Six billion people, six billion unique beings, yet so many of them are unfairly grouped together based off of unfair, arbitrarily selected parallels. In common mans’ terms, prejudice is an illogical, and disgusting aspect of the human syndrome. Ishmael Beah, and Mariatu Kamara, both child survivors of the Sierra Leone war, are familiar with prejudice on a very personal level. Beah, a young boy, and eventual soldier during the war, experiences wildly different prejudice than Mariatu, a young girl, and mother, during the country’s bloody conflict. Though both experience, and practice, unfair prejudice, Beah’s experience was far more negative and destructive than Kamara’s.
Child soldiers, such as Beah, are a topic of extreme moral controversy, but in his Journal on Military Ethics, Dan Zupan says it best:
That the child posed a real threat is undeniable. It is reasonable to conclude that if
someone raises a weapon, aims it at you, then cocks the weapon, that he plans to shoot
you. Since the person is doing this in a hostile environment where people have been
shooting at you routinely, the conclusion seems especially warranted. In fact, it seems
unreasonable, irresponsible, even negligent, not to fire upon this threat. (Zupan 1)
Beah never carries a weapon when he enters small villages for the first time, yet after witnessing so many children perform this act villagers almost routinely he is a potential killer. Villagers had grown acustomed to young boys routinely shooting at them. Even after being fed by an individual of a village for weeks, Beah and his friends are still almost executed based solely on speculation (Beah 66). Just because he is a twelve year old boy, all of the natives of Beah’s own home country assume that he is a killer.
Kamara experiences similar treatment when she arrives to villages with her severed hands. Girls were often used as decoys, or sometimes soldiers themselves, and were the first warning of an imminent rebel attack. There is a distinct difference between how the villages receive them; though always released, Beah does not receive aid from whole villages during his trip. When Mariatu arrives in the village before Port Loko she receives aid from a group of women not just an individual. “The woman who had caught me laid me down on the dusty ground. . . She propped the pants she had been mending under my head as a pillow while the third woman ran off, calling for help. The oldest woman lifted a plastic cup full of water to my lips” (Kamara 53). Beah never experiences anything like this. Both are judged before entering these rural villages, but Beah’s is unable to overcome his stigma unlike Kamara who quickly shakes off the effects of the prejudices.
Ironically, these characters that suffer so terribly under the heavy hand of prejudice become masterful practitioners of it before their stories end. Beah when in rehabilitation begins his descent into unfair judgments against the rebel...