The memoir A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah and A Bite of a Mango by Mariatu Kamara is set in the tragic Sierra Leone war of the early 1990s. Ishmael and Mariatu, respectively, share a tragic experience of terror that is still with them, and we’re thankful to seek and meet others to rely on throughout the war.
Beah’s story is one that explains all aspects of war to show the world. He tells the views about both an escaping civilian and a fighting soldier of the war. Beah describes his and his friends’ thoughts when running away from the war and his thoughts after he is to be reinstated into society. He portrays the anxiety and the fear in these situations vividly. Beah faced the terror a second time even after being rehabilitated, which could have possibly dragged him back into the war (Beah 209). Beah was scared when he first meets UNICEF, as he was confused about why people were trying to help soldiers who killed millions of innocents. Till this day Ishmael conflicts and battles with the tragic scars left in his memory.
Kamara’s story does give the reader a look of what it is like to be a part of this conflict. Through her inner thoughts, Kamara describes the feeling of always being on the run from the rebels. She had first met the rebels when they set her home on fire, losing most of her family, and when they cut off her hands. As Kamara was travelling to the main city, Port Loko, to receive care for her hands , she said: ‘In my imagination I saw rebels camouflaged in their khaki pants, sneaking through the bushes beside me’ (Kamara 52). Kamara is someone who represents the others who have had to suffer a similar fate in war. It is still, however, Kamara’s individual experience that she tells about. The Bite of the Mango contains many thoughts and feelings that belong to Kamara alone such as her thoughts about how to handle eating a mango without the help of others (Kamara 48). This shows how sad the children had it in the war as they had no one to rely on or to get help from.
The story does not only belong to him but also the people he meets because of this war. He describes the lives of his friends, how they lost their family, and how they end up after the war. Also, in A Long Way Gone, the army and the rebels are illustrated as torturing and merciless. As a former child soldier himself, Beah depicts the worries of the child soldiers after they are rehabilitated and eventually reinstated. Beah runs through all his internal questions and feelings when he was to live with his uncle after his rehabilitation: I was worried about living with a family. I had been on my own for years and had taken care of myself without any guidance from anyone. I was afraid that I might look ungrateful to my uncle, who didn’t have to take me in if I distanced myself from the family unit. I was worried about what to do when my nightmares and migraines took hold of me. How was I going to explain my sadness, which I am unable to hide as it takes over my face, to my new family, especially the children? (Beah 179). All of his thoughts are fears are of a former child soldier that will be reinstated into society. Ishmael is worried about living with the family he seeks out to others to help him portray life in the United State.
Mariatu was not the only one to seek help from others, as she meets people along the way who helped her with navigation, food and water, shelter and later on finding a safe home in Canada where she would stay with her new adoptive family. As Mariatu is brought in to the hospital a few weeks later news is brought up to her from the nurse. ‘This man Bill would like to help you, his family read your story and they would like to give you food and clothes’ (Kamara 134). Even though Mariatu fought resiliently throughout her story, without the help of other people and resource she wouldn’t be where she is today. Mariatu was able to influence others with disability’s as she strives to tell her story to about the will to keep fighting
In conclusion, Ishmael Beah’s book has opened the eyes of the people in this world, because his life story from this book reveals a variety of scenarios and thoughts that happened in Sierra Leone’s war. Both authors were able to spread their stories to the world when they travelled overseas. Beah describes fighting in the war and running from the war, while Kamara describes being a maimed civilian running from war. Kamara’s story is mostly of her own life and how she survived the war, which does inform the world about how the war is to a young child and the importance of morals.