting backpacks in hand, race into the streets of Korhogo at midday after being dismissed from class, laughing, yelling and jostling one another.
"You can't know how happy these children are," says teacher Alimata Ouattara, her temples gray but her face alight with hope for the future.
A debate is raging in Korhogo as to whether to count the school year, severely disrupted by months of bloody conflict, but classes are going on thanks to the determination of a core group of teachers.
They are working despite a total lack of official administration in the northern half of Ivory Coast, still held by the ex-rebels and thus outside the purview of the government of President Laurent Gbagbo.
"The most important thing is for the children to rediscover the human side of life. They are doing that now," says Broulaye Konate, an area economist and businessman.
But not all of Korhogo's children are getting an education -- some of them can be found in the streets, tempting passers-by with huge plates of cola nuts and guavas teetering atop their heads.
Drissa just earned a day's wages -- 350 CFA francs, or US$0.59 -- selling guavas that he himself picked 10km away from Korhogo. The money, he says, will make his mother very happy.
Korhogo's main marketplace is also teeming with children, darting in and out of aisles crammed with fruits and vegetables. One calls himself Maradona for the Argentine football legend, another Platini after the French star player.
"I'm really happy to see all of my friends again," says nine-year-old Mohamed.
At the start of last year's rebellion, Mohamed and his parents fled to a neighboring village, where there was no food, nothing to do. The family had returned to Korhogo, and is making the best of it along with everyone else.
"It's not easy. Until now, parents have been separated from their offspring, children have died in the conflict, but here, we want to turn the page," says Souley, a banker whose office is still closed due to the aftermath of war.
"Do you still want war?" he asks the children, who scream back a determined "No!"
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