Ishmael Beah is a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist who rose to fame with his acclaimed memoir, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. His first novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, was published in January 2014. Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980. He moved to the United States in 1998. In 2004 he graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in political science. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, and many other NGO panels on children affected by the war. His work has appeared in VespertinePress and LIT magazine. In this interview with Diane Ndaba, he talks about his writing and growing up in Sierra Leone.
Beah’s A Long Way Gone is a remarkable account of his life as a child soldier. The writing is so vivid that sometimes one can’t help but wonder how a person can experience such horrors and still come out sane. But Beah shows it is possible.