This is a true story written by Ishmael Beah about his experience of being a boy soldier. The experience was truly cannot being explained from the outsider. After reading the book, I am still not understand why did the refugee became such a cruel person even to their own people?
Ishmael start the book by telling us about himself, his village (Mogbwemo), his friend and how much they were into hip hop music which lead them to leave the village where there is an attack taken place after they were leaving to Mattru Jong.
When the refugee had come to the village they just keep on running from them, afraid of being killed, being shot or being recruited. He describe it this way..
" But we had no choice, we had to make it across the clearing because, as young boys, the risk of staying in town was greater for us than trying to escape. Young boys were immediately recruited, and the initials RUF were carved where ever it pleased the rebels, with a hot bayonet. This not only meant that you could never escape from them, because escaping with the carving of the rebels' initials was asking for death, as soldiers would kill you without any questions and militant civilians would do the same."
Then, when they were hidden in the swamp, Ishmael do not want to keep hiding and wait for death so he decided to go somewhere else. Alone, 5 days and not a single human found. The sad thing was he did finally found a bunch of people, a family but they seem to be not trusting him at all.. He wrote..
"It was glad to see other faces and at the same time disappointed that the war had destroyed the enjoyment of the very experience of meeting people. Even a twelve-year-old couldn't be trusted anymore.."
Can you feel and describe the experience of the war through this? For me, it is an absolute YES..
He continued the journey, live in the jungle alone for a few days and met 6 other children that he know. He join them and then they were known as 'the seven boys' . Here the journey continues and a lot of tragedy happen along the way. They live by helping each other and sometimes they quarrelling and they shared their past memories with their families together. Here, the character grow.
Then, one of them die and they settle down at a village live with the army. When a war begin near the village they are forced to joined the soldiers. This is the important point where Ishmael who is only a very good boy had been recruited to become such a cruel person.
They are brainwashed to become cruel due to their bad experience with the rebels. They were trained to killed and not a normal type of killing but killing without humanity. They had been brainwashed, for this he wrote..
" Over and over in our training he (lieutenant) would say that same sentences:
Visualize the enemy, the rebels who killed your parents, your family, and those who are responsible for everything that has happened to you"
After 2 years in the army, they were taken away by the UNICEF. However, now they are not a regular kids. They are kids who killed and consume marijuana as they were their meal. Ishmael and their friends were dengerous little fellow. From here he gradually changed and began schooled again and now the stories had become part of his life..
Here I put some of my favorite part of the books:
1. In the first chapter, Ishmael told us about his childhood at his grandmother village. The story for me was inspiring.
"We must strive to be like the moon." An old man in Kabati repeated this sentence often to people who walked past his house on their way to the river to fetch water, to hunt, to tap palm wine; and to their farms.
I remember asking my grandmother what the old man meant. She explained that the adage served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others.
She said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, she said, no one grumbles when the moon shines.
Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way. Children watch their shadows and play in its light, people gather at the square to tell stories and dance through the night. a lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. These are some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon."
2. The way he describe loneliness..
3. The spirit keep him going..
" One thing about being lonesome is that you think too much, especially when
there isnt much else you can do"
" When I was very little, my father used to say. "If you are alive, there is
hope for a better day and something good to happen. If there is nothing good
left in the destiny of a person, he or she will die." I thought about these
words during my journey, and they kept me moving even I didnt know where I was
going. Those words became the vehicle that drove my spirit forward and made it
A little introduction about the author..
Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in1980. At the age of twelve , he fled attacking rebels in Sierra Leone and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence.
By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.
At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and finally to heal.
He moved to the united states in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York. He graduated from Oberlin College in 2004. Now he is member of various NGO's helping children affected by war and many more.
Overall, this is a good reading options for those who like this kind of story. If you want to watch a movie that best describe the war you can try watch a movie entitled "Blood diamond". The movie describe how the rebels recruited young boys and feed them with drugs.. It is a worth movie to watch..