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«A long way gone: memoirs of a boy soldier» and «Blood diamonds» Essay

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Updated: Feb 20th, 2019

The book, a long way gone: memoirs of a boy soldier, talks about the sociological effects of the war in the Sierra Leone and the effects it had on a boy, Ishmael Beah, his brother and the rest of the society. In 1993, war broke out in Beahs village and he became entangled in it. From then on, Beah and his friends began a life of running away from the rebels, being captured by them or harassment from wary villagers. Despite undergoing these problems, the boys did not give up and they keep on looking for their families.

“Blood diamonds,” is a movie that portrays the negative effects of diamonds in the country, Sierra Leone. Due to the civil war fuelled by the diamonds, the country is torn apart as the government and rebel soldiers’ fight each other relentlessly.

Both of the stories covered by the book and the movie are set in the republic of Sierra Leone during the1990-2001 period and portray various atrocities committed on the people.

These two stories have effectively shown the effects of war in a country and the effect it has on children’s sociological lifestyles. Memoirs of a boy soldier, is told through the life experiences of Beah. Due to the revolutionary united front, the rebels, he became separated from his family and he had to adapt to a life of war. By undergoing these changes, his norms changed and various strain theories could be depicted in his behaviour and that of Simons’ son (Eberts, 2003).

Beah like other children in the country suddenly found themselves fending for themselves and having to act like adults in order to survive the war. Due to the rampant insecurity in the villages, the people had to live in the jungle whereby the survivors of the war met each other and encouraged themselves to live through the war. The government soldiers failed to offer security to the citizens and instead were a source of terror to the citizens, the same was also portrayed in “blood diamonds” only that the scale of terror was very high.

The RUF was very aggressive in it campaigns against the government and they used the people in their agenda. Just like in Beahs village, the villagers were attacked, captured by the rebels and killed mercilessly. However in Simons’ case, the villagers were attacked, the women killed and others captured into slavery.

Due to RUF’s policy against democracy, the rebels hacked of the arms of the villagers in order to prevent them from voting for their leaders. Other villagers, who were found to be physically stronger, were taken to the diamond mining fields and forced to mine diamonds for the rebels (Hemmens, 2009).

However in the two stories, the stories are told from the perspectives of two different people. Beah is a boy whose goes through the war and survived to tell it from the perspective of a child. He had to look for his family and was left alone after he could not find them. Simon too, had to look for his family; however he was not a boy but a father who became separated from them during raid in his village.

Simon as well was very determined to find his family and was ready to sacrifice anything to find his son. However, he soon learnt that his son was captured and recruited in the rebel and was significantly brainwashed into the doctrines of the RUF.

Beah on the other hand was also captured but not by the rebels but, by the government forces. Both of them were forced into the forced and indoctrinated to fight for their respective groups, thus Simons’ son and Beah were fighting against each other without will or even knowing what the true cause of the war was.

The rebels’ leaders used drugs, alcohol, films and violence to train the child soldiers which affected their mentality severely. Therefore the fighters in this civil war were mindless children who really did not understand what was going on but kept on fighting as a means of surviving (Beah, 2008).

During this period the children themselves participated in committing human atrocities on fellow villagers which was ironical as they had undergone the ordeal and their negative effects only for them to come and carry on the work. Simon who was taken to the diamond mines found others like him and had to work tirelessly, without pay every day.

Those who become frail in the process are immediately killed by the slave master, Poison. It is while working that he, Simon, came across a large pink diamond and hide it. However his enslavement came to an end when the mines are attacked by the government forces and he run away, his ordeal however did not end there (Maltins, 2008).

The war in Sierra Leone was fuelled by the presence of diamonds in the country. Instead of the minerals bringing economic empowerment to the citizens, it brought death and disparity to the people.

The diamonds mines where Simon worked were mined and exported to foreign countries and the money got from the mines used to purchase arms used to fuel the war. Ironically, Simon mined diamonds which enabled his sons war career carry on. Beah did not escape like Simon but was released to the UNICEF by the soldiers as the peace talks were taking place.

He was later taken to a rehabilitation centre where his drug and psychological traumas that he had while in the war were finally eradicated from his life. He was also lucky since a member of staff got interested in his case and offered more help to him where he finally got over his mental wounds. Simon’s son was not lucky as such as the rebels did not honour the peace talks and held onto the child soldiers who now believed they are fighting for a good cause (Beah, 2008).

In Sierra Leone a lot of illegal channels had been created in order to successfully ship out the illegal diamonds out of the country. Involved in this syndicate were foreigners who employed the services of mercenaries to successfully manoeuvre the diamonds to the border of Sierra Leone.

In the course of finding his son, Simon met a mercenary who was search of the diamonds and in a position to help him find his son in exchange of the diamond. However the effects of the war, trauma, drugs and false indoctrinations had made Simons’ son forget his father. He was almost killed by his son when he confronted him since; his son had got out of touch with reality.

Due to the conflict, human suffering and the refugees’ crisis in the country a lot of world attention was captured. As a result, Beah was chosen to speak at the UN conference in the U.S where he told the world the negative effects the vast diamond resources in the country had brought to the country and the people. He also explained the connection between the sale of the illegal diamonds and the war in the country.

Simon was flown out of Sierra Leone and after a deal, his son was realised and also flown out of the country. Just like Beah, he too talked to world leaders at a conference that was meeting to deliberate the Sierra Leone civil war, thus at the end of the day he was able to explain the curse that resulted from the diamonds existing in his country.

From both stories one is able to clearly see the effects that the diamonds have brought in the country. Diamonds are very expensive and rare jewels that are only used by the society’s elite, due to this they have an everlasting demand and dealers will often look for ways through which they can get a cheap source of them.

Sierra Leone provided a good source of cheap diamonds as there was no government to regulate and tax the diamonds. Thus it became easier for the dealers to get the diamonds as long as there was instability in the country and no central government. The RUF on the other hand needed weapons and money in order to finance the war and be in a position to overcome the government forces. Therefore, RUF and the diamond dealers formed a good business partnership since both were in need of each other.

As a result, the RUF captured villagers and forced them to work in the diamond mines, the harder they worked, the more the diamonds, the more money they got to purchase their weapons and become stronger than the government while being able to instil terror and control the people.

For the diamond dealers, the more money they gave them, the more the country became unstable thereby guarantying them wealth for a very long time. This relationship continued for a very long-time and the some of the diamond dealers substituted money for the diamonds with weapons. In the end the country’s’ citizens suffered, got maimed, enslaved and others died in wide scale.

In addition, the diamond sales did not bring any economic empowerment to the people or even the government; instead the money was squandered by the war lords. The countries infrastructure got depleted and even the diamond mines lacked the proper machinery to carry out the mining.

Instead, the miners were forced to carry out the work manually. In order to scale up their psychological control of the region, the RUF carried out nationwide amputation of limbs to prevent the citizens from ever taking place in elections and serving as a reminder to those who dared tried it (Ronald, 2006).

Due to Simons’ exposure of the ills that were brought by the illegal trading of the diamonds, the world agreed to put a stop to this by agreeing to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme that required diamond dealers to authenticate the source of their diamonds before selling them.

By doing this, purchasing of illegal diamonds from Sierra Leone was drastically cut down resulting in financial hardships for the RUF to buy ammunitions. From the above one could observe the sociological effects the war brought to children and the economical hardships from the presence of diamonds in the country.

Reference List

Beah, I (2008). A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York, NY: Farrar and Giroux.

Eberts, R. ( 2003). Movie year book. New York, NY: Andrews McMeel.

Hemmens, C. (2009). Criminological Theory. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Maltins, L. ( 2008). Movie guide. New York, NY: Plume

Ronald, M. (2006). Criminology: theory, research, and policy. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Barlett Learning

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IvyPanda. 2019. "«A long way gone: memoirs of a boy soldier» and «Blood diamonds»." February 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-long-way-gone-memoirs-of-a-boy-soldier-and-blood-diamonds/.


IvyPanda. (2019) '«A long way gone: memoirs of a boy soldier» and «Blood diamonds»'. 20 February.

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