The RUF is the Revolutionary United Front. They were a rebel army that fought in the ten year war in Sierra Leone. Their main goal was to overthrow the Sierra Leone's government. In order to finance themselves they took control over the diamond industry and they performed violent attacks on the civilians. The RUF wanted complete control over Sierra Leone. In order to create their powerful army they would force young male children into the ranks of a soldier. They would do whatever they thought was necessary to get the children into the army.
Young children who were forced to fight with the RUF
Teenage soldiers who also fought with the RUF
The war in Sierra Leone started when the RUF allied with other forces and tried to overthrow the government. The war started in in 1991 and ended in 2002. Over 50,000 people were killed and around 10,000 child soldiers were used to fight with the RUF. The child soldiers were used for combat, cooks, informants, bodyguards, and spies.
Other countries that use child soldiers are Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia. They are used to fight in combat and they are used for spies and servants.
Child soldier in Afghanistan
Young soldiers in Democratic Republic of Congo
Child soldier in Somalia.
Many organizations are trying to stop countries from recruiting child soldiers by punishing the recruiters and giving the children other things to do. They help them find a way to go to school and earn an education. They also take them away from combat and put them in safe place where they can be with a family that will help keep them safe.
The UN started a campaign to end the recruitment of child soldiers. They got other countries involved including Afghanistan. These countries banned child soldiers and created punishments for the recruiters.
Ishmael Beah is now 36 years old. He is currently living in New York with his wife. He attended Oberlin college and persued a writing career. The writing method that he used was writing down his experiences and putting them into one solid story that he turned into a novel. Music was a major influence on him. He would see music videos and be surprised to see other black me like himself saying things very fast in English. It was something that he had never experienced and loved the music that wasn't a part of his culture. He wanted to experience another culture.
Another video we watched was a video about Ishmael talking about why he wrote the book.
We also watched a video of him explaining the war in Sierra Leone and what it was like being a soldier.
We learned that he was fascinated by music and the English language. He listened to rap because he saw it as a way to know the lyrics and get better at speaking English. We also learned that the war caused many deaths and damage to several villages in Sierra Leone.