I thought a post on Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier was timely given the recent attention on social networking sites about Kony 2012. However, I would like to diverge from my usual book-review format to express my deep concern surrounding the negative attention the movie, and its creator, have faced amidst this new found awareness. In a time when celebrity sex tapes are as news worthy as a stock market crash, I find it rather appalling that people have taken to criticizing those for raising awareness to one of the world’s most horrific issues. To suggest that there is a “another side” to a story of children, children, hopped up on drugs, given automatic weapons and told to pull the trigger, rape and kill; I find this very hard to excuse. And so, for the billionth time I will repost the video because I believe in its cause: that you cannot solve a problem if no one knows it exists.
When Ishmael Beah made an appearance on George Strombolopolous’ show I couldn’t believe that the soft, yet well spoken, 26 year old with a smile that never left his face had soldiered the Sierra Leone jungles as a child. In A Long Way Gone, Beah takes us through his personal journey of survival in an army made up of those barely past the age of 16. This is a very chilling, very graphic story inside the life of a child soldier.