This story is a biography about a child soldier who has lost everything and everyone, Ishmael Beah was a twelve year old boy who becomes a soldier during a war in Sierra Leone which is a country in west Africa. Music, music was an important part of Ishmael’s life because it brought out a part him he never had known about himself. Music helped Ishmael in a lot of different ways. It helped him survive from bad situations and it help him with his emotions. From the moment Ishmael first heard rap music from a video, he was hooked. At just 8 years of age, Ishmael, his brother Junior and some of their friends formed their own rap/dance group. Ishmael said in the book, A Long Way Gone, (Beah, pg 6) “He loved the dance and particularly enjoyed learning the lyrics because they were poetic and it improved my vocabulary “. Ishmael’s obsession with rap ended up keeping him alive in several occasions. Ishmael traveled to another village to perform in a talent competition while their village was being destroyed.
Since he was out of town for a rap performs may have saved Ishmael’s life but it also caused him a big deal of stress as he did not know what happened to his family after the rebels attacked his village.In the book Ishmael stated “While waiting for news Junior, Talloi, and I listened to rap music trying to memorize the lyrics so that we could avoid thinking about the situation at hand.” When the word was spread around about the rebels attacking, music really helped him cope with his emotions along with his journey. It helped him escape from the life he lived in. With the doubt ,brutality, and uncertainty of the war ,Ishmael, his brother and his friends wandered from place to place in search of food and shelter.
Their days of existence was a struggle for survival, they felt as though they would never last, those dreadful nights of starvation and walking. Ishmael and his friends were dying of hunger, thirsty that they started stealing food from people and when they always go to villages they always find themselves in bad situations and when they were spotted by the rebels ,the rebels were out to get them and chasing them village to village Ishmael and his friend’s couldn’t seat and rest for a second because there was danger all around them someone trying to hurt them or kill them. While they were running village to village they got captured by a group of men who are volunteering to be guards for their village brought them in by force to the village council, the leader of the village threatened to take their lives but than they found a cassette tape of rap music in Ishmaels pocket and then they proceeded to play it for the council.
The council become suspicious after hearing the foreigners song because they were unfamiliar with that type of music. They were lucky because there was this little boy from mattru Jong who remember their rap group’s performance and was able to name Ishmael, junior, and their friends. Once the main member of the council knew that they aren’t rebels, he offers them a place to stay and food, but they decided to move on because they know the danger and violence that was coming towards that village.That cassette saved Ishmael and his friends lives. Metaphorically speaking music has saved him multiple times by helping him escape his life in Sierra Leone but this time it physically saved his life. Music may just be sound but its impact on people is mesmerizing. Music helps people and ishmael in a lot of different ways it lowered stress and makes people happy reduces depression and helps you forget about all your problems.
What Ishmael liked about music was the beats although he doesn’t understand it at all what it was talking about even though he didn’t understand it at all he still listened to it so that it could calm him down and made him stress free. Ishmael was just a boy he went through some pretty hoffic experiences the things Ishmael want through was a lot like the violence, consequences of violence everywhere.he seen hoffic things Family members, friends, strangers, children and babies being killed. Some of them escape but not all. Ishmael is no exception Ishmael’s clothes are being ripped off of his chest and his cassettes fall out. After Ishmael is captured by the military he is controlled to be a soldier. The military takes away all his cloth and stuff and gives him a uniform. Ishmael is heart broken when the pants that the cassettes were in are destroyed. Ishmael explains in the book “I ran toward the fire, but the cassettes had already started to melt tears formed in my eyes and my lips shook as I turned away”. During this time ishmael is deprived of his music but kept on a steady diet of drugs and violent war movies. This was the end of ishmael innocence, the end of his childhood joy. It was just all a nightmare for ishmael when he had to look to kill someone at just the age of twelve he had kill people,ishmael want through all that.
In sierra leone the conflicting group didn’t just shoot each other to death. They cut off fingers and slicing open stomachs. When ishmael first join in sierra leone military, he can’t believe what he seen. he comes across four men lying on the group their uniforms soaked with blood. He says in A long way gone “one of them lay on his stomach his insides were spilling onto the ground. I turned away and my eyes caught the smashed head of another man.Something inside his brain was still pulsating and he was breathing i felt nauseated,everything began to spin around me the sight is unbearable” for ishmael he knows that these type of acts are not normal, but a fellow soldier says to him, ‘’ you will get used to it’’. Over time ishmael does get use to it, not because he wants to, but because he has no choice, he didn’t have no choice he was doing what he was told to do and that was to kill or they were going to kill him.
It seems never ending this stuff still goes on in sierra leone and countries all around the world but where it happens the most is africa they have it the worst in africa as many as 300,000 children are forced be serving all the armed conflicts around the world. Boys and girls some as young as seven serve in government forces and armed opposition groups, all these boys and girls dont have a choice like ishmael, they have to do what their told. According to Billy Briggs in the Article about child soldiers he states that it is not just Sierra Leone that has children soldiers Countries like afghanistan, Myanmar Nigeria, Somalia, South sudan, Syria, and Yemen have them too. Afghanians have national police and three armed groups including taliban force. Myanmar internal armed conflicts have seen children widely used by both state armed forces and armed groups. Nigeria the terrorist group boko haram recruited 2,000 child soldiers in 2016. Somalia round 150 children were reportedly abducted for recruitment. South sudan estimated 17,000 children since 2013. Syrian more than half of children recruited in cases verified by UNICEF in 2015 were under 15. Yemen there have been nearly 1,500 cases of child recruitment in yemen since the cycle of poverty and power does not change while foreign interests compete for what little the country has.Both innocent victims and brutal killers, child soldiers live a pitiful life at the mercy of ruthless rebels. From ages seven and up all forced to be in the armed group.
All of this stuff mostly happens in Africa the spot for the abuse of children in war. They live off in the bush because they are afraid, removed from their families, their fate in the hands of horrible rebels who give them drugs and they carry weapons that are often bigger than themselves. These are the child soldiers around the world. They are both innocent victims and brutal killers.Sierra leone known as having the world’s worst living condition. Sierra leonean prospects for improvement are better this year as the country begins to recover from a 10 year civil war. Its outline and economy destroyed by the war, sierra leone still the last on the list of 173 nations rated by the united nations development program. Children are still being forced to be soldiers to this day it never seems to end for these innocent children. Both innocent victims and brutal killers, child soldiers live in a life at the mercy of ruthless rebels.
Ishmael had a hard life and bad nightmare when UNICEF remove him from the war, they aren’t prepared for the way the experience changed them ,they don’t know what they went through the hoffic thing they seen and the things they were forced to do. Ishmael says in the book “It hadn’t crossed their minds that a change of environment wouldn’t immediately make us normal boys we were dangerous, and brainwashed to kill’’. The were taught how to act and the officials needed to learn how to rehabilitate them. The boys assume they will be sent back to the front of the lines and don’t really have a problem with that, but instead they are taken to the Benin home which is other facility. This time having to learn their lessons” ‘’ the MPs made sure to search us thoroughly before we entered. In the facility many boys brought in drugs, this was not the case in Benin home.” Healing is a slow process.
First Ishmael and the other boys go through physical check ups from drugs. For Ishmael rap music plays a big role in the healing, ishmael had one thing to help heal and thing was music but unlike the other boys they didn’t have anything to help them heal..When ishmael is concentrating on music he isn’t remembering war all the nightmares and bad thoughts go away when he listen to music.
When a group of officials come to the Benin home for observation, Ishmael performs a rap for them about saving the child soldier. After all the horrible things that happened to him he doesn’t want it to happen to other children. Afterwards Mr. Kamara the head of Benin home tells Ishmael quote “your and your friends really impressed those visitors They know now that it is possible for you boys to be rehabilitated’’. Ishmael is asked to be the spokesperson for the benin home. When Ishmael speak to them he would use himself for example when telling others quote “ we can be rehabilitated, I believe children have the resilience to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance”. After all that ishmael tells his story and what he went through and that it happens to other children.
Ishmael purpose of telling his story was to help others understand how children are forced to fight in war around the world and how they don’t have no choice.The children being steady by drugs and violent films and essentially brainwashing them and they feel like they need all that stuff.. Ishmael said in a interview that the new violent lifestyles the children assume it’s either that or face certain death cause them to forget their previous lives . Ishmael never wanted to fight and even remembered about how frightening it was the first time he was given a gun but after firing the gun the first time and taking someone’s life he think back on the Surfing that overbook him to the abuse around him .Also Ishmael also wanted to educate people about Sierra Leone and its problem. One of the problems Ishmael said he faced is talking about his experience in Sierra Leone how little it was known about the country or it’s cultural. But still today Sierra Leone still experiences periods of turmoil with continuing with government struggles. This is why people should be more open minded and learn more about others and pay attention to what’s going on around the world and what people,children are going through this is why ishmael wrote his book to tell people what’s going on all around the world