FRIENDSHIP: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance

FRIENDSHIP: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance

by Francis Mandewah


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FRIENDSHIP: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance by Francis Mandewah

"Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance" shares the remarkable life journey of an African boy from the region made famous by the movie "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which was nominated for five Academy Awards. That movie brought attention to a rebel war in West Africa in which "blood" diamonds, also known as "conflict" diamonds, were used to finance warlords and their activities.

Two decades before the rebel war Thomas Johnson, a pilot from Minnesota, was employed to fly boxes of gems and alluvial diamonds in Sierra Leone from Yengema to Freetown, where a British Airways jet would fly the gemstones to London. This pilot met and befriended young Francis Mandewah, an impoverished Sierra Leonean boy, and gave him generous support that opened a new life of opportunity, which would eventually take Francis to America.

Along the way Francis had many harrowing experiences, including crossing the Sahara Desert, which almost cost him his life. His challenges continued in Italy, Greece, and finally in America. In the end, Francis became aware that his real voice that has emerged through all his trials and tribulations is one of deep faith, and gratitude for God's miracles and wonders in his life.

Book Excerpts

"On my way home I walked in a haze. I was in shock over the miracle that had just happened in my life. That night as I settled down to sleep on my mat on the floor of my cousin's house, I lay in the dark and prayed, 'Dear God, I can't take any more heartbreak. Please let this be real. What did I do to deserve such a blessing? I promise to do well in school and make You proud. Please don't let me die in my sleep tonight.'"

"Dreams are peculiar things. They come to us both when sleeping and awake. They mix imagination and memory to project vivid images in our minds of what could be. Sometimes these images are delightful, remarkable. Other times they are horrific and unsettling. I have had a reoccurring dream since I was a child. In the dream, my family and I sit down to a grand feast. At the end of the room is a small stage. I walk across the room smiling as my family applauds. I step on stage and into a small steel cage, not much larger than I am, and the door locks behind me. A blindfold appears on my face. I begin to panic, but I hear the sound of my mother's voice, which calms me. Instinctively I feel my way along the bars to the lock. I slip a pin out of my pocket and open the door. My mother and sisters rush to me and shower me with hugs and kisses.

In the dream I have passed a test and my reward is a journey. "Where are you going, my son?" I can hear my mother say. I become nervous about not having an answer for my mother. I go around the room frantically trying to find someone who will tell me my future. No one answers, and then the door to the room opens, flooding the room with white light. I instinctively walk towards the light then through the door. I always awaken with the urge to know where I am going.

I suppose this dream has been the script for my life, because even as I sit, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I always feel a tinge of uncertainty, as if I'm eternally looking for a flight itinerary. I have lived a life filled with the adventure of being ushered onto stage and the turmoil of being blindfolded and locked in a cage. Through my travels, my willingness to walk to and through the door, I discovered within myself a will to not just survive, but to thrive, no matter the circumstance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781942899884
Publisher: Francis Mandewah
Publication date: 03/30/2016
Pages: 220
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

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FRIENDSHIP: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance is an autobiography written by Francis Mandewah. Mandewah was born in 1961, in the small village of Punduru in Sierra Leone. His father died when he was just an infant, leaving his mother to raise him and his older sisters, Bettie and Amie, who often cared for him while their mother was working in the fields. Punduru is located in a tropical rain forest in West Africa, a location rich in plant and animal life, having a robust rainy season and a hot and windy dry season. Mandewah became proficient as a lad in climbing the various fruit or nut-bearing trees, which grew in the family’s small farmstead. Life really began for Mandewah, however, when he started attending classes at the United Methodist Church elementary school. The teacher was strict about tardiness, but taught his students the precepts of Christianity as well as the basics of education. After he completed his schooling there, he went to live with his cousin in Yengema, which was a hub for the diamond mining business that was booming in Sierra Leone. His cousin, while generous in paying Mandewah’s tuition fees, was physically abusive and made living there an ordeal. Faced with the choice between continuing his education and returning to his village, he opted to stay under his cousin’s roof. But one of his daily chores, selling oranges in town, turned out to have unexpected repercussions -- repercussions that would change his life. A blond-haired American pilot bought some oranges and started up a conversation with Mandewah; his name was Tom Johnson, and he offered to paid for his education, and, best of all, wanted to be his friend. Francis Mandewah’s nonfiction autobiography, Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance, is a fascinating account of a life-changing friendship between the author and a man who wanted to make a difference in someone else’s life. I loved reading about the natural beauty of Sierra Leone and was infinitely saddened by Mandewah’s later account of his village’s destruction during the conflicts. The author’s travels across the Sahara Desert and through Europe are compelling reading, on a par with some of the better travelogues I’ve read. I particularly enjoyed reading about his stay in Italy with the Stanganelli family, who owned the Park Hotel in Gioia Tauro, and loved experiencing the sights in Italy and Greece through his eyes. Mandewah’s accounts of his schooling in Massachusetts and New York are inspiring as well, and his stories about his life on the reservation with the Ojibwa Native Americans were absorbing. As a black man, Mandewah has experienced his share of discrimination in this country as he chronicles when he discusses about the time he fell prey to a scam, but his steadfastness, despite the odds, is something the reader gets to realize most clearly in this remarkable and well-written autobiography. Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance is most highly recommended.
jbarr5 More than 1 year ago
Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance by Francis Mandewah Starts out with the author as a young child and his job on the farm in west Africa. Interesting learning about the village and how it operated. After some education he lives with his cousin at the diamond mines. Church is very prominent. Struggles with chores, walking 3 miles to school and still gets punished because the cousins wife didn't like him. Ownership of the diamond mine details are told. Prayers and passages from the Bible help him along to achieve his goals of just getting educated. He meets a man who is like a mentor and he is able to help with finances and other things. Love the travel and how he is able to do the things he needs to do. Love the paying it forward and lifetime of travel and experiences and that it's brought up to the times we live in today. Received from the author and this is my honest review.
Francine1440 More than 1 year ago
Friendship is the touching story of a young Sierra Leonean boy, Francis Mandewah, and the American helicopter pilot he meets who ends up changing his life forever. All Francis wanted was to be able to go to school but because of extreme poverty his mother had to send him to live with a family member so that he could attend an affordable school. Here he was treated like a slave and beaten often. Then one day, due to the mysterious workings of God as Francis believes, he met American Tom Johnson, a helicopter pilot who transported blood diamonds. Tom paid for Francis to move to a new place where he wouldn’t be abused and be able to attend a better school. Eventually, in adulthood, he went to America and built a new life, all with Tom’s help. Throughout the book, Francis’s belief and trust in God help him overcome many obstacles and his spirituality shines through. This is not a “feel-good” book that preaches religion and positive thinking. Mr. Mandewah takes the reader on a journey across the continents as he travels to Sicily, Greece, London and other places, always recounting the good and the bad in a factual and entertaining manner. The writing is not just good, it’s really good. He manages to recount events that had to have been difficult to for him but he doesn’t become hung up on emotion and lose the focus of his story. He provides an equal amount of information about events in his life and the details about the area he is writing about. I found his years in Africa to be fascinating. The way he lived would be very difficult for those of us in the Western world but was normal for him. I know that, for myself, I could never live without all of the amenities I have now or even without Western medicine. Mr. Mandewah never complains. In fact he makes it clear how much he cherished family time even during the hardships. These things are what makes this book such a great read. He keeps the pace moving so it’s a very fast and easy book to finish. The pictures at the back of the book provide a look at where Mr. Mandewah was born and the cover has a charming picture of Tom and him. The author writes that he would “never make a general negative statement based on whiteness” and that has really hit home with me. This formatted well to my ereader and is truly a wonderful read.
MelissaMcLeod8484 More than 1 year ago
Friendship, a true story of adventure, goodwill and endurance follows a young man living in poverty stricken Sierra Leone. The only school in his village is like an elementary school, to get his secondary schooling and continue his education, Francis goes to live with some extended family who ends up beating him and treating him horribly. When money runs out he starts selling oranges to help pay for his room and board. While selling oranges one day he meets an American Pilot, Tom. Tom ends up paying for Francis education and sponsoring him for many years, including helping him get to America and getting a masters degree. Francis endured many hardships and struggles, but he also experienced true friendship and many blessings during his journeys. He is a very passionate man and expresses his true gratitude for all the help and blessings he receives. Reading this book made me take a look at my own life and the things and people I should be more grateful for, and express it to them. I really enjoyed this book for the most part but started losing interest towards the end. Overall it was a pretty good read and more enjoyable because it was actually a true story written by the person who experienced it.