A Long Way Gone Fiona Grannan

The Atlantic Ocean corners the underside of Sierra Leone, and Liberia and Guinea surround it. Diamonds, gold, and iron are all found and mined from Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is a Unitary System. A unitary state is a state governed as a single power where the central government is ultimate and any other divisions exercise only what the central government chooses to delegate.

Map of Sierra Leone

Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was a rebel army that aimed to dismantle the government of Sierra Leone. They fought for freedom, but they quickly became disliked by their brutality towards locals.

Leading up to the war, politics in Sierra Leone were often corrupt, mismanaged, and violent, which led to a weak society, and a collapse of the education system, and, by 1991, an entire generation was dissatisfied and wanted to overthrow the government. During the war, many people were killed, injured, and abducted by the rebels to fuel the fighting, which made living in Sierra Leone at the time dangerous and upsetting. They also used child soldiers to guard diamond mines and weapon stockpiles during the war, fight, and kill.

In Eritrea, Somalia, and Zimbabwe, children are being used for labor to produce and manufacture various items such as clothing and cars. In Liberia, Congo, and Sudan, kids are being used to fight in wars as child soldiers.

Many organizations are trying to deflect that, however, and there are projects in Mozambique, Angola and Somalia helping former child soldiers. They offer rehabilitation and shelter during hard times. Organizations against using children soldiers include The Child Soldiers International, War Child, and Invisible Children. As for the UN, it wishes to protect children from armed conflict. They hope to shelter and save them from war torn countries.

Ishmael Beah is 36 years old, and he wrote the book A Long Way Gone. He started writing as a project while at Oberlin College. He was prompted to continue working on it, and he claims he wrote what he thought, he just laid down his past, and wrote to write, just letting everything flow.

Hip-hop gave Ishmael interest in the English language, these people who spoke English so quickly intrigued him so much as a kid. He recalls it fondly,

This video from CBS News delivers Ishmael discussing the war he fought in, and the effects it had on him at the time, and after it was all said and done.

Ishmael discusses the ignorance around America, and the fact that so many people knew so little about Africa, Sierra Leone, and the conflicts arising there.

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