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Ishmael Beah’s Memoirs of Sierra Leone War – A Long Way From The Truth

Author: Muctaru Wurie

Ishmael Beah’s Memoirs of Sierra Leone War

– A Long Way From The Truth

By Muctaru Wurie

He may be well known in the western world for a book that portrayed the ruthless war in Sierra Leone from the view of a child soldier, but Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, is known very little here at home.

Before I write this piece I did a random check of university scholars and literature students and journalists across the country, only two people acknowledged they have read his work. Many said they have read about it in reviews in the western media, but have not actually seen the book, let alone read it. Quite a handful said they have not even heard about Ishmael or his work at all.

When you look at the impact of this book, which did not only received rave reviews from New York Times, Washington Post to The Guardian UK and many other mainstream western media, but also reportedly grossed millions of dollars and drew a lot notice. It is ironical that Sierra Leone, a country that has very vibrant media and universities which have a predisposition for literature misses out on this.

The book also catapulted Ishmael to prominence and he has spoken at the UN and according to Wikipedia he has met with leaders including Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela.

Beah currently works for the Human Rights Watch Children’s Division Advisory Committee, he has served as the keynote speaker for several events, including the Global Young Leaders Conference 2007 (July 15-26 session), Oberlin College’s 175th convocation ceremony.


A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, brings a tragic reminder of what happened in a peaceful and relatively orderly society which Sierra Leone was.

The story started ominously with what was the case then, refugees running away from danger for their safety and passing through towns and villages, they come with harrowing stories, some of which many at the time found difficult to believe.

But like the majority of Sierra Leonean, the bestial veracity of the war was never far away from the doorstep. And for many, the madness and brutality of the war reached their towns and villages with little or no notice. This was exactly the case for Ishmael, his brother and a friend who left their village for Mattru Jong to participate in a talent show. They left never to return as their village was attacked and their whole area plunged into chaos by marauding rebels who knew no language but that of pandemonium and destruction.

Ishmael and co made a futile attempt to return back to their family, it was clear they were not going to reach their village as many were already running away from there with horrible account and in the end they were forced to make a u-turn.

Since then Ishmael and other groups of boys were desperately wandering aimlessly in search of safety, many were afraid of them as they pass from village to village they were shunned, detained and intimidated by many who thought they were rebels.

Every aspect of life turned upside down, children who were warmly welcome before the war became an object of fear and misgiving as many were used to wreck havoc and do atrocious things. A society that once loves kids suddenly turned into one that fears any unknown kid.

The book which is written in a free flow commanding, heartbreaking and even enchanting way does not only contain the horrors of a war in Ishmael’s native land, it also exhibited another side of Sierra Leone; the Mende story telling culture and Ishmael and indeed many other kids in Sierra Leone at the time love of hip hop rap and Jamaican reggae music.

But for Ishmael and many others it was reality check, they were in the midst of the war. It seems as if it was the end of the world for Ishmael after he was captured by rebels who almost got him summarily executed. As they were about to coerced Ishmael’s friends to kill him and others, the rebels were attacked, that created an escape opportunity for Ishmael and others.

Like the majority of people caught in the war in Sierra Leone; Ishmael was emotionally unsettled with a bleak vision of not knowing actually when or where their misery was going to end. Because they were moving through forests and bypasses clinging on hope which sometimes look very implausible as the war was escalating and it impact being felt far and wide.

Their ordeal was not helped when Ishmael’s friend, Saidu who was wandering with them died. Saidu was apparently overwhelmed after undergoing the miserable ordeal of having seen from a roof hideout whilst rebels raped his three sisters over and over right in front of their mother and father, the latter who was hit by the rebels as he tried to stop them. Saidu’s (who had kept quiet in most of their journey) death came as a shock to Ishmael and his friends.

Unfortunately for Ishmael and his friends as they were about to make a reunion with their family whom they had not seen for months, the reunion was abruptly altered by a staccato outburst of gunfire which signalled a rebel attack in the village in which Ishmael was been guided by a former neighbour whom they accidentally tripled upon to meet his family. His family had been living there, and his elder brother had even gone out fruitlessly to look for him. It was never to be, the whole village was slaughtered by rebels who later boasted that no one survived their surprise assault there.

Despair was briefly replaced by a brief sense of hope at the town of Yele where Ishmael like many other orphan children found refuge. Suddenly Ishmael was thrusted into the war. Unlike many other children in Sierra Leone, Ishmael was not recruited by the RUF rebels. Had he, his story could have been much worse. He was recruited by the Sierra Leone army in Yele, because after coming under an all out siege and losing many of his men, Army commander, Lieutenant Jabati had no option but to mobilise civilian men and boys to defend the town. With a charismatic speech aided by the bodies of a man and his son killed by rebels after they tried to escape, Ishmael and other boys were inspired to fight alongside the Army.

Ishmael story during his time as a child soldier in the book was synonymous to many others, drug infatuation, killing, mass pillage and arson was the order of the day. Positively for Ishmael his romance for bloodshed and drugs was suddenly interrupted by the intervention of UNICEF who rescued him and 14 others from their squadron. This was treachery to Ishmael who saw his commander as a betrayer for handing him over to civilians. He planned escape back to the warfront, but was prevented from doing so by the many checkpoints along the way to Freetown.

Upon arrival in Freetown, another war took place in the war children’s home that they were brought; there was a confrontation between the RUF children and Ishmael’s group from the Army that leads to six deaths and injuries.

As a result of this they were separated and taken to Approved School, Kissy.

Ishmael underwent a painstaking rehabilitation process with the help of workers at the Home in Kissy, and particularly Nurse Esther who personally aided his psychotherapy by continually showing compassion, handing gifts to him and assuring him it was not his faults and all would be well.

As luck may have it, Ishmael came into contact with his uncle and for a very long time in his life, he had an opportunity to have a feeling that after all he had undergone, he has a family. At last someone referred to him as a son, he had the dejavu of experiencing a family as he settled with his uncle’s poor but very loving family.

Further blessing was to come for Ishmael; to his uncle disbelief he had a relishing experience in New York City where he was afforded the opportunity to attend a UN conference on children issues.

That experience was to be the catalyst for a benignant escape from war torn Freetown. After he returned back, thereafter, there was a devastating setback for Ishmael; there was a coup that turned everything upside down. There was a bloody standoff in Freetown as anarchy descended; this forced Ishmael to look elsewhere as he lost his very loving uncle who died in the midst of the mayhem in natural circumstance. He was already saving money that was being sent to him by Laura Simms (A woman he had met in New York) – with the aid of that money Ishmael fled to Guinea where he was able to return back to New York.

Shortcomings of a Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

When one who has a true sense of the war in Sierra Leone looks at A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, the story of Ishmael’s experience as a child combatant is not strange neither too horrible by the standards of what happened here during the war. There are stories worst than his (See the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, TRC Report, go to www.trcsierraleone.org); truth is that kids who fought with the RUF have a more barbaric story to tell. From the way his war experience was told, it could have been genuinely coming from a child combatant. I say this because most of the interest in the book stemmed from Ishmael’s experience as a boy who lost his family, hooked up with friends to find safety and ended up fighting and expediting terror as child.

Ishmael’s Claims of Being Forcefully Conscripted by the Military

As long as you were in the war zones in the provinces there was a great chance that you would be captured by one of the fighting forces and conscripted. I see no problem with Ishmael’s account of his fighting description and the horror he witnessed (even if you don’t, it would be very hard to counter). But his claim that he was conscripted after Yele was heavily besieged by the national army together with some other kids in the town has been ruled out as a forged by some military people, TRC people and observers on the ground. A military officer (prefers to be anonymous because he is still in the army and not permitted to talk) who was deployed around the Yele area from 94-96 period, said it was very odd for the army during those period to make organised recruitment of children under their command post as was described by Ishmael in his book. “No matter how besieged we were, we would prefer to do a tactical withdrawal or call for reinforcement or back-up from nearby regiments. It was something that was seen as very dangerous to do at the time for various reasons,” he said. Also, Lieutenant Jabati (Commander at Yele who conscripted Ishmael and other children) described in the book is not known to him. “I still remember my former army officer colleagues even those that are dead or retired from the military now.” The information that offensively upset the officer was that of Ishmael’s assertion that; “We also attacked civilian villages to capture recruits and whatever else we could find.” Reacting to that, the military officer said, “That is the most terrible accusation I have heard about the role of the army in the war. I will tell you that the army never attacked civilian villages to capture recruits. Go to the provinces now and ask people who witnessed the war, they will tell you that we did this and that but we never captured civilians for recruitments purpose. We use to capture rebel suspect or informants and send them to Freetown for interrogation, but to say we coercively conscript civilians and kids openly in front of other members of the community just to defend a town is ridiculous. It makes me think this boy (Ishmael) has another agenda,” said the officer. He however acknowledged that it was after 1996 that he started seeing some signs of child combatants fighting alongside the military, which was eventually exacerbated as the military temporarily fused with the RUF and later Civil Defence Forces (made up of Kamajors, Kapras, etc), two forces that used a lot of child fighters during the war. However, Mamud Mansaray, a business man who was risking his life during the war by selling goods across villages in the south of Sierra Leone said that the army sometimes attack villages but that was mainly for looting when they sometimes ran out of food supplies, on the contrary he said he’s never witnessed or heard of reports of the army attacking villages to capture civilian recruits. “That was very strange then; it was after the Johnny Paul coup that we started seeing the national army fighting alongside children or men in civilian outfits,” said Mamud, who was captured several times and accused by the army and Kamajors of selling goods to rebels and acting as an informant for them.

Another soldier, Patrick Mambu, now retired said he wished Ishmael would have been precise on his date as he was stationed in Yele around that period twice when it came under sustained attack from rebels. “There were refugees in the town from elsewhere, but we never thought of recruiting children to fight alongside us at that time. The other important thing was that most of the refugees that passed by don’t stay for long, many prefer to move ahead, I’m surprised to hear children were recruited at Yele around that time, also, the thing that would make it very hard for us to recruit children and others indiscriminately is that weapons were not even enough for us. If you can recall during the war you would be aware that there was shortage of weapons, so how could we just go out and recruit people like that? What would they fight with? Any claim that we openly conscript children at Yele just to defend the town is a complete trash,” said Patrick.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about Ishmael’s claims came from Alhaji Samura, who was a transcriber for the TRC, “I have read reviews of A Long Way Gone, and from what I see it appears as if the whole book is a fictional. “I don’t recall a time when anybody gave a testimony that they saw the national army recruiting children openly in a town to fight alongside them before 1997, there were plenty of instances relating to organised and mass child recruitment involving the RUF, Kamajors, Kapras and others but definitely not the military, there were obviously some serious accusation against the military but not that one,” said Alhaji.

Another former TRC staff, Emmanuel Koivaya Amara, who was a TRC Researcher, said that at the beginning of the war the military was caught by surprise, so there was what he referred to as ‘indiscriminate recruiting’ nationwide. But he said these were done in a structured manner and there was no record of a deliberate forceful recruitment before 1997. “All of the recruitments were done voluntarily in huge numbers, and a lot of unemployed youths turned out, but there was not an instance of a deliberate attempt by the military to attack villages deliberately to capture recruits or forcefully conscript people under their command posts,” said Emmanuel.

Confusion with Dates

There is definitely a problem with the dates on the book; there is a big misgiving about Ishmael’s assertion that his troubles started in 1993 when his village and surrounding areas was attacked and plunged into chaos by rebels. Mohamed Koroma who was living at Mattru Jong but left after 1995 with his father said that there were intermittent attacks by rebels in that area from 1993 upwards, but was very doubtful that there was any mass movement of people from that area in 1993. “More so, attacks by 1993 were very rare and not always successful. Even if someone whose village was attacked around that time got displaced. I don’t think they would have moved up to Yele, because there was no need for that when other main areas were safe. It was in 1995 that we saw real mayhem around that area which even forced thousands others and my father who was a businessman to run away for our lives,” said Mohamed.

Although this can be seen as a big miscalculation on the part of Ishmael, I wouldn’t want to delve into that too much because I can recall that as a boy myself growing up during the heat of the war, there were times in which I don’t even bother to know the dates. Because there was no schooling at some time, and the main concern then was life and death, that said, Ishmael should at least know when the whole chaos erupted because he was going to school then. And the time gap of two years exposed Ishmael and raised serious doubt about his account. There is another part that that exposes Ishmael’s date problem in his account, since he was already in Freetown where it was easier to know how time passes; I expect there would be no excuse on this. Ishmael said soon after he witnessed the student demonstration that gunshots continued constantly in the city for the next five months. And according to his account he left for Guinea on October 31st, whereas the actual student demo took place on 17th August. So if his five month assertion was anything to go by, he left January.

Another statement that showed Ishmael inaccuracy with time is that of his statement which he claimed that he saw a dead rebel boy wearing a Tupac Shakur t-shirt with the “All eyes on me” inscription on it. As a youth growing up in those days with Tupac obsession I knew that those Tupac t-shirts which were particularly popular with RUF rebels hadn’t hit the stalls yet by the time Ishmael mentioned that incident because Ishmael himself said that he left for Freetown January 1996 which means that he saw that Tupac t-shirt before it reached Sierra Leone. Med Bangs, a garments seller at Victoria Park told me that those Tupac “All eyes on me” t-shirt actually came to Sierra Leone mid 1996, “People use to come from the provinces and purchase a lot of these t-shirts from us, which made them very expensive at the time. But it was later that we discovered that RUF rebels particularly cherished the Tupac t-shirts, they were never in the market in Sierra Leone around January 1996, I would challenge anybody who says those t-shirts were here by even January 1996,” said Med Bangs. Another man, Kashoe, who is still called Tupac by some of his old friends because of his love for the rapper said that he was an ardent follower of Tupac. “I use to save all my money then just to buy Tupac’s latest cassettes, t-shirts and even his favourite bandanas. And I can tell you that All Eyez on Me album was released on February 1996, I still have the magazine and a complete Tupac biography. And for the All Eyes on Me t-shirt they came to Sierra Leone around June 1996, I was one of the first to get one and I would never forgot that I bought one for Le 15, 000. It was a huge pride to put on one by then,” said a smiling Kashoe.

View of Freetown After the May 25 Coup

Ishmael also painted a very wide of the mark scene in Freetown in the aftermath of the May 25 coup; he created a far more chaotic condition in Freetown that wasn’t actually the case, as he writes: “For the first three weeks people were so afraid that they didn’t dare leave their houses.” This was a clear amplification, the coup happened on Sunday and me along with my brother and thousands of other Freetownians went to the centre of town the next day to survey the ruins of the treasury building in the centre of town and a partially burnt Bank of Sierra Leone top floor. Andrew Fatoma who was an O’level student taking his exams then said he’s shocked by that claims; “I was taking my exams then, I use to leave all the way from Kissy to Kingtom to take my papers, it was the Monday, June 2, 1997 fighting incident at Mammy Yoko Hotel that forced the authorities to cancel our exams. Even then we use to go out and take strolls,” said Andrew.

The Corporal Gborie Coup Announcement

At the early hours of Sunday 25th May, it was the crooked and disjointed blend of Krio and English voice that we heard of the late Corporal Tamba Gborie, a junior army recruit that announced the coup, but Ishmael stated in his book that it was Johnny Paul Koroma who came on air and announced that Tejan Kabbah had been overthrown, Ishmael points out that Johnny Paul’s English was as bad as the reasons he gave for the coup, clearly everyone who was here at that time knew that what has been referred to as the most embarrassing coup broadcast of all time was delivered by the late Corporal Gborie, who was later convicted of treason and shot by firing squad. Sheik Daud Fofanah, a reporter for Kalleone Radio, who has actually read the book, said he is shocked at the way Ishmael wrote his story. “The whole book is a false make-up, look at this one, it was Gborie that announced the coup, but Ishmael claimed it was Johnny Paul. I really don’t know where he got his tales from,” said Sheik.

Freetown’s Secret Food Market

Ishmael also painted a situation as if food was not available and extremely inadequate, yes there was scarcity but not like the one he presented indicating there was a secret market where food was sold to civilians secretly for fear of armed men interrupting the sales in broad-day light. Mabinty Koroma, a trader who used to sell goods for some Indians during the ‘Revo’ period says; “Prices went up, and some shops were closed during that period, but it was not that dire and chaotic. There were also incidents when armed men would sometimes harass us for money but they never robbed us in broad day light or create pandemonium whilst we sell our goods” said Mabinty.

Also there were instances when civilians were attacked, murdered or robbed at night. But broad daylight instances of such incidence were not so prevalent. Infact there were even marriages and other social events during what was referred to as the ‘Revo’ (period covering the May 25, 1997 coup to the liberation of Freetown on February 1998). That said, the city was not safe, and many don’t venture too far away from their homes, and those who did, make sure they returned before dark.

Five Months Non-stop Firing

In Chapter 21, page 204, Ishmael presented a case where armed men ran after and fired at a crowd of people in broad daylight. In page 206, he writes, “In the morning, families (In Freetown) sat on their verandas and held their children close, staring at the city streets where gunmen roamed in groups, looting, raping, and killing people at will… Sometimes during the day there were several plumes of smoke rising from houses that had been set on fire by gunmen.” This scene is more fitted for January 6 1999, not for the period under which the much loathed AFRC/RUF regime were trying to convince a resolute public that they had brought ‘peace’ and they were ‘fit to rule’. Also contrary to what Ishmael pointed out, gunshots never continued constantly in Freetown for the next five months after the student demo. There was a lull that halted during the October ship bombing incident in which many believed that the rebels went up the mountain and rained rockets down the city on the pretext that it was ECOMOG’s missile attempt to stop one sanction-breaking ship from violating the UN embargo that was passed on the Junta. The other major firing incident before the liberation of the city on February 1998 was when a military plane secretly scaled the city’s airspace one night. “That was the most ferocious non stop firing incident in the city many witnessed as we fired from all angle in Freetown towards the air, many civilians were caught by stray bullets that night, I emptied over fifteen case of bullets that night,” recalled Mark, a.k.a. Makanaky who was then a child combatant with the RUF but now runs a poda-poda (mini bus) as a driver in Freetown.

Family Slaughter at New England Ville

Also, there are other incidents presented in the book that never happened. Ishmael correctly mentioned in his book several times the dominance of the BBC as a reliable news channel Sierra Leoneans trusted. Apart from the BBC African Service which comprehensively covered Sierra Leone during the heat of the war, there was a pluralistic and vibrant print media in the country that covered variety of event from different angles and interests. There were certain events that would never go unreported, especially those that happened in Freetown (Even during the ‘Revo’, most newspapers boldly and defiantly continue to publish). Furthermore the boisterous underground Radio Democracy, FM 98.1 which was being fed by mainly journalists in the country gave daily update about events across the country, especially the ones that showed the mass defiance on the part of the majority of Sierra Leoneans to accept the AFRC/RUF regime of Major Johnny Paul Koroma. So therefore one incident mentioned by Ishmael that never happened was this: “One evening, a neighbour who lived a few doors down my uncle’s house (At New England Ville, Freetown) was listening to a pirate radio station that accused the new government of committing crimes against civilians. A few minutes later, a truck full of soldier stopped in front of the man’s house dragged him, his wife, and his two older sons outside, shot them and kicked their bodies into the nearby gutter.”

The incident that actually happened (but not mentioned in Ishmael’s book) and caught the attention of the public and international media was the one concerning the woman at Kissy who was listening to FM 98.1 and later confronted by a soldier whom she defiantly challenged before she was shot. It was the talk of the town and several people flocked to see the dead woman lying dead on the ground and bleeding profusely. So an incident which saw a whole family being massacred would have raised more public notice. To ascertain this I called former minister of information, Dr Julius Spencer who was the then head of FM 98.1, he told me quite clearly that there was not a time he recalled anything like that happened. Spencer who also happens to be one of the leading literature scholars in the country said he has not read the book, but from the reviews he had read, he doubt it very much whether Ishmael depicted the truth in his work.

Shoot-out at a Mysterious Freetown Children’s Home

Moreover, an incident that Beah also highlighted in the children’s home where he claimed that six people lost their lives after they (army child combatants) clashed with RUF kids on their arrival on January 1996 never occurred. I checked newspapers clippings at the renowned Fourah Bay College Sierra Leone section library and spoke to many journalists and NGO workers at the time who said that they have no doubt that event never occurred. The fact that Ishmael wilfully omitted the name or location of the said centre in Freetown raised further doubts about an event no one here seems to recall.

Sierratel Lines Down

There are several other issues that were clearly wrong such as his assertions that that the Sierratel phones weren’t working anymore by October 1997, a journalists who prefers to be anonymous because of his links with the present government says, “I use to send information for the clandestine FM 98.1 radio station using Sierratel lines, so I’m surprise to hear from someone that their lines were off. There were times when the lines would go down, but repairs were promptly done. Surprisingly we also had more electricity supply more than usual because the illegal junta regime was trying to woo the defiant majority. There was even electricity supply on the eve of ECOMOG invasion of the city; when the Nigerian ECOMOG troops triumphantly entered the city many people came out serving them very cold water from their freezers.”

All Hospitals and Pharmacies Closed

Another obvious fabrication was his claims that when his uncle fell ill during the ‘Revo’, all the hospitals and pharmacies were closed. Ishmael claimed most of the doctors and nurses had left the country and those who were still around fear that if they left their homes they would not be able to return back to their families. I put that to Dr S Kamara who was practising then, he was shocked to hear that and couldn’t believe until I showed him a copy of the excerpt in the book. He agreed that there were times that they feared and couldn’t get to work, but that the main hospitals in the city were always opened throughout the ‘Revo’ period. “People use to come to my house and go to the hospitals, clinics and other places for treatment, but to say all the hospitals and pharmacies were closed during the ‘Revo’ and that we feared to leave our houses, that is a huge fabrication. I cannot purchase this book for a dime,” he said. According to Patricia Collier, who was a nurse at the PCM Hospital, some of the doctors made a lot of sacrifice at that time, pointing out to Dr Nicol who was very regular, sometimes working overtime. “Because most of us saw it as a crisis period we gave our deep commitment and worked under hard circumstances, it would interest you to know that I was at the hospital working when the ECOMOG liberation of Freetown started in February 1998. Most of us however, left for our homes for our safety then,” said Patricia.

Questionable Landmarks

Even some of Ishmael’s account of streets and landmarks like ‘sitting at the jetty in the wharf at the end of Rawdon Street’ showed that he really got things mixed up, because there is the well known bus station building at the end of Rawdon Street and when you go behind the bus station there are other buildings, and you will need to walk down a long step and meet a fenced naval base that the public is barred from.

Le 300 – Two Months Average Wage

He also erroneously claimed that Immigration officers on his way to Guinea demanded Le 300 which was according to him around two months salary in Sierra Leone at the time. The fact is that the average monthly salary was far above that, and that Le 300 could only get you a pint of soft drink then, by then a single US dollar cost around Le 800. Head of the Mass Communications Department FBC, Isaac Massaqoi told me that at that time he was earning around Le 145, 000 a month at the SLBS. Isaac who has also not read the book was stunned by some of the claims he made in the book and said even the average monthly wage was far above Le 300.

Less Precision

Ishmael also tactfully avoided being clear-cut or detailed in some of his statements, for a person that witnessed the war here, one should have expected more. For instance, he never stated the exact place he put up at New England Ville and he said he attended St Edwards Secondary School in Freetown, the only explanation he offered about the school was that other pupils distanced them on their first day of schooling, that explanation quickly diverted backwards to his experience in his village.

Another aspect of exaggeration was when Ishmael went to the US embassy and was asked for his account, Ishmael (aged 16 then) said no one his age in Sierra Leone has a bank account, which is an exaggeration because there were few out there that does have an account. There are several other weak links in Ishmael’s work, but I thought that these are just some of the ones that one should focus on.

Questions not answered

I felt disappointed I could not get the view of Ishmael or his publishers on so many of the contentious and distorted information on the book, it appears as if they were just not ready to answer the critical points I was about to test them with. I did all my best to contact Ishmael through his publishers Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (FSG) whom I mailed three times and called twice, they promised to get back to me and I waited in vain. I would have loved to talk to Ishmael personally in Krio. I would have loved to ask him many things including, where in New England Ville was he living and why he got so many things wrong in his work. According to The Post Standard Ishmael gets back to Sierra Leone at least twice a year and he told the paper that he feels safer in Sierra Leone than in Brooklyn. I would have enquired why there was no attempt on his part during his visits to personally promote his book in Sierra Leone?


For the publishers, I would have asked them whether they do not have any system in place to cross-check a writer’s story in a book that was marked as a non-fiction.

After I had spoken to most Sierra Leonean, the feeling I get is that the more many Sierra Leoneans know about this book, the more they grow stunned or incensed that someone who claims to be a native of the country and also participated in the war could have got it so wrong on so many very easier aspect that should be so easy to recall. I got the feeling during my investigation that had so many Sierra Leoneans known about this book which was marked as non-fiction at the time of publishing there would have been a mass criticism of it at home.

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