‘Why did you leeave Sierra Leone?’
‘Because there is a war.’
‘Did you witness some of the fighting?’
‘Everybody in the country did.’
I smile a little.
‘You should tell us about it sometime.’
This is the story of Ishmael Beah’s childhood — how, aged just 12, he fled from rebels attacking his village to wander a violent land, before being conscripted into the army — where he learnt that he too was capable of terrible acts. Once he emerged he decided to tell his story, a story of the loss of innocence and the power of redemption.
This is the first first-hand account of how wars are now fought: by children, on drugs, with AK-47s. In more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, there are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah was one of them.