In an all-new episode of the Make Sierra Leone Famous Podcast: “Sierra Leone’s Civil War: A Center For Memory To Honor Our Trauma”, host Vickie Remoe is in conversation with Joseph Ben-Kaifala, historian and founder of the Sierra Leone Center for Memory & Reparations.
Remoe and Kaifala reflect on their memories of the war, the lack of reverence, lessons from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, and Kaifala’s journey as he documents Sierra Leone’s war history both the physical spaces where atrocities occurred and the narrative.
Kaifala is currently traveling across Sierra Leone marking mass graves to ensure that we remember our difficult past. His work is made possible by a grant from the Africa Transitional Justice Legacy Fund.
Below are 5 lessons learned from the conversation
- The March 23, 1991, invasion was not Foday Sankoh’s first attack, it was an attack by an official of the National Patriotic Fronts of Liberia (NPFL) whose vehicle was seized by a Sierra Leonean military leader.
- Prior to the civil conflict, Charles Taylor, ex-president of Liberia, promised to make Sierra Leone taste the bitterness of war, because of the country’s participation in the ECOMOG forces that conducted a mission in Liberia.
- People remember stories of the war that may not have happened to them but that they heard. There is a collective memory made of stories that people may not have witnessed but that have been retold over and over again.
- The first civil defense forces to rise in Sierra Leone were formed in the North with Bai Bureh and the Hut Tax Revolt.
- Rape and gender-based violence culture that rose during the war continues to affect Sierra Leone today.