The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has an entry on Ishmael Beah that may mislead reporters, producers and others seeking facts about the author of A Long Way Gone. This post is an attempt to clarify some of the statements that may cause confusion. It may be updated to deal with others.
“He now considers his foster mother, Laura Simms, his mother.”
Ishmael Beah says Laura Simms is “my adoptive mother.”
“Ishmael Beah Takes a Public Stand,” by Michael Coffey, Publishers Weekly Jan. 21, 2008. www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6524214.html.
Laura Simms’s Web site refers to “her adopted son Ishmael Beah.” www.laurasimms.com.
“He and other soldiers smoked marijuana and sniffed amphetamines and ‘brown-brown’, a mix of cocaine and gunpowder.”
Jon Stewart said,while questioning Beah on the Daily Show on February 14, 2007, that the drugs included crystal meth. Beah did not correct him and appeared to nod www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=82274&title=ishmael-beah.
“Beah currently works for the Human Rights Watch Children’s Division Advisory Committee, lives in Brooklyn, and is considering attending graduate school.”
On Nov. 20, 2007 Beah was appointed the UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War. www.unicef.org/people/media_41827.html.
Janice Harayda is an award-winning journalist who has been the book editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio, and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle.
© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.