I have to admit as Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of Boy Soldier, spoke I was both shaken and moved. What he spoke of was so foreign to anything I have seen or felt as a middle class Canadian. I don’t think I romanticize violence or war, but I know that I have the luxury to see it as entertainment through the TV shows I watch and the movies I see. I don’t exactly know how easily I will consume it now.
Before seeing this interview on The Hour I was aware of child soldiers. I have read the news stories about Africa’s “lost boys’. I have seen them on Oprah. But this interview touched me in a different way than previous exposures to this topic, to these individuals. I think that is perhaps due to the pacing of the interview. It did not feel rushed or forced. There were no platitudes, no hyperbole. Some might argue otherwise, but I think George’s sincerity and sensitivity helped make this so.
Of course, Ishmael's eloquence and composure was influential as well. It amazed me to see such candor and strength from someone who had lived through such destruction, been so vulnerable, and experienced such manipulation. I was mesmerized by his presence, drawn into his story. He was a very articulate speaker so I expect that the book will be just as engaging, just as thoughtful, and just as painful. I am definitely getting myself a copy.