When it comes to storytelling, few individuals possess the raw authenticity and profound insights that Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist Ishmael Beah brings to the table. On Monday, August 13, at Kigali Genocide Memorial, an event titled The Power of Storytelling took place, offering an intimate and engaging dialogue with Beah. ALSO READ: Rwandan man who's read 2000 books on the power of reading Organized by Our Past Initiative, the gathering drew avid book lovers, aspiring writers, and individuals eager to glean wisdom from Beah's remarkable journey. A journey of redemption and hope Ishmael Beah's presence in Rwanda was prompted by his involvement as a speaker for the Giants of Africa festival, where he'll be motivating African youth to become catalysts for change and future leaders. ALSO READ: Giants of Africa brings diversity and energy to Rwanda Beah, renowned for his seminal work A Long Way Gone, is also an author of two novels, Little Family and Radiance of Tomorrow. His memoir, A Long Way Gone, delves into the harrowing narrative of a young boy caught amidst the ravages of war in Sierra Leone. At the age of twelve, Beah fled from rebel attacks, embarking on a journey that led him into the heart of conflict, forcing him to commit unspeakable acts in order to survive. Eventually, he was rescued from the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, where he grappled with regaining his humanity. The memoir is a tale of redemption, charting his path back to hope and transformation. Empowering youth through shared experiences The event at Kigali Genocide Memorial was an interactive exchange of questions, experiences, and insights. Attendees had the opportunity to explore Beah's career as an author and gain insight into his personal journey of surviving war. Beah's affinity for connecting with young minds was evident as he shared his story, encouraging those present to embrace their potential and forge ahead against all odds. In an interview with The New Times, he expressed his admiration for the driven Rwandan youth, acknowledging their ambition to make a positive impact. Rwanda as a country has a wealth of determined young individuals already paving their paths. It's like speaking to people who are already on an inspired journey, striving to make a lasting impact. Personally, I relish engaging with young minds because I was once someone who doubted my potential for significant accomplishments. Hearing from someone who hails from this very continent, showcasing the possibilities, is truly invigorating. This conversation was nothing short of wonderful – brimming with insightful questions and mutual learning, Beah said. Taking ownership of African narratives Reflecting on the state of storytelling in Africa, Beah emphasized the importance of reclaiming ownership of narratives. There has been a noticeable shift, an empowerment movement reclaiming our narratives. This is something I've consistently championed. It's vital that we shape our own stories, anchored in our unique contexts. In the past, we allowed outsiders to depict our emotions, dreams, and experiences. True prosperity comes when we relinquish the reins of our narratives from external hands. It's a shift I'm witnessing – a change that embraces our stories, culture, strengths, and wisdom. This transformation is crucial, and it's happening, he said. A pledge of support and inspiration Towards the end of the session, Beah made a commitment to support fellow writers in the room. He vowed to read their works and help connect them with potential agents and publishers. This gesture underscored his genuine desire to foster a thriving literary community. Additionally, on Tuesday, August 15, Ishmael Beah is set to take part in 'The Dream Big Leadership Educational and Leadership Session for Youth Campers,' alongside Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Romeo Dallaire. This event, a segment of the Giants of Africa festival, aims to unite young campers and provide them with a platform to glean wisdom from prominent figures in diverse domains such as sports, entertainment, politics, and business.