Sierra Leone, Africa: a country whose past played host to a civil war utilizing soldiers under the age of 15, a strategy that has been a consistent go to for more than half of the world’s wars (Masland 1). A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah and The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClelland are stories guided by the anecdotes of child soldiers and prisoners of war affected by the Revolutionary United Front. Beah, whose story pans out in A Long Way Gone and Mariatu’s written in The Bite of the Mango are both real life accounts of survivors following the trauma of an 11 year civil war. The thought of innocence, tainted by war, is merely formulated but never born into these two people from day one. The division regarding points of view on the war is simple; one is either a soldier or a running civilian. While both struggle to survive, Beah views the war from both sides which creates a significantly worse struggle.
Beah begins life with somewhat of a promising future, considering his surrounding circumstances. His young life is clean and harmless, with little to worry about. He sets out on his travels with hopes of reaching the final destination of Mattru Jong. Accompanying him is his brother and friend so that they can perform their rap and dance. A journey created out of ambition would soon come to an emotional halt. He is now becoming the hunted, the ones ransacked and left for dead without remorse. The beginning of a lifelong battle with his emotions and physical health would start, the same way it did for other children in Sierra Leone. “Sierra Leonean commanders who had served… took an estimated 10,000 children as combatants during the decade-long conflict…” (Masland 6). The rapid transition from music to killing as a hobby is at a maturation rate much too high for any child to encounter. Beah becomes the one thing that carelessly tore his world apart, a child soldier and the war itself.
After learning that his family has been killed by the RUF moments before he reaches the village, Beah’s transition begins. A new vantage point is born, one driven by the death of his family and one not encountered by Mariatu.
What I have learned from my experiences is that revenge is not good. I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I've come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and...