Study Guide

Ishmael's Friends in A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

By Ishmael Beah

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Ishmael's Friends

Throughout the course of his story, Ishmael runs into a whole bunch of different friends. This is pretty lucky for him—he doesn't have to be alone—but also a little bit unlucky since large groups of boys travelling together scare the people they meet. They look like they might be soldiers out killing and maiming. Still there's comfort in numbers. Here are the boys in Ishmael's ranks:


Ishmael's friend from back in Mogbwemo. They're stranded together in Mattru Jong when rebels attack their village and drive away or kill their families. Ishmael loses track of him during an attack on the village of Kamator.


A friend from Mattru Jong. Ishmael travels with Gibrilla after his village is attacked. The boys wind up working at a farm in Kamator where Gibrilla's aunt and uncle live until rebels attack there, too, and Ishmael is separated from him as well.


Ishmael stays at Khalilou's house while he's in Mattru Jong and sets on out on the road with him after the village is raided. He, too, is separated from Ishmael during the attack on Kamator.


Kaloko's from Mattru Jong, too, and one of the friends from Ishmael's first leg of his journey. When Kamator is attacked, Kaloko and Ishmael hide out from the rebels in a swamp until Ishmael decides to make a run for it. Kaloko's too afraid to leave and that's the last Ishmael ever sees of him.


Ishmael meets Alhaji as he's leaving his stay in the forest. The two boys went to school together in Mattru Jong and end up travelling and fighting together in the army of Sierra Leone. Alhaji also goes to the same rehabilitation center as Ishmael and is his constant companion there. The last time Ishmael sees Alhaji is when he leaves to go live with his Uncle Tommy. He hears later that Alhaji just bounced from foster home to foster home never really finding any place he belonged.


Musa went to school with Ishmael also and he's the storyteller of the second group of boys that Ishmael travels with. He's killed by rebels in the first battle the boys have as part of the army. It's definitely the day the stories died.


Another one of Ishmael's friends from school, Kanei's the oldest of the second group of boys that Ishmael meets. He also serves with Ishmael in the army, but doesn't get sent to the rehabilitation center maybe because he's older and, therefor totally not in need of rehabilitation at all, right?


Saidu travels with Ishmael and has perhaps the most tragic back-story in the entire book. He hides in an attic while he hears his family being brutalized and his three sisters gang raped by rebels. In the end, Saidu seems to die of all the fear and sadness. He just can't keep on going after all he's seen and been through.


Moriba is close friends with Saidu and fights with Ishmael in the army as well. Sadly, he's killed by rebels during a later battle.


Ishmael travels with Jumah, too, and last sees him at a camp where he's stationed with the army in Bauya. This is just before Ishmael is discharged from the army and sent to the dreaded rehabilitation center.


Ishmael meets this fellow boy soldier in the rehabilitation center as well. After a tense introduction that involves a grenade, the boys become friends. Eventually, Mambu is forced to head back to the frontlines to start fighting again because his family won't agree to take him in. Bummer.


Mohamed is Ishmael's best friend from back in Mogbwemo. The two boys don't see each other during the entire book until Mohamed also shows up at Benin Center. Ishmael enjoys talking about his childhood with someone else who knows him. Eventually, Mohamed comes to live with Ishmael's Uncle Tommy, too, and the two boys remain close even after Ishmael leaves for America.

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