Sierra leone

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Sierra leone

  1. 1. Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone tells of the civil war in Sierra Leone
  2. 2. What do children understand about war? <ul><li>Ishmael Beah was 10 years old when he started seeing refugees in his village. </li></ul><ul><li>He was 12 years old when he was separated from his family and his life torn apart from the war. </li></ul><ul><li>While he gives some background to the conflict, his main focus is on a child trying to survive a brutal reality. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Some Background on Sierra Leone <ul><li>1462: Portuguese explorers name the mountains outside Freetown Serra Lyoa (Lion Mountain) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Sierra Leone became haven for freed slaves <ul><li>1780’s: Sierra Leone becomes a British colony called Freetown after the freed slaves from all over Africa who were sent there. They develop a shared language called Krio. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why does A + B = Trouble? <ul><li>A: Diamond </li></ul><ul><li>B: Sierra Leone </li></ul>SOURCE: “The Terror of Sierra Leone” by Sebastian Junger
  6. 6. Diamonds Discovered in 1930 <ul><li>According to legend, British told the locals that the stones were electric and dangerous to touch. Their advice was to leave them alone until a white man could get there. </li></ul>
  7. 7. British sell mining rights <ul><li>In 1937 the British colonial government sold De Beers (a mining company) exclusive mining rights to the whole country for 99 years. </li></ul>
  8. 8. But diamonds are little tiny things! <ul><li>And soon people just smuggled them out of the country. </li></ul><ul><li>Tips on how to hide a diamond: </li></ul><ul><li>Heat them and drop them into tins of lard </li></ul><ul><li>Sew them into hems of skirts. </li></ul><ul><li>Encase them in wax and take as a suppository. </li></ul><ul><li>Swallow them; hide under tongue; burrow into navel; slip into an open wound that is allowed to heal. </li></ul>
  9. 9. 1961: Freedom! <ul><li>Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visiting Sierra Leone in 1961. </li></ul><ul><li>Like many other African nations, Sierra Leone overthrows the British colonial rule in 1960s and enjoys a few years as a functioning democracy. </li></ul>
  10. 10. 1967 Election of Siaka Stevens: Hello Repression; Goodbye Democracy
  11. 11. Siaka Stevens remains in control for 18 years <ul><li>Sierra Leone is increasingly crippled by high-level corruption. The nation has considerable wealth in the form of diamonds which are easy to misappropriate. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Another guy: Worse than the First <ul><li>In 1985 Stevens retires and nominates the head of the army, Joseph Momoh, as his successor. </li></ul><ul><li>Corruption and economic decay continue. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Response to Government Corruption: The R.U.F. <ul><li>A guerilla army, the Revolutionary United Front (R.U.F.) was formed quietly and brutally when a hundred or so lightly armed guerillas crossed into Sierra Leone from Liberia in 1991. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Unfortunately… <ul><li>The R.U.F. was just as bad – if not worse – than the corrupt government. </li></ul><ul><li>The force contained many mercenaries and it quickly became an excuse to loot and kill. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Foday Saybana Sankoh <ul><li>Sankoh was the leader of the rebels. His trademark was amputations, mostly of hands, as a way to spread terror. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Sankoh – rebel leader – and one of his child victims
  17. 17. RUF became notorious for brutal practices <ul><li>In addition to amputations, the RUF also practiced mass rapes. </li></ul><ul><li>Sankoh personally ordered many operations, including one called &quot;Operation Pay Yourself&quot; that encouraged troops to loot anything they could find. </li></ul>
  18. 18. 1991 to 1999: Coups, counter-Coups, and many changes in government <ul><li>There are many atrocities committed on both sides. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Jan. 1999: RUF again attempts to overthrow the government <ul><li>Teen age soldiers, out of their minds on drugs, rounded up entire neighborhoods and machine-gunned them or burned them alive in their houses. </li></ul><ul><li>They killed people who refused to give them money, or people who didn’t give enough money, or anyone who looked at them wrong. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Amputation Squads <ul><li>Realizing they were losing the battle, the R.U.F. started rounding up people. </li></ul><ul><li>Amputation squads were made up of teenagers and children, many of whom wore bandages where incisions had been made to pack cocaine under their skin. </li></ul><ul><li>They chose victims at random and worked with rusty machetes and axes. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Lome Peace Accord <ul><li>The traumatized civilian population was willing to do anything to end the war, and brought the R.U.F. into the government. </li></ul>
  22. 22. 2002: Civil War finally ends <ul><li>With the help of British troops, the civil war is finally brought to an end. </li></ul><ul><li>A Truth and Reconciliation Commission provides a forum for both victims and perpetrators to tell their story. </li></ul><ul><li>Sankoh dies of a stroke before he is brought to justice. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) <ul><li>Findings of the TRC: </li></ul><ul><li>The civil war happened due to decades of corrupt rule by the political elite. </li></ul><ul><li>Recommended increasing the transparency of the mining industry </li></ul><ul><li>Establishing a reparations fund for war victims. </li></ul><ul><li>After a long delay, establishment of a reparations fund for war victims was established. </li></ul>
  24. 24. So what did all that have to do with ? <ul><li>The movie Blood Diamond tells the story. </li></ul>
  25. 25. In Blood Diamond … <ul><li>A fisherman is captured by the RUF and forced to work in the diamond fields. His son becomes a child soldier and hardened killer. The RUF use the diamonds to fund their war effort, often trading them directly for arms. </li></ul>
  26. 26. The film’s fiction has an important fact: <ul><li>Easy to smuggle and very valuable, diamonds are at the heart of the Sierra Leone civil war. </li></ul><ul><li>The rebels sold diamonds to buy arms. </li></ul><ul><li>They used these weapons to control the diamond-producing areas. </li></ul><ul><li>The misery that Ishmael and so many others endured can be traced to a shiny little jewel. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Today in Sierra Leone <ul><li>Highest life expectancies </li></ul><ul><li>Japan: 83 </li></ul><ul><li>2. Australia: 82 </li></ul><ul><li>3. Iceland: 82 </li></ul><ul><li>4. Italy: 82 </li></ul><ul><li>5. San Marino: 82 </li></ul><ul><li>(United States: 78) </li></ul><ul><li>Lowest life expectancies </li></ul><ul><li>Sierra Leone: 41 </li></ul><ul><li>Afghanistan: 42 </li></ul><ul><li>Zimbabwe: 45 </li></ul><ul><li>Lesotho: 45 </li></ul><ul><li>Zambia: 46 </li></ul>
  28. 28. Sixth Poorest Nation <ul><li>Rank Country Population below poverty line (%) </li></ul><ul><li>1 Zambia 86 </li></ul><ul><li>2 Chad 80 </li></ul><ul><li>3 Haiti 80 </li></ul><ul><li>4 Liberia 80 </li></ul><ul><li>5 Gaza Strip 80 </li></ul><ul><li>6 Sierra Leone 70.2 </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>&quot;In the sky there are always answers and explanations for everything: every pain, every suffering, joy and confusion.&quot; --Ishmael Beah </li></ul>

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