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.”


  • Ary

    I’m reading this book,and i think it’s very interesting…I already knew sierra leone’s conditions but not so in particular…I’m from Italy and I really would like meet Ishmael…I will able to learn a lots from him.

  • Fran

    I just read this book in 2 days and must say I am absolutely amazed at how grateful I am for Ishmael’s truthfullness. I have never read a book like this before and am so enlightened by his forgiving spirit. I learned much about Sierra Leone and the heartaches the people there have experienced. While reading this book, I thought of what I probably was doing at the same time Ishmael was going through a living hell. I am even more grateful for living in America. I wish I could sit down and talk to him face to face and see if there would ever be a way to thank him for just being him!

  • I’m a freshman at St.Amant High school in Louisiana, and i wanns say that this book has really changed me. When you read it, it’s like your reading a fiction book, but it’s actually real. Ishmael Beah is my hero because throughout the book, he goes through anything and everything you can think of, and still is living today. It’s a very touching book because when you read it, you relize how good we have it in America. There isn’t people running around like crazy killing everyone in their path. Ishmael Beah’s goal in life back then was just survive the next day. Hoping he could see his family again was all he wanted. Our goals are like to be on a diet when they in Africa lived through weeks without eating. Or maybe your goal is to do good in school or get a career you love, and Ishmael couldn’t even get an education with the rebels chasing him everywhere. Out of the goodness of my heart, I am saying read this book, because you won’y not like it. You’ll love it, I promise. :))

  • I have almost completed “a long way gone” in my third day of reading. I must say though it has pierced my heart, I must say knowing what is has presently accomplished gives me hope. I was somewhat angry and dissapointed that after years of genealogical research I joyously found an ancestry in Sierra Leone, only to research further and find out about he atrocities of the civil war. Since then, I have comitted myself to helping that country in it’s recovery one village at a time. Ishmaels story, while very painful to me at the same time has really served as a motivater to wade through the beauracracy and red taped obstacles to ensure that the work I endeavor to do is accomplished. It has been difficult getting others to choose to be involved in the work of helping Sierra Leone, however, I’m sure that if they read this book, there will be no way that they can turn away from being of assistance in some manner, regardless how large or small. God bless Ishmael Beah and the many who share his experience, wherever they may be.

  • I just finished reading A Long Way Gone, and I was in awe throughout the entire book. I am not an avid reader and I was grateful that this book was assigned as a class project because it has changed my perspective on life. Many people do not know what a true struggle is, and if they were to read this book, I am sure they’d think twice before complaining about anything else. I had heard of the civil war in Sierra Leone, but did not know details. Now I am taking every opportunity to learn more about it and child soldiers.

    If Ishmael ever reads this, just wanted to commend him on a work well done and to wish him the best of luck in future endeavors.

  • Mariatu Kamara

    Ishmael, bravo. I’m one of the fortunate ones that were born in Freetown, Sierra Leone and raised in the U.S. Therefore I know nothing except of what I read in the newspaper and online. I still have family in Sierra Leone that were there during the time of the war. However no really discuss much of their endeavor. While growing up I was aware that we had to send for our family back home and send money to the ones that weren’t fortunate to come to the states so they may survive. There was no reason or explanation given.(common in our culture). Just many unanswered questions. One of my Uncle’s came with his wife and six children through the lottery program and my other uncle remained and fleed with his family to Guinea. Personally I want to thank you for answering so many question that no one in my family wanted to discuss. I was not aware of the devistation and chaos that was going on in the country. Your story touched me deeply as you mentioned areas in Freetown that I’ve heard so many times within my family. Believe it or not my family is from Kutah Road and Kissey area and many of the areas you discussed was close. Thank you so much for giving me insight appreciation for life.I plan on visiting Sierra Leone next December for the first time since I left as a child and now after reading your book it has given me so much drive and passion to go home and do what I can to benefit our country. Again Ishmael I thank you for giving me a “will” in life.

  • Queen Ester Hatchett

    I heard Mr. Beah speaking on C-Span. My heart was touched as I heard his heartbeat for deliverance for his fellow brothers. I would love to have him come to Cleveland, Ohio, one of the leading in the poorest cities in the cities. I believe he is being and has been an inspiration to whoever has or will listen to him speak. I look forward to reading the book.

  • kadiatu Dumbuya

    I was deeply move when I read your story when I visited a very close friend of your who live in monteral who also share the same story as you. As a fellowing sirra leonian who also witness the war, am gald for the comment you gave on one of your interviw “there is no romance in war” that definately true. congratulation on the peace award you guys received yesterday in montreal.

  • Aliguma

    I had to take a moment and say thank you to Mr. Beah for writing what I believe to be one of the greatest books that I have ever read. His writing style is unbeleivable. I literally could not put the book down and read it in a day. I am a Ugandan and my mother was a refugee of Idi Amin. Many of my family members did no make it out and when I read the book it became real in a way that is indescriable what not only my family but millions of families across Africa have experienced. Thank you for giving voice to the past, warning to the present of the dangers of war, and hope for the future of an world that is free of conflict.

  • Gj

    One of the best books-of this kind- that I had read.
    It should be read by many young people.
    Ishmael congratulations!!!

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