A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah was one of the most shocking books I have ever read. I knew that there were many problems and civil wars occurring within Africa, but I never realized how much war truly affected the country and its culture. This is not a typical war that we envision here in the United States, this is a dismantling of a country’s way of life. Beah’s story gives detailed accounts of things that seem unimaginable in today’s world. The fact that governments around the world had an idea that these things were going on and did nothing to stop it sooner is extremely upsetting.
The description told by Ishmael of life in Sierra Leone before the war seems like a very traditional African country. The elders of a village were the most respected out of everyone, men had their traditional roles of hunting and providing for the family, the women would cook, and the children would go to school and have various chores and games they would do. There were stories told and big village celebrations that everyone in the village would attend. All of these things that made up the African culture in Sierra Leone were ripped apart at the seams when the war started. A once proud and tightly knit society was in shambles; the life that people had always known was being taken from them. As the rebels moved through Sierra Leone and raided villages; people had no other option than to run for their lives and worry about the whereabouts of their family members later, because if they did not get out of the village as fast as they could they risked facing death and torture.
To me this was one of the more disturbing aspects of the war; even if you were to make it out of your village alive, there was a very slim chance that you would ever find your family. Ishmael was a twelve year old boy when his village was taken over by the rebels and from then on he never saw his family again. The traumatizing effect that the loneliness alone would implement on someone of that age...
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