Sierra Leone: claiming Ishmael Beah

A Siera Leonean blogger claims Ishmael Beah, the author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, “However, as a Sierra Leonean, I don’t want Ishmael to be a Universalist. I want very badly to claim him as Sierra Leonean and to own his experience as part of our collective Sierra Leonean experience and recent history. I understand the need to draw attention to the international plight of children used as carriers, sex slaves, and soldiers but Sierra Leone badly needs Ishmael Beah to represent us too. In a country where so few of us ordinary citizens ever get an opportunity to “talk truth to power” in the international community we need someone who has that opportunity to do so for sweet Sierra Leone.”


  • Melissa

    I agree with you, I have read his book and in my personal heart, I feel he is representing Sierra Leone fully and the lessons he is teaching are fully linked to Sierra Leone and its wounds and healing. I pray to God that the healing is to be for now and ever for the Siearra Leonean population.

  • I have read his book and I had no words but to say that it is a true heroic but painful storry of a boy growing up in such African hostility.
    It’s my prayer and hope that all the African Peoples would read Beah’s storry and think about our future as brothers and sisters of African descent.
    I admire that young man and I hope he continues his goal as an activist for the world peace and freedom for the children in war “Child Soldiers”.
    And As far as his return in Sierra Leone is concerned. ” I still believe He needs time or It’s his decision as an African to think about it and if he finds it in his heart to give such a “sacrifice to his continent” He should return and educate his people. My only worry is his security. I don’t want him to follow Lumumba’s footsteps

  • Vickie Remoe-Doherty

    Hello James,

    Thank you for your comment. I’ve met Ishmael several times he is really incredible. He has no interest in politics..he’s actually a social activist working very hard with human rights watch and other orgs…to raise awarenedd about the use of children in war. I dont think that he could ever become Sierra Leone’s Lumumba (thank God). The context is completely different…the CIA is not gunning for him.
    Additionally his experience and the civil war in Sierra Leone were not as a result of a lack of education. Many Sierrra Leoneans were affected by the war and the nation is in the process of reconstruction. There was a Truth and Reconcilliation Commissionset set up by the UN which was a very useful in the reconcilliation effort.

    Thanks again for your comment

  • Angela

    Dear All, i met Ishmael before i knew of his story, and i would like to tell you what i experienced from that angle. He is a wonderful person, good listener, always carries a smile, no vengance or such, very charismatic as well.
    We became friends and i couldnt tell at any point of time on what he actually went through, till when we got to discussing that.
    What i am trying to say is, i learnt alot of lessons from him. Before i knew of his story i liked him as a person who tackles issues very peacefully, good observer. Then after knwowing his past story apart from getting the message of how bad and devastating such situation actually is, i think he actually represents a promise of the future. And he surely plays that role by not only being a Sierra leonnean, but a young person, hence even from other sides of the world we can replace his situation to ours and learn from it.
    I think he represents a lesson that we should all learn, and not individually only but as nations so we use this past to not repeat the mistakes to our future.

  • Lesleen

    I just recently befriended a Sierra Leonean family, who have relocated to the Gambia after the war. Although they have shared with me stories of the war, it wasn’t until I read Ishmael’s book that it really dawned on me. I must commend this young man for his endurance and perseverance. Ishmael has potentials that are yet to be discovered. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
    PS. Is there an email address through which I can contact him?

  • Gene Glover

    I don’t know my Website URL. Can I still be contacted?

    Gene Glover

    PS. I loved the book by Ishmael Beah and would like to help in any way in his endeavors.

  • Kristi

    I have also read “A Long Way Gone”. My question is: is it possible to hear him (Beah) speak somewhere? I know the Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) is taking place right now in New York, and he is one of the key speakers, but I couldn’t find a schedule from their site. Well, I don’t even know if it would be possible for me to check any of the conference’s events out… Maybe not. If anyone can point anything out to me regarding this, I would appreciate it!

  • Paco

    The book Ishmael wrote captured me in a way that made me finish the whole book in two days! But honestly, Ishmael’s testimony changed my life. I have the greatest respect for the survivors of the war. I have the greatest respect for the people in Africa enduring in struggling places like Sudan (Darfur). I wish I could e-mail Ishmael myself. By any chance is there anyone who knows his e-mail?

  • Stephanie Goins

    I did field research in Sierra Leone in January 2002 and am now working on a doctoral thesis focusing on reintegration of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone.
    After reading Ishmael’s book, I thought it would be so helpful to email him, or meet him face to face. I have questions that only people with his experience can answer.
    Can anyone help me?

  • Maame

    I just finished reading Ishmael’s book, and like everyone else, I was deeply touched. The first pages almost made me cry, but as I went on, I was able to smile as I saw glimpses of hope in his story. After reading the book, I almost felt like I knew Ishmael somehow, and I know it must have been very difficult for him to share this personal story. But I am glad that he did, and I thank God for preserving his life because he has clearly become an inspiration to many. Ishmael, if you ever get to read this – thank you for staying strong, and for sharing. You chose to make a positive impact on the world despite the negative experience you endured. God bless you, and I pray that everyone who reads your book will be motivated to take a stand to protect our children.

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