A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
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In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels 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.
"My new friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.
'Why did you leave Sierra Leone?'
'Because there is a war.'
'You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?'
'Yes, all the time.'
I smile a little.
'You should tell us about it sometime.'
wanted to, but because I thought that if I told her some of the gruesome truth of my war years she would be afraid of me and would cease asking questions. She listened attentively when I began to talk. Her eyes were glued to my face, and I bowed my head as I delved into my recent past. During the second dry season of my war years, we were low on food and ammunition. So, as usual, we decided to attack another village. First, I went with my squad to spy on a village. We watched the village all
doing business with his shirt. He would lend it to the boys for a few hours in exchange for toothpaste, soap, lunch, and so on. At the end of the week, he had a lot of toothpaste and other items that he sold at an outdoor market farther away from the center. The day after we returned from the city, I went to the hospital immediately after class and waited for Esther. She was surprised to find me waiting for her at the doorstep. She rubbed my head and said, “I have good news. Your results from
together for a group dance to this particular song. We high-fived each other and then hugged. He was still taller than me. We sat together on the stoop and briefly talked about our childhood pranks. “Sometimes I think about those great times we had dancing at talent shows, practicing new dances, playing soccer until we couldn’t see the ball…It seems like all those things happened a very long time ago. It is really strange, you know,” he said, looking away for a bit. “I know, I know…” I said.
I told myself that I wouldn’t want to live in such an unpleasantly cold country, where I would always have to worry about my nose, ears, and face falling off. That first morning in New York City, we learned about each other’s lives for hours. Some of the children had risked their life to attend the conference. Others had walked hundreds of miles to neighboring countries to be able to get on a plane. Within minutes of talking to each other, we knew that the room was filled with young people who
(RUF), under the leadership of a former corporal, Foday Sankoh, begin to attack villages in eastern Sierra Leone, on the Liberian border. The initial group is made up of Charles Taylor’s rebels and a few mercenaries from Burkina Faso. Their goal is to rid the country of the corrupt APC government. Fighting continues in the ensuing months, with the RUF gaining control of the diamond mines in the Kono district and pushing the Sierra Leone army back toward Freetown. April 1992 A group of young