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The novel a long way gone: memoirs of, a boy soldier is a story told of a young boy soldier, Ishmael Beah. This young boy, Ishmael Beah was deeply involved in the Sierra Leone civil war that lasted for approximately one decade. The young boy was recruited to take part in the civil war at a very tender age of thirteen. The civil war as between the Sierra Leone armed forces and the rebels in the country generally referred to as the Revolutionary Front United (RUF).
The conquest between the armed forces of Sierra Leone began as a small thing and did not seem to intensify in the near future. This condition however got worse with every break of day and within a very short period of time things had got out of hard. The armed forces intensified their belt to protect the Sierra Leone citizens. The rebels however had an intention of executing all people in ever village they went to. During this time they performed merciless killings on all people either old or young rich and poor alike.
The beginning of Ishmaels’ long adventure started in 1991 when the cruel national war broke out. The country had been peaceful all along so for Ishmael and his young companions were greatly afraid. This is because the revolutionary front united attacked families at night and killed all the family members. To intensify their actions they burnt the whole house in order to eliminate any trace of that family existence. It was in the same way that Ishmael got separated from his family at a very early age as a teenager.
The author narrates how they were separated from their families. Their escape was unplanned for such that each of the family members fled to the safest direction they found. Ishmael escaped with his friends in one direction toward the wilderness while the rest of his family fled to the next village. The friends included Gibrilla, Kaloko, and Khalilou and just like Ishmael they were all separated from their family. They become best of friends in the wilderness for the long period till when they were separated by an uproar in the village.
Ishmaels’ experience in the wilderness was not easy since they had no source of moral support that could easily be provided from the family members. Additionally, they had inadequate food supply since they ate herbs and bush fruits. Generally, the life in the wilderness was devastating since they also had peace less nights for the fear of being attacked. That means that they had temporary residence as well as inadequate water supply in the desert.
Consequently, the boys became wilderness wonderers for a long period of time. In on e instance there was uproar that caused so many people t be killed. The horror brought by the revolutionary united front during this whole period led to the execution of the families of the young boys. The parents to Ishmael were allegedly killed by the rebels and the houses burnt to ashes. This was however not confirmed since Ishmael and the friends searched throughout the rubies but failed to find them. The friends after a tireless search found trouble proceeding since the uproar had heightened. They therefore had to run for their lives.
Consequently the young boys now aged thirteen years had to choose between remaining in the village and probably suffer brutal killings. Either they had an option of going to the next village or cross orders to the adjacent country. On their search of decision the young boys met the Sierra Leone armed forces. The lieutenant argued them to choose safety by joining the national armed forces. Additionally, the young boys would not only be safe but would show royalty to the nation. They would also be used tom help protect the rest of the threatened villagers who had no where to turn to other than a life of eloping always.
Essentially, the decision to join the national army became the beginning point of the first phase in Ishmael’ life as a boy soldier. The boys ended up giving in to the lieutenant’s requests and were enrolled to work as young soldiers for Sierra Leone. They were since then expected to use guns and work like any other trained soldier. The training experience was tasking but the boys had to work themselves t the full in order to show their loyalty.
The extent of their loyalty would be confirmed by the depth of their commitment. They indeed were very committed although this was ironical due to their age. The Sierra Leone government was instead expected to support them during this painful period that they had just lost their parents. The government would allow the children to grow out of their trauma by taking them to camps. In the camps then they would resume their education and be taught on the skills of life.
The author asserts that life had to take the new direction since becoming a boy soldier was inevitable. The boys were thereby exposed to ruthless fighting and killings. The larger the number of killings they registered meant a great triumph against the rebels. They lived in the army barracks and so after the fights during the tough times, they would come back into the safety of the camp.
The author however reported the painful experiences they had to persevere while practicing their new learnt skill of boy soldiers. The boys learnt to use large guns during the confrontation and other small knives for personal protection. The boys were however taught to use drugs in order to reduce tension and work stress. Use of drugs would also help them become more daring in any situation. The use of drugs was specifically to make them fight as mature people, without considering that they are children. The drugs included ‘brown brown’ marijuana and a mixture of gun powder.
The author indicates that the marijuana drug would be mixed with gun powder and the boys would fights tirelessly. Ishmael asserts that the number of merciless killing as many people as they could. The effect of the drugs intensified in their lives that they got addicted. Ishmael indicates that they could not do without using the drugs till they wee intoxicated. All the same Ishmael says that drugs caused them to hate life more since they were using them to eliminate their inner pain. However as he repeatedly asserts, the painful thoughts never were eliminated but continued to reappear.
The civil war heightened and many more people were recruited both in the rebels as well as the in the army. On the other hand many more other people were killed and it became increasingly life endangering especially for the young boys. The strength that bound the group of young boys was also shaken as many of them were killed. Saidu, Moriba, Musa and Jumah are some of the boys among Ishmael’s friends that were killed in the war.
It is at this point that the UNICEF rescue team patrolled the army camp in Sierra Leone. The team identified Alhaji and Ishmael in order to rescue them from working as boy soldiers. The team however, left Kanei behind in order to become the junior sergeant. Kanei was left behind because he was the oldest and thus would take care of the remaining group. Alhaji and Ishmael were then taken to a rehabilitation center.
This marked the initial point of the second phase of his life. He was taken to Freetown where they were to experience a different kind of life. The first thing that had to change was unavailability of drugs to intoxicate them. The rehabilitation staff therefore found trouble keeping them controlled. This is because they were struggling with drug withdrawing effects. They caused trouble all over the rehabilitation center and several people were unable to cope with them. There was however one different person, Nurse Esther understood Ishmael.
Nurse Esther became instrumental to the Ishmael especially during the transition period when he needed a lot of patience. The author asserts that he struggled with forgiving himself due to the evil things he had done. However Esther helped him get over it and find forgiveness to total freedom. Additionally, Nurse Esther noted Ishmaels’ unique desire in reggae music. As a result of that desire she gave him a walkman and a cassette by bob Marley. This helped become the beginning of his deep interest in music.
Ishmael was able to reform within a short period of time and regained his personality. He was later allowed opportunities to speak o various groups of young people. The main subject was his experiences as a boy soldier in Sierra Leone. He successfully had so many talk sessions arranged in order to highlight the various kinds of things young children undergoes as child soldiers all over the globe. The rehabilitation staff therefore found trouble keeping them controlled. This is because they were struggling with drug withdrawing effects. They caused trouble all over the rehabilitation center and several people were unable to cope with them. There was however one different person, Nurse Esther understood Ishmael.
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