A Long Way Gone By Ishmael Beah

September 30, 2008
By Jerome Goecker, Colorado Springs, CO

So often we ignore the harsh realities of our world. Children hopped up on drugs, wielding AK-47s, and killing all those that oppose them is something that we hear nothing about. The world merely glances over these atrocities, which are located deep in the news paper near the sports section. This dark and immoral atrocity can be seen through the eyes of Ishmael Beah. His accounts of death, brainwash, and famine can give the world an eye-opening glimpse into the lives of many young Sierra Leonean boys whom are forced into becoming child soldiers.

At the age of twelve, Ishmael was walking and playing carelessly with his friends. He and his friends had their own dance group and performed to the music of American rap artists. War had been in his country for some time, but when “freedom fighters” finally destroyed his village, the once distant war came all too close. Ishmael ran for months on end, in search of his family and some sense of security. He found comfort and some security with his friends, but never the life that he had before the rebels had taken his family. Never-ending violence and the death of all those that have ever meant something to Ishmael, as well as overwhelming hunger, drove him into the army at the age of 12. He became overwhelmed with hate against the rebels, as his captain reminds him of the atrocities that they have committed against him and his loved ones. His mind grew exceedingly corrupt, as he grew drug ridden and even stated, “My head hurts when I don't see blood” (Ishmael 103). He used to run and hide out of fear of being killed by the RUF, but now he decides to take action and seek revenge.

A sad and triumphant tale of his life shows many themes, but the most evident is how he never seemed to be able to spill enough blood to avenge his family and finally end his want to kill. He grew more and more frustrated with every life he took that did not make his hatred withdraw. After being rehabilitated he was able to see how his want for revenge had probably caused the families and friends of thee ones he had killed to desire what he had sought. He ultimately saw that the want for revenge is a never ending spiral that devours the minds of those who desire revenge.

This eye opening tale is well worth the time it requires to read. It is a true story written from the first hand accounts of Ishmael Beah. This story shows a world that is ignored too often; a world that deserves our attention; a world that needs to end. A tale of vengeance, child soldiers, and war is a tale that needs to be read.

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