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THE bite of the mango

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Breanna Richards

on 7 June 2014

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Transcript of THE bite of the mango

Susan McClelland
Susan McClealland, was born in Toronto, Canada. She works as a freelance magazine journalist. McClealland's work is best known for its appearances in
Macleans, More, Canadian Living, The Walrus, Today's Parent, Chatelaine, The Globe and Mail, and Reader's Digest.
She is an award winning author, earning numerous awards for her investigative reports and feature-writing.
McClealland dominantly writes about women and children issues and is the recipient of the 2005 Amnesty International Media Award.
Meet the author
Main Character
The Bite of the Mango takes place during the 1991 Sierra Leone Civil War. This war was cruel and dark, fought for a total of 10 years (1991-2001). It was mainly fought for control over the government and the possession of resources in Sierra Leone: diamonds. Rebels apart of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) would raid many towns in Sierra Leone, holding countless innocent civilians hostage,in order to send a message to the government, and capture any suspected opponents of their movement. One of their most known methods of torture was to cut off the arms and legs of their victims, not wanting people to vote at the democratic election. This war was most famous for its use of child soldiers, an issue that periodically appears in the memoir. The rebels took control of Sierra Leone until they were pushed back by the governmental armies. By 2001, Sierra Leone elected a new president, and the war came to a cease fire. The 10 minute video below highlights the concepts of the Sierra Leone Civil War.
THE bite of the mango
Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland
Mariatu Kamara
Mariatu Kamara, 28, was born on May 26, 1986 in the nation of Sierra Leone, West Africa. Kamara's haunting experiences as a child survivor of the 1991 Sierra Leone civil war is the basis of her memoir,
The Bite of the Mango.
She currently works as a UNICEF Special Representative, who speaks out for Children in Armed Conflicts across North America.
In the future, she wishes to work for the United Nations to raise awareness of the effect war has on children. Along with this, Kamara aspires to start a foundation that raises money for homes for abused children and women in Sierra Leone.
She would like to share her peacekeeping skills she has learned through UNICEF and other projects, with youth.
Meet the author
Mariatu Kamara
Mariatu Kamara, 28, was born on May 26, 1986 was born and raised in the nation Sierra Leone, West Africa. Kamara's haunting experiences as a child survivor of the 1991 Sierra Leone civil war is the basis of her memoir, The Bite of the Mango.
She currently works as a UNICEF Special Representative, who speaks out for Children in Armed Conflicts across North America.

Meet the author
"A powerful and timely story"

Ishmael beah
#1 New York Times Bestselling author of A Long Way Gone
The Bite of the Mango
, in its entirety, is told in the coming of age point of view of Mariatu Kamara. Mariatu begins the story as a young 12 year old girl living in Magboru, Sierra Leone. When news of rebels entered her hometown, her and her family leave to a neighboring city, Manamara, to escape the predicted rebel route. Unfortunately, she still gets caught up in the invasions, which ultimately left her without hands.Despite the hardships to follow, Mariatu remains a bubbly, positive girl who looks to the future, rather than the past. Her story is sure to inspire everyone with her courageous words of optimism.
Photographs of Mariatu
This video highlights an interview done with Mariatu, about her experiences during the Civil War, which were then incorporated into her book.
WHY YOU need to read this book!!!
Eye Opener
Why should
read this book?
Here at Spoiled Bananas, we surveyed 100 people, and asked them the essential question. "Why should people read The Bite of the Mango?" We recorded the top 5 opinions.
Dwight Mingler, 47, says:

"The Bite of the Mango brings awareness about the Sierra Leone Civil War and the scaring effects that it had on children, to people living all over the world. Her memoir brings urgent attention to the general issue of Civil War and just how lasting of an effect it can have on innocent civilians such as Mariatu. Even though Civil War is said to be fought brother against brother, sometimes brothers can be just as ruthless as strangers. They are no longer viewed as brothers, but enemies. The Sierra Leone Civil War has left many as war amputees, missing essential limbs such as arms and legs. Victims are forced to live the rest of their lives like this, reminded everyday of the heart-wrenching experiences that had been endured. Kamara's book also speaks of the children forced to partake in doing the actual killing; those of who were brainwashed and deprived of their childhood."
Bill Tidal, 32, an active supporter in UNICEF organizations, says:

The Bite of the Mango
is encouraging to people living all around the world. Reading this story about such a positive and strong girl and her experiences when she was just 12 years old, really sends the message, "Never Give Up." Throughout the story there has been multiple instances in which Mariatu feels like she wants to abandon her life because of the devastating experiences that have plagued her; but she constantly keeps getting up, and tells herself that she is worth having a life. We can take an imperative lesson from Mariatu.
The Bite of the Mango
tells us that no matter what we may be going through in life, we need to look ahead and push forward. We might not realize it now, but doing so will all be worth it in the end. The words that she uses are truly reassuring and relevant in the time period that we live in today."
Spoiled Bananas Inc.
Spoiled Bananas Inc.
is taking you for an inside look into the captivating story behind New York Times Bestseller,
The Bite of The Mango
. See the world through the eyes of young Mariatu Kamara, as she captivates us with her stirring experiences during the 1991-2001 Sierra Leone Civil War.
War amputees
Sierra Leone
Child Soldiers

Sophie Jackson, 40, says:
"The Bite of the Mango is such an inspiring story. Sometimes, we take advantage of our current situation. We fail to realize that there are lots of people out there who are less fortunate then us. Reading Mariatu's story inspired me to speak out against war, and the abduction and use of child soldiers. It's really a take action story, that I believe can inspire everyone to do at least one thing to help those who are mute in this world today. I am now founder of an informative website that speaks of the issues of Civil War, war amputees, and child soldiers and how they still effect our society. More and more people are getting informed everyday because of my actions. I owe all of my success to the powerful message conveyed by
The Bite of the Mango
Carl Howe, 22, says:
The Bite of the Mango
truly opened my eyes. I never knew how serious the issue of war could be until I read an experience first hand. Now I know just how serious war is. I just thought that since it didn't effect me, then it didn't really matter. But war branches out to more than the country that experienced it. Each time a war happens, I feel that humanity sort of deteriorates as a whole. A single war can cause a chain reaction. It can inspire the actions of others, or lead to other impacting events. The book even spoke of other governments getting involved in the conflict. So the truth is, war, wherever it may be, is a global effort that effects us as a generation.
The Bite of the Mango
really taught me that."
Many children were victim. The war was
“… honest, raw and powerful …”
—School Library Journal
“... she may not have hands but she does have a voice—and it is a powerful one that deserves our attention.”
—Professionally Speaking
“Told simply and accessibly, Mariatu Kamara’s story will intrigue, inform and, in places, shock teen readers ... A remarkable book.”
—Canadian Children's Book News
“Its brilliance lies in simultaneously revealing the shocking brutality of war and the immense will and courage of youth to rise up for justice.”
—WOW Reviews
“… a story told with equal measures of compassion and detachment that allows the reader to be both shocked and locked in. It’s good, really good. Highly recommended.”
—CM Magazine
Ben Israel, 15, says:
"The Bite of the Mango is such a heartfelt book. The deep and emotional language that Kamara uses, draws the reader into her story and makes it their own, a real page turner, filled with raw affection. When I read about the rebels cutting off her hands, at each chop I could feel pain coursing throughout my body. That scene gave me chills. There's not many books like this out there anymore. I think everyone should read it whenever they're feeling down. It makes me feel good. The book is simply a good read."
More information about her can be found at http://www.susanmcclelland.com/
The topic of war is one of the most important themes in
The Bite of the Mango
. As a war amputee, Mariatu brings to the attention of the reader the impacting effect that war can have on people, especially children. From the invasion of her hometown in Sierra Leone, Mariatu is forced to live without her two hands, having them been chopped off by child soldiers not too far from her age. The rebels forced her to be different from everyone else. She went from a joyous twelve year old girl, to a distraught pre-teen, desperately begging on the streets of Freetown for her next meal. War left her homeless, and scarred with images of her dear loved ones being shot to the ground. Mariatu recognizes that she is one of many who are affected by war every waking hour of the day. Boys are being pulled away from their families, drugged, and taught to be ruthless killers. War amputees have to adapt to new ways of living. It's all so intense and horrible.
The Civil War is always present throughout the book, having been a key factor to her story.
Post living in Sierra Leone, Mariatu notably has trouble forgiving herself. When her baby boy, Abdul dies, that she had had from being raped, she begins to blame herself for being a bad mother. It takes her time to come to terms that Abdul had died, not from her unsatisfactory parenting skills, because conditions in Sierra Leone don't allow for proper nutrition, especially with the whole country under rebel attack. Mariatu faces a depression stage in her life that allows the story to take a turn for a man vs. self conflict. It takes a while for Mariatu to finally forgive herself and face the realizations, that some things that happen in life, take its natural course. She becomes a stronger and better person from overcoming her own negative conscious.
Mariatu first migrates from Sierra Leone to England where she is offered a chance for an education. There, she has to adapt to a foreign lifestyle as well as English customs. The way that people treated each other was noticeably different then in Sierra Leone. The country was more wealthy than Sierra Leone, so she had to get used to their advanced technology and language. Mariatu was enrolled into an English as a Second Language (ESL) class, and struggled to learn the language. She eventually got used to the foreign customs.
Mariatu then immigrates to Canada to live with a host family, most known for harboring victims of the Sierra Leone Civil War. She stays with them and develops a love for Canada. She begins to go to school with the children living in the house, and they help her to get used to Canadian customs. Like England, Canada is a wealthier nation than Sierra Leone. She struggles with the currency, and way of dress, battling the new country's customs with her West African roots. She shows a strong liking towards living in Canada and makes it her new home..
… many things have changed because of the war. And witchcraft can’t change the past. I wish a spell could have stopped the attack on you. But you have turned your hurt and pain into something positive. When those demons reappear, think about all the angels who have come into your life since then. (Kamara 204)
"The dead died because it was their time. They wouldn't want you spending your remaining days here on earth crying about them" (Kamara 15).
Breanna Richards
Mr. Miskimon
Honors Modern World History/ Period 4
2 June 2014

This PowerPoint highlights the issue of child soldiers today.
UN passed protocols:
no combatants under age 18

US, UK, and other countries
have not signed UN agreement
US allows 17 (parental consent)
UK allows 16

UN military personnel:
peace keeping

United Nations Involvement

promise of safety
sense of community
motivated by poverty & hunger

Some Volunteer

adults can resist warlords; children can’t
available in great numbers
easily manipulated
intensely loyal

“The Perfect Weapon”

15-year-old soldier with
her infant in Liberia

mental & emotional

in Abuse

"There might have been a little rhetoric at the beginning,
but very quickly the ideology gets lost, and then
it just becomes a bloodbath ... a war of madness.” — Ishmael Beah

End of colonial rule
Freedom challenged
Criminal drives
by warlords

Fighting Adult Causes
(Sometimes not knowing why)

"No one is born violent. No child in Africa,
Latin America, or Asia wants to be part of war.”
— Ishmael Beah at a Paris conference, author of A Long Way Gone


kidnapped from families
taken from orphanages

Forced to serve
Uganda: Lord’s Resistance Army
teaches child soldiers to burn
huts and beat infants to death
Iran: child soldiers used to
clear mine fields in 1980s
Palestine: children from the
West Bank & Gaza used
as suicide bombers


Issues in Global Literature—Intermediate

Child Soldiers

Children at a mission school in Africa

“It's ridiculous to appeal to
human rights with these groups
because they are so far on the criminal end of the spectrum.”

— Victoria Forbes Adam
Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

restore children to their families when possible
return to former communities
enroll in schools
place in homes

Human Rights Groups’ Efforts

“I shot at everything that moved.”
— Beah

Child soldiers being trained in Thailand

Drawing by former child soldier Ishamel A. Kamara, age 18.

“brown brown”
(cocaine and gunpowder)

Fueled by
Drug Use

"These are brutally thuggy people who don't want to rule politically and have no strategy for winning a war.''

— Professor Neil Boothby
Columbia University

extreme punishments
death for desertion
rejection upon return
orphaned, homeless
no where else to go

Intimidated by Fear

"The commanders would wear certain pearls and said that guns wouldn't hurt us, and we believed it.''
— Beah

In the Congo, leaders told boys that if they
ate their victims they would grow stronger.

commanders conjure spirits
magic & superstition
oils & amulets

Bound by Belief

in more than 85 countries

both boys & girls

ages 8 to 18

recent United Nations estimation:
250,000 child soldiers worldwide

current Amnesty International count:
over 300,000 child soldiers

Contemporary Crisis

separated from families
denied educational opportunities
denied health care
denied a childhood

Weakened by Deprivation

Above: Maxwell Fornah and Victor Musa, members of the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club of Sierra Leone, Freetown April 2006.

Rescue, Rehabilitation & Hope

There are more than 6,000 amputees in Sierra Leone as a result of civil war. Former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor, is accused of backing a rebel group that cut off limbs, mutilated and raped thousands of civilians in Sierra Leone.

Rebels called the amputation of just four fingers “one love” after the rastafarian phrase “thumbs up.”




Trained to Kill

Historical Tradition

1861 US Civil War

1914 WWI

1967 Cambodia

1964 Vietnam War


Sri Lanka

A Global Issue

1846 Mexican American War

1918 Russian Civil War

1943 Hitler Youth in Nuremburg












Full transcript