Leadership power-sharing and the craving for absolute power acquisition have been often the case of the horrific holocaust in various countries in the world. News of coup de tat failed coup de’ tarts and rebels are like daily occurrences worldwide (John L. Hirsch 2002 pp 23). However, these occurrences lead to major sufferings to innocent civilians who are caught in the crossfire between any two fighting groups.
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Advancement in technology, civilization, and production of sophisticated arms and their distribution has lead to the free flow of arms into the wrong hands. This especially has affected the African continent and led to increased break out of civil wars. Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Sudan just to mention but a few, are some of the African countries which have witnessed in-depth and devastating civil war.
In Sierra Leone’s causes of civil war dates back to the years before independence. After independence, practical history was characterized by overnight military coups and constant government wars. The root of civil wars can to some extend is attributed to tribal lines that exist between the Mende and the West Atlantic groups (Lansana Gberie 2005 p.185). Armed struggles between the two groups would emerge after a slight provocation. Moreover, wars would break out after disputes that range from policy disagreement to an outright challenge for the then-existing central government.
Eventually, the civil war in Sierra Leone turned to be an Ethnic struggle for the control of the countries Diamond and hence control of the economic and political powers (John L. Hirsch 2002 pp26). These factors opened up Sierra Leone as the Arena for foreign intervention. The above-mentioned reasons among others eventually culminated into the horrific tragedy witnessed worldwide in the last decade.
March 1991 would mark the month of the beginning of a decade of death and suffering of Sierra Leone’s civilians. On this month fighters compromising Sierra Leonean residents, Liberians loyal to the then-president Charles Taylor, and some mercenaries from neighboring Burkina Faso invaded the Eastern part of Sierra Leon at Bomaru and Kajahan district. Another group opposed this invasion and rebelled. They crossed the Mano river bridge and launched a counterattack on Pujehan district. (Adebajo, Adekeyo 2002 pp23). This was the beginning of the civil war. Neither of the two groups fighting each other had humanity in their attacks. It was seldom for soldiers from either side to distinguish between soldiers and civilians. They behaved as if they had been possessed by the devil.
One survival interviewed by CNN news said that soldiers tortured houses, raped women, and conscripted children into the army. Anyone who resisted met instant death. One of the photos in the UN peacekeeping record journal shows an 11 old year boy who was tortured because he failed to meet the materials for one of the gorilla’s movements soldiers. They dropped burning nylon paper all over him with multiple minute but deep wounds. In the following few decades, the situation even worsened with the collapse of the already decaying economy, social and political infrastructure. Soldiers became desperate and lost patience easily. They could shoot anyone with the slightest provocation and raided villages for food, clothing, women, and child soldier (Lansana Gberie 2005 p.220).
Furthermore, cases of inhuman treatments like rapping and killing of women increased. By the end of the war after ten decades, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians had been killed. Believing that this is a democratic era and that the 21st century calls for a multipart system of politics, it can be argued that Charles Taylor somehow contributed to the beginning of the civil war in Sierra Leone. His refusal to recognize other political parties and repeated rigging of national parliamentary and presidential elections lead to people arming themselves to fight against what they termed as neo-colonialism. Moreover, President Charles Taylor’s ruthless treatment against any opposition to his regime sparked off a war at people who resisted this inhuman treatment (John L. Hirsch 2002 pp.66).
On the contrary, no amount of aggression can justify the rate of crimes witnessed in Sierra Leone. The innocent killing of the civilians, conscripting of children into soldiers, and internal displacement caused are uncountable (Adebajo, Adekeyo 2002 pp 40). The end result of it all was more disastrous than the benefits because more people were affected negatively. Both the social, political, and economic spheres of the country collapsed causing intensified suffering to the Sierra Leone citizens. The World Bank and IMF had to step in to salvage the situation of the country.
In addition, the war led to the massive misuse of Sierra Leone’s diamonds. Most returns made from the export of the diamond were channeled towards the purchase of arms instead of economic development. This turned Sierra Leone into a depositing site for guns and a vibrant market for arm products. The result is that lethal weapons fell into the hands of the wrong people leading to massive deaths.
Adebajo,Adekeyo (2002). Building peace in West Africa; Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea Bissau. Boulder USA. Lynne Reinner Publishers. Pages 23 – 57.
John L. Hirsch (2002). Sierra Leone: Diamonds and the struggle for Democracy. Lynne Reinners. Pages 43-67.
Lansana Gberie (2005). A dirty war in west Africa: The RUF and the destruction of Siera Leone. Indiana University Press. Pages 185 – 220.