The Bite of the Mango

The Bite of the Mango is the true story of Mariatu Kamara, a girl born in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone, an impoverished country on the west coast of Africa, was in a horrific civil war while Mariatu was a child. Despite the poverty in her tiny rural village, Mariatu’s first few years are happy ones, filled with friends, games and chores. Mariatu’s father has two wives, neither of whom seems very pleasant. Mariatu is given to an auntie to raise, which likely would have been a great idea had the village ot been attacked by rebels. At the age of 12, Mariatu had her hands amputated by boy-rebel soldiers.

She had been previously raped and impregnated by an older man in the village who wanted to marry her. Despite the extreme pain and suffering Mariatu’s story is one of hope and redemption. She now lives in Toronto where she attends college. She also tours North America as a UNICEF Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Mariatu’s story of life as an 11 year old child in Sierra Leone with a loving family is hattered immediately with the arrival of the civil war that brings rebels into villages to search and destroy.

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The rebels are as young as Mariatu, and they have guns, machetes, stones and boards for beating, killing, and maiming all of the people in a village. Mariatu is forced to watch 20 people, many she knows, be herded into a hut and then the hut is set on fire. Mariatu is then one of many that day who has her hands chopped off and then set free to show the President of Sierra Leone what the rebels are doing. Mariatu didn’t even know what a president was.

Mariatu goes on to tell what happens afterward, how she meets up with kind people, and also reunites with other family members who have also had their hands removed. She has journalists interview her and as her story spreads, Mariatu comes to England and Toronto to become educated and help her family back in Sierra Leone. This memoir is a testament to one girl’s courage in spite of adversity and how she works on a daily basis to tell the world the horrors that are befalling children during war.