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Brown-brown is a form of cocaine mixed with smokeless gunpowder (not "black powder"). Smokeless powder often contains nitroglycerin, a drug prescribed for heart conditions, which most likely causes vasodilation, permitting the cocaine to move more freely through the body. This, in turn, allows for a more intense high. The term may also refer to heroin.
Brown-brown is reportedly given to child soldiers in West African armed conflicts. One former child soldier, Michel Chikwanine, has written a graphic novel with Jessica Dee Humphreys called Child Soldier, about the experience of being captured at the age of 5 by rebel fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including being given brown-brown. "The rebel soldier who had hit me used a long, jagged knife to cut my wrist and rubbed powder into the wound. They called it Brown Brown -- a mixture of gunpowder and a drug called cocaine. Right away, I began to feel like my brain was trying to jump out of my head."
In media and culture
- The fictional character Yuri Orlov (portrayed by Nicolas Cage) uses the drug in the film Lord of War (2005).
- It is also portrayed being used by Liberian child soldiers during their preparations for a combat/assault mission in the French/Liberian film Johnny Mad Dog (2008).
- Several characters in the film Beasts of No Nation (2015) are seen snorting a substance, possibly cocaine, possibly heroin, that is mixed with gunpowder and burned.
- In the novel Beasts of No Nation (2005) and its 2015 film adaptation, brown-brown is used by many of the child soldiers and the Commandant.
- In What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2006), by Dave Eggers, the protagonist makes frequent references to brown-brown, the process by which he and other child soldiers were forced to become addicted to it and other drugs and how it eventually helped them "enjoy" (more precisely, cope with) the horrendous violence they perpetrated.
- Ishmael Beah describes using brown-brown, cocaine, and other drugs while he was a child soldier in Sierra Leone, in his memoir, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007)
- In 1000 Ways to Die episode 4.5, titled "Killing Them Softly" (2011), Tomo, a Sierra Leonean warlord, dies after snorting brown-brown with diamond dust in it, which cut through the lining of his lungs, breaching arteries and blood vessels.
- In Shinchan Shin Nohara's aunt Bitzi suffers from her addiction to brown-brown.
- In the video game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001), Raiden divulges his experience as a child soldier and references the use of brown-brown.
According to "The Lowdown on Brown-Brown" by Brendan I. Koerner, the use of cocaine mixed with gunpowder may be less prevalent than reports indicate, as cocaine would be difficult to source during armed conflicts, especially in the African continent. Brown pills that were referred to as cocaine were most likely amphetamine. The first actual documentation of the term "brown-brown" was a 2005 Norwegian NGO report that stated the term refers to heroin.
- "Alcohol and Drug Consumption in Post War Sierra Leone - An Exploration" (PDF). FAFO. 2005.
- "Utas: The West Side Boys" (PDF). Graduate Institute.
- Beah, Ishmael (January 14, 2007). "The Making, and Unmaking, of a Child Soldier". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
- "'Child Soldier' author shares hard truths with young readers". cbc.ca. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Chikwanine, Michel & Humphreys, Jessica Dee (2015). Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War. Kids Can Press.
- "Trigger Happy". Sydney Morning Herald. February 17, 2006. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
- "Liberia's Psychiatric Wasteland For Ex-Child Soldiers". Mail & Guardian Online. January 15, 2009. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
- "Beasts of No Nation: An African boy is recruited into the world of child soldiers in this harrowing drama from Cary Fukunaga". Rolling Stone.
- 1000 Ways to Die: Killing Them Softly (Blood Diamonds). Spike. March 9, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- "Killing Them Softly". 1000 Ways to Die. IMDb. 2011.
- Koernef, David I. (April 12, 2010). "The Lowdown on Brown-Brown". Microkhan.com.