Ishmael Beah, in his moving true story of civil war, violence, and eventual assimilation from his terrible life as a child soldier clearly illustrates the problem faced by so many across the African continent. War-torn nations are filled with soldiers younger than ten years old–manipulated by brainwashing, drugs, and threat of death.
As in the story of Ishmael, these child soldiers are used on the battlefield, and literally reprogrammed to do so. It is hard to picture an eight year old with enough malice in his heart to fire into an innocent crowd with a machine gun, but unfortunately due to the impressionability of the ages in question, this literal brainwashing can be hard to reverse, making assimilation very difficult, especially in the tragic case of ups and downs of Ishmael.
That is perhaps his biggest hardship in moving out of his violent lifestlye–his individual case involved so many conflicting views, between being a refugee to soldier to refugee to soldier, it was very hard for Ishmael to turn his back on his violent ways.
Another hardship Ishmael faced before moving to New York was the assimilation itself. Being removed from war-torn Sierra Leone was one thing, but moving to America–the epitome of a Western nation–involved much more than a small lifestyle change. Sure, Ishmael had seen Freetown, as well as other cities in Africa, but never anything like New York City. Though he was moving to finish high school at the United Nations with others in similar situations, he could never have been prepared for the gravity of what he was in store for.
Probably the hardest thing for Ishmael was to learn to trust again. Though he had been subject to kindness in the psychotherapy he received in Africa, relearning how to interact with regular people on a daily basis must have been terribly hard, considering the past he was coming from as a whole.
In the movie Blood Diamond, journalist Maddie Bowen is in Sierra Leone to uncover the secrets of the diamond trade, and how it was fueling its own civil war. In the movie, this is explained to the viewer by the escapades of main character Danny Archer, a diamond smuggler and ex-mercenary.
Maddie is investing the claims that dirty diamonds, or diamonds smuggled out of Sierra Leone by both the RUF and the government, were being mixed in with conflict-free diamonds.
Instead, however, Maddie ended up documenting much more than the illegal diamond trade in Sierra Leone. In her travels with Danny Archer, she is exposed to the nastier parts of the bloody conflict most journalists would never see–child soldiers, murder, and the wars and consequences that go with it. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the character of the older man who is shot by the child–the same older man who was trying to rehabilitate the children they had rescued from the war.
Her journalistic perspective is definitely the most effective of all. With her pictures of everything from the refugee camps to the murders at the hands of the government, the RUF, and mercenaries, as well as the story that went with it, certainly served to pull on the heartstrings of the viewer or reader. However, the conflict in Sierra Leone, as well as much of West Africa, are still raging after the world is aware–calling whether any journalistic perspective would have been effective.
Truly, the fact that the conflict is still raging to this day is more than enough evidence to support this fact. The UN has made improvements, as illustrated at the end of Blood Diamond, to sort out conflict diamonds, but its effectiveness is questionable at best.
The problem in Africa, as Danny Archer stated to Maddie in the movie, is always the same. The commodity changes–Archer mentions “gold, oil, ivory, diamonds…its all the same.” He goes on to explain how the resources are always exploited, so the situation will remain the same.