A Long Way Gone

by Ishmael Beah
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What was the first sign of war to reach Mogbwemo in A Long Way Gone?

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The first sign of war to reach Mogbwemo is when Gibrilla tells Ishmael Beah and their friends that rebels had attacked the mining areas of Ishmael’s hometown. Gibrilla learns of this development from his teachers; it’s why he and his friends are sent home early from school that day. The information is relayed in the second section from chapter 1. The section begins with Ishmael stating, “The first time that I was touched by war I was twelve.”

After the statement, Ishmael doesn't immediately delve into how he was first “touched” by war. Rather, he broaches the first sign of war in Mogbwemo using a somewhat circuitous route. First, Ishmael discusses how he, his older brother, Junior, and their friend first discovered rap music. He talks about seeing Sugarhill Gang’s music video for “Rapper’s Delight” and then details how Junior acquires more knowledge about hip-hop. Their love for rap seems to be why they’re participating in their friend’s talent show in Mattru Jong. Unfortunately, in Mattru Jong, they find out that war has reached Mogbwemo.

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