A Long Way Gone

a long way gone

Who is gasemu and why does Ishmael befriend him later and tries to strangle him ? 

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In Chapter 11, as the boys get nearer to their village, the see a man cutting down ripe bananas. Beah recognizes him as Gasemu, one of the “notorious single men” of Mattru Jong. Gasemu studies the boys for a moment, then asks them to help him carry bananas to the village. As they gather the bananas, Gasemu indicates that he recognizes Beah and tells the young man that his family has been looking for him. At this news, Beah becomes impatient to reach the village but Gasemu insists on keeping a slow, steady pace. Beah becomes angry when Gasemu calls for a rest, but then Beah starts his walk before everyone else so that he may be in the lead.

Drawing nearer to the village, the boys hear gunshots, dogs barking, and people screaming. As they top the hill overlooking the village, they see smoke rising from the houses. They take cover in nearby bushes and listen to the gunfire and the screams of men, women, and children. Eventually the gunshots die down and Beah heads into the village to find his family. He finds many burnt-out houses and some charred corpses, but no one he can recognize as a member of his family. The boys hear screams coming from a burning building and break open the locked door, but only a woman and child escape the inferno.

Meanwhile, Gasemu has wandered to another part of the village. Here he sees the bodies of over twenty people, all shot in the back, and begins screaming and crying. Gasemu indicates to Beah the house his family had been staying in; Beah approaches the burnt-out hut and begins kicking its walls in rage and shock. The other boys are forced to pull him away.

Once he recovers from his undirected rage, Beah concludes that if Gasemu had not delayed them, he would have seen his family. He attacks Gasemu, eventually striking him with a pestle. The other boys hold Beah back again; Beah’s anger infects them and they turn on one another, some blaming Gasemu for their not rejoining their parents, while others defend Gasemu as innocent of any intentional harm. Gasemu intervenes to stop the fighting, insisiting that “None of this is anyone’s fault.”