Thursday, October 11, 2007


"One boy grabbed my neck from behind. He was squeezing for the kill, and I couldn't’t use my bayonet effectively, so I elbowed him with all my might until he let go. He was holding his stomach when I turned around and stabbed him in his foot. The bayonet stuck, so I pulled it out with force. He fell, and I began kicking him in the face. As I went to deliver the final blow with my bayonet, someone came from behind me and sliced my hand with his knife. It was a rebel boy, and he was about to kick me down when he fell on his face. Alhaji had stabbed him in the back. He pulled the knife out, and we started kicking the boy until he stopped moving. I wasn’t sure whether he was unconscious or dead. I didn’t care. No one screamed or cried during the fight. After all, we had been doing such things for years and were all still on drugs. "
Exert from the book..

My sister Sheeva Butler who's African American has been trying to convince me for weeks now to read the haunting memoirs of Ismael Beah.

What prompted you to read this book by Ismael Beah? truthfully i saw a woman in the subway with her whole face in the book as if she wanted to jump in to the pages herself, i sneaked a peak at the title and saw a little black boy on the cover with a gun, then when I saw the title A Long way Gone memoirs of a boy soldier something drew me and i rushed to purchase the book when i got off the train since then I have bought two copies.

What did you know prior reading this book about the struggle of the children/soldiers? i knew of child soldiers from movies that i have seen most recent Blood Diamonds and others, but when i read "A Long Way Gone "I could feel the heartbeat of Ishmael I held the book in my arms like I held a baby, What I thought I knew could never amount to the reality of the scenes drawn in my mind from Ishmael Beah's memoirs. A Long Way Gone has brought the struggle of the young, the old, men, women and children to the surface that this is really happening. The children are so innocent and their innocence was brain washed into kill or be killed, their trust was wiped away and the feeling of love was buried. The children feast on cocaine, marijuana, gunpowder and war movies that makes killing a natural boost for them they enjoy doing but they don't realize what they are doing. The amazing part of the book that we fail to realize is when these children are saved from this lifestyle and taken to rehab the withdrawals they go through being civilized is a foreign nature, it isn't natural to them anymore these kids are institutionalized by the war and their mind wont let them escape the war. Its heartbreaking but it also brings strenght to those that overcome and tell the story such as Ishmael did. Ishamel's voice is illuminating and his voice demands attention to this breathing nightmare that is happening around the world that no one knows about.

Describe us 1 part of this book that really touched your heart? The book touched my heart from the opening statement. There isn't one thing that outweighs the other when i think of the details of his writing i can not give one thing that touched me there where times when he mentioned he would smile and i would smile there where times when he was scared and i was scared with him. when he was angry i was angry when he was in danger i was in danger..Ishmael pulled me into the pages of his book as if i was a little girl fighting the same war feeling the same way.

What are u left thinking about sierra leone? From Ishmael's words on how he felt about his country it makes me feel as if Sierra Leone is on of the most beautiful places on the earth with the most compassionate people. His words never put a negative connotation about his country. It was just two powerful groups that were very compassionate in what they believed the rebels actually thought they were fighting for freedom and the soldiers were fighting to protect their country's freedom...the two groups were seeing the truth that looked right to that individual group they didn't see the absoulte truth that was right for all, i want to visit sierra Leone along with other parts of Africa i would love to see that was just a bad era.

As an African American woman what are the similarities and differences btw u and the people of sierra Leone? of course we have differences in culture, but the fact remains that we bleed the same way we breath the same air, every government has its problems Americans also had a civil war 3 million people fought and over 600,000 people died and it was Americans killing americans dying and killing for what they thought was right in theyre own eyes..

why would you recommend reading this book? i recommend schools read this book it is graphic but it is real i recommend adults read this book it will definitely change your life, it changed mine.

How do u think this conflict could be resolved? education, if the people understood what message each other was trying to convey maybe it could have been a compromise that didn't lead to war.

What would you tell its author now? Ishmael Beah you are a warrior a true leader Thank you for your story Thank you for your life thank you for your message. Thank you for teaching us the life of a boy solider. You have shared an amazing gift to the world, You shared you.

Thank you Shee Shee, you are def'the reason why at first I will go pick up this book.
Your compassion towards him, the feelings that you've shared about this book makes me feel like it's 1 must read.

Furthermore,This is what I found out about him.
A 27 year old Sierra Leonan young man who've seen atrocious, horrible things, who has lost part of his humanity just like thousands of other children during the civil war in Sierra Leone. We've all heard and shared the common human sentiment of compassion when we've heard about these children, but just like any sad news that we see on CNN, ABC, TF1, or other local channels wherever you are, we wanna forget after 5 seconds and go back to worrying about mundane events. Right at that point God says they are not hearing me , they're not listening...let me send someone who will wake them up, make them understand that crimes such as this, because yes it's a crime to not allow Innocent children to play, to dream ,to run around freely---it's a crime to turn them into murderers...Ismael is 1 of those people that these adults emotionally robbed , when he was only 13.

After his father and brother were killed, his house became the forest,
his job killing people, the food he ate : amphetamines, marijuana, and some type of mix of gun powder and you tell me does that sound like what you did at 14 years old.

Ismael had the same shedule for 3 years, killing people, seeing friends getting killed.. The rain has to stop eventually right, and the sun -the UNICEF had to shine. Ismael and other children were rescued by the UNICEF, the transition between losing a sense of feeling, and regaining it was not easy as you can easily guess it. You can't consider human beings as things and then wake up another day and have 2 love them....Can you also imagine finding yourself in a classroom full of other children who know nothing about violence while you know that you've been there not only emotionally but had to feel like a game...

Ismael was sent 2 angels in his life, the first one a nurse who helped it get out temporally of his emotional jail by introducing him to hip hop, the second one the woman he calls his mother today Laura Simms. Just like any good mother would do, she nurtured him without asking him too many questions because she knew he wasn't ready. She encouraged and enrolled him to Oberlin College where he graduated w/ a degree in International Politics. He now lives in Brooklyn and works for a non -profit organization-Human Rights Watch.

Of course it's not the typical rosy end of the story, this man has to relive his story each time he shares it at presentations, conferences.It's a necessary evil, because he was divinely chosen to bring awareness to this issue, but I'm left wondering is this peace for him?

Here's 1 great interview of him:
Here's the official webbie :
Here's a video clip of him talking about his book


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