The Bite of the Mango by Kamara

Table of Contents

The theme of the autobiography, The Bite of the Mango, by Kamara and McClelland is that in order to overcome personal tragedy a person must have strength and intelligence. Mariata possessed both of these qualities, which allowed her to endure the hardships she faced during the civil war in Sierra Leone and afterward.In the beginning of the novel, Mariatu lived a normal life with her aunt and uncle in Sierra Leone. Mariatu was a generous girl, who helped carry buckets of water made of straw from the lake. When Mariatu was ten years old, she went to the next town over to visit her birth parents. But little did she know, the rebels attacked when she was in Magborou getting resources for her family to live on; that day changed her life forever.

Mariatu’s uncle, Alie, asked her and her cousin, Adamsay, to go back to Magborou, her home village, with a couple of other people to get resources so they could survive in Manarma, the next town over from Magborou. When Mariatu and Adamsay got to Magborou, they heard gunshots and so one of the women, that they went with, told them to go back because it was too dangerous. On their way home they got captured by the rebels, who made Mariatu watch them kill and harm several people, but after a while, they didn’t want Mariatu anymore, so they let her go free but, before she left the rebels leader claimed that she had to get punished. Mariatu was confused until he asked her which hand she wanted to lose first. Mariatu instantly broke into tears; she tried running away but some rebel boys, about the same age as her, caught her. Mariatu was trying to get on the boys’ good side so he would let her go free. “‘I like you,’ I implored, trying to get on his good side. ‘Why do you want to hurt someone who likes you?’’ (Kamara 40). This is one of the first times that Mariatu shows that she’s intelligent; she tried to manipulate him into thinking that she cares about him so that he’ll feel horrible, and won’t cut her hands off.

This was only Mariatus first challenge, however, throughout the book she faces many more. Later on in the book, Mariatu reaches a hospital in Port Loko, which a man recommend to her when she was escaping the rebels after she had her hands cut off. The nurse at the hospital tells her that her injuries are too severe for the hospital, so she informs Mariatu that there is a truck going out to another hospital in Freetown. Mariatu was frightened at first, but when she got on the truck, she spotted her cousins, Mohamed, and Ibrahim, whose hands had also been cut off. In the truck, Mariatu makes a friend, Fatima, who helps Mariatu with her fear of going on the boat. When Mariatu gets to the hospital, she was immediately taken into surgery. when she recovers from the surgery, a doctor comes into the girls’ ward and informs Mariatu that she is pregnant. At first, she is confused, but Abibatu explained to her how babies are made, and instantly remembers that she was raped by her uncle, Salieu. That night, Mariatu tried to kill herself because she was convinced that she had no future, but Abibatu wakes up and calms Mariatu down.

A couple of months go by, and it’s time for Mariatu to give birth. There are some complications; Mariatu has to have a C-section. The baby was delivered, and it was a boy. She decided to name the baby Abdul, named after Fatima’s husband and Mohamed’s uncle. When Mariatu first took a look at the scar on her stomach from the C-section, she felt like vomiting. All she thought about was all the deformities in her body and how she keeps getting more and more. After the nurse removed the stitches from her scar, she went to the washroom down the hall to “…punch myself in the stomach until I bled to death.” (Karama 97). Mariatu gave up and rested her head against the wall and began to think. This is one of many times Mariatu shows she has strength. She wanted to kill herself but, she stopped and gave up even though she was so determined to do it and she didn’t even though she was going through tough times.

Abdul gets sick and needs a blood transfusion, but when he finally gets one, it is too late for him, and he passes away. Mohamed informs Mariatu that a fancy lady wants to see her. The lady is a social worker named, Comfort. Comfort tells Mariatu that a man named Bill, from Canada read about Mariatu in one of the news articles and wants to help her. Bill doesn’t want Mariatu to move to Canada with him; he wants to send money and clothes to her. Four months pass and Mariatu hears from another social worker names, Yabom. She tells Mariatu that a man in England wants her to go there to have prosthetic hands fitted for her. Mariatu agrees to go to England, even though she doesn’t want to because she thinks it’ll be best for her family financially. When Mariatu gets to London, she stays in a flat with Yabom and Mariama, the owner who is also from Sierra Leone. Yabom and Mariama tell Mariatu that Bill wants her to move to Canada. Before Mariatu went to Canada, she returned to Sierra Leone to visit her family. On Mariatu’s trip to Canada, Comfort accompanied her instead of Yabom.

Nineteen hours later they arrive in Toronto, Canada. Mariatu meets Bill, his wife, Shelley, and his son, Richard. Bill takes Mariatu to a party hosted by a couple from Sierra Leone, Kadi and Abou, to make her feel more comfortable in Canada. Early in the next morning, Bill wakes Mariatu and dropped her off at Kadi and Abou’s house and drove off. Bill wanted Mariatu to stay with Kadi and Abou because Comfort was determined to take her back to Sierra Leone. So she stayed with Kadi, Abou, Saud, Haja, and Fanta. The girls encouraged Mariatu to go to school with them in September. Mariatu started taking English lessons; after her six-month visa expired, she decided to stay in Canada to learn English. In only “…10 months after arriving in Canada