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Lawrence Wong

Ms. Rae

Hon. Eng. 9

29 Jan 2016

A Different Perspective

From wars on diamonds in Sierra Leone to racism in the United States, conflict exists in

modern society. These conflicts, when viewed from one perspective, appear horrific, but when

viewed from another perspective seem justified. When one hears children may be forced to

commit atrocities against their own families (Globalization 101), one assumes that these

children were born this way and that it is in their nature to kill. Clearly, the children in Sierra

Leone are not born to kill their own family and innocent civilians, and therefore, they must have

done it for other reasons. From only one angle one is bound to see only part of the picture such

as the story of Sierra Leone; therefore, before making a judgement about a people or place, it is

important that one sees the story from different angles.

From the Blood Diamonds documentary, one learns about the war in Sierra Leone over

diamond mines. The film expresses that only the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was bad,

and rarely states anything about the atrocities that the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council

(ARFC), the good side, committed. Throughout the film we repeatedly learn about how the

RUF forced civilians to work in the mines, how they cut off civilians hands so they couldnt vote,

and how the RUF killed their former neighbors (Blood Diamonds). As a result, most viewers

would suffer from a single story as their only knowledge of the war in Sierra Leone is from this
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documentary. They would believe that only the RUF committed crimes to this extent and that

the ARFC were the ones who held them at bay.

Though the documentary may be one-sided, one can get another perspective through

the book A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. Ishmael is the victim of the danger of a single

story when he fails to view the story from all sides. Ishmael last saw his brother when they were

farming in Kamator until a RUF attack separated them (Beah 43). After this experience, Ishmael

associates the RUF negatively and whoever fights the RUF, the ARFC, in his case, is his savoir.

This is the danger of a single story: based on one experience, Ishmael creates his picture of

Sierra Leone and the civil war, which is not completely correct. Eventually, the ARFC easily pulls

Ishmael and other children into their army, and the child soldiers terrorize innocent civilians

and only sometimes approach the enemy, the RUF. When Ishmael is in the rehabilitation

center, he meets a RUF soldier who joined the RUF because the army killed [his] family and

destroyed [his] village, (Beah 134). This boy also suffered the single story except that it was the

ARFC who murdered his family instead of the RUF. If exposed to the other side of the story

beforehand, all child soldiers would have realized that both the ARFC and RUF are cruel as they

maim civilians and terrorize villages.

Due to Ishmaels history as a boy soldier, he has trouble maintaining a stable

relationship because his girlfriends also suffer from the danger of the single story. What

Ishmaels girlfriends know about child soldiers is that the soldiers shoot and kill innocent

civilians. Here again is the danger of a single story. With only one perspective the girls dont see

that the commanders would give children drugs prior to any attacks so that the children would

do anything they were ordered to do (The Levin Institute). Also the girls are not aware of
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Ishmaels dependence on drugs nor of his suffering from the withdrawal. Consequently, this is

why Ishmael never explained his history with his girlfriends and why they eventually ended the

relationships. Later, Ishmael travels to the United Nations (UN) in New York City where he

meets people with similar experiences. There Ishmael is not afraid of sharing his story as

everyone there has seen all sides of the Sierra Leone conflict or an equivalent and can relate to

his experiences.

Through the story of Sierra Leone many suffer from the single story. If one bases his/her

perception of Sierra Leone on a single source he/she is bound to create a wrong picture of the

country. After watching the Blood Diamonds documentary, most would have believed that the

RUF was corrupt for its use of child soldiers, but what the viewers would not have known was

that the ARFC was also used child soldiers and killed innocent civilians. This also extends out of

Sierra Leone and includes the whole world; one should not base his/her thoughts and feelings

on one story, but on many different perspectives.

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Works Cited

Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and

Giroux, 2007. Print.

Blood Diamonds. By Bill Brummel and June Molgaard. Perf. Luc Berlin-Unkap, Hope Olaide

Wilson, Jeffrey Wright. Bill Brummel Productions Inc., 2006.

The Levin Institute. "Child Soldiers | Globalization101." Globalization101. Globalization 101.

Web. 21 Jan. 2016.