Oct. 3, 2008
Ishmael Beah, 27-year-old author of the book “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22, in Eppley Auditorium, 3625 Garretson Avenue, on the Morningside College campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Beah’s account of his horrifying life as a 13-year-old child soldier in Sierra Leone during one of Africa’s most brutal civil wars has sold more than 600,000 copies worldwide. Time magazine named Beah’s memoir one of the 10 best non-fiction books published in 2007. Now a resident of New York City, Beah came to the United States in 1998, finished high school and obtained his college degree.
Morningside College President John Reynders provided Beah’s book, autographed by the author, to all 302 members of Morningside’s freshman class as part of the college’s first-year studies summer reading program. The students and their instructors have been discussing the book this semester in the Passport class that is required for all first-year Morningside students.
Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980. He was separated from his family at the age of 12 when rebel soldiers attacked his village. The government army pressed him into service as a child soldier at age 13, along with hundreds of other children who were forced to fight by both sides in the civil war. Rescued by UNICEF when he was 16 and sent to a rehabilitation center, Beah was eventually adopted by an American woman and brought to the United States. He finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York. In 2004, he graduated from Oberlin College with a bachelor’s degree 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 and the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.
Beah’s lecture is sponsored by Morningside’s Academic and Cultural Arts Series.