Austinites, this Monday night at 7 at the Alamo South, there will be a screening of Cry Freetown, a widely acclaimed film about the Sierra Leonian civil war, along with a short film about child soldiers. The screening and subsequent discussion are sponsored by the City of Austin as part of the Mayor's Book Club initiative. You can read the press release for the event below - and note that The Advisor will be speaking as part of tomorrow night's events. If you're in or around Austin, please join me for an evening of learning about this very important issue.
Each year in the City of Austin, the Mayor chooses one book of either critical or social importance for the city to get behind as part of the Mayor's Book Club and the 'Keep Austin Reading' program. The book selected this year by Mayor Will Wynn is A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah- an incredible, autobiographical account of Sierra Leone's civil war and the story of Beah's own experiences as a child soldier.
Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980 and at the age of 12 the war had infiltrated his home town. Beah's work stands out due to his unique role: child soldier turned memoirist turned children's rights advocate. The reader is powerfully reminded that the author is not merely reporting horrors, but describing the horrors that he survived. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is an important- and needed -contribution to the discussion of war and child exploitation. Encapsulating hardship, toil, and eventual success, Beah combines the dire with the motivating. He survived, graduated from Oberlin College, and has funneled his horrific experience into a passionate advocacy for children throughout the world.
We are proud to be part of a week-long series of events the Mayor's office has scheduled to celebrate Beah's accomplishment and to shed light on the cause.
Join Mayor Will Wynn for a special free screening of two documentaries about civil war and the plight of child soldiers in Sierra Leone, followed by a panel discussion by professors, refugees and other local experts about the films, the situation and Beah's masterful book.
Sorious Samura's CRY FREETOWN has become a phenomenon. A brutal portrayal of what happened in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone in January 1999, the film has succeeded in making the horror of this country's civil war a matter of international outrage. Sorious Samura shot the film at great risk for his own life, keenly aware of the fact that the strong images he recorded were the only thing that could shake the world from its indifference to the plight of his countrymen, women and children.
CHILD SOLDIERS IN SIERRA LEONE
Part of Showtime's WHAT'S GOING ON? series, this documentary follows Michael Douglas on a journey to discover the past, but more importantly, work towards a better future for child soldiers forced to fight in a brutal civil war.
The panel, moderated by Mayor Wynn, will include:
Gilbert Tuhabonye- National Champion runner currently coaching young athletes at Run Tex here in Austin, Mr. Tuhabonye, a Tutsi refugee, narrowly escaped an unspeakable attack by Hutu tribesmen in his native Burundi. For a complete account of his incredible story and to see the impact he has made on our great city, visit the Gilbert's Gazelles webpage.
Catherine Boone- Professor of Government, scholar of territorial politics and rural property rights in contemporary Africa and the president of the West Africa Research Association.
Alan Kuperman- Professor of Public Affairs, an expert in ethnic conflict and military intervention and the author of The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda.
Pick up a copy of A Long Way Gone. Read it. And join the Alamo, Mayor Will Wynn and the City of Austin for this very important event.