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.”


  • Judy

    Ishmael’s story of his fate as a child born at the wrong time and in the wrong place, Sierra Leone during a civil war has struck me to the core. I cannot begin to fathom a life of such utter despair. I feel ashamed to have taken the safety and well being of my own sons for granted. Shame on me. I pray I will find an effective avenue to help children in need.

  • I just finished reading Ishmael’s book, what a story i am a poor reader but i cant believe i read this book in two a Sierra-Leonean,i left before the war even though my hometown was attacked,fortunately none of my family was hurt. I’v heared a lot of stories about the war but A LONG WAY GONE was exceptional,appauling,and truly remarkable.I agree with the blogger, we need people like Ishmael in sierra-leone, he is a real hero.i im involve in charity programme that help people in need in my home town. i will love to meet him or hear him speak.can anyone help for his e-mail?

  • Dear All,

    Thank you for all your wonderful comments…i’m going to forward this link to Ishmeal so he can see firsthand how his book has touched you all. If you check you should be able to see a list of his speaking/reading appointments. For more on Sierra Leone….i’d suggest Aminta Forna’s “Ancestor Stones”.
    Thanks again for your comments.

  • Marcia

    Ishmael Beah is not only a heroic young man, but he is an extremely powerful and talented author. Bravo, Ishmael.

  • He needs to have a MySpace.

  • Ben

    Ishmael is a true testament to the power of the human spirit! He has a way of telling his story(probably a trait from his ancestors) which brings the reader to the forefront of the war and illuminates exactly how severe the situation over there was/is. A true inspiration! The book leaves me longing to be a better person!

  • Tim

    Ishmael writes this book with such raw power and grace it is amazing to think someone who has been through so much grief, can still find a way to maintain his positive spirit and good nature. I did not know what to think of this book when I heard about it and now that I’v read it I can say it is one of the most inspiring books that I have ever read. Hopefully I get to shake his hand one day.

  • Arjun

    I just read Ishmael’s book in 3 hours during a flight over from Singapore to Perth, Australia.I just could not put it down. It was really mindblowing and I could not believe that children were put through such horrors. The loss of innocence was just very hard to take in.

    It does make one angry and disgusted when such civil wars occur and when the world just sits by and watches hoping that it blows over. Rwanda and Sierra Leonne are just two examples of conflicts that should have had some sort of UN intervention. Why is it that so many African countries suffer in silence when the UN were so quick to jump into Afghanistan and Iraq?

    Well, I could go on till I am blue in the face.

    As Bob Marley so famously said, Wake Up and Live!

    Respect to you Ishmael.

  • I just finished reading this book for our summer-reading assignment at my highschool. I actually found it hard to keep reading, mostly because I couldn’t find the nerve to pick it up after certain points. It ended up giving me nightmares about showing up at school and being handed a gun.
    Does anyone know a way to contact Ishmael Beah? I wrote him a letter, but I don’t know how to get it to him. I can’t find an email for him, and his myspace hasn’t been used since last May.

  • Amber

    I found this book to be a very interesting and fascinating story. Very depressing, but eye opening. I know a few people from all over Africa, including Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria, and currently, a student of mine is from Sierra Leone. It’s amazing to think what happens in other parts of the world that we have no idea about. All the news we get is so sensored that we don’t know the “real” of it. I think it would be a great honor to someday sit and talk with Ishmael, not necessarily about the war, but just being in his presence and getting to know him now.

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