In Sierra Leone, Peace Means a Deal with Evil Mangled Victims of Civil War's Brutality Now Asked to Forgive

By Sullivan, Tim | The Florida Times Union, September 6, 1999 | Go to article overview

In Sierra Leone, Peace Means a Deal with Evil Mangled Victims of Civil War's Brutality Now Asked to Forgive


Sullivan, Tim, The Florida Times Union


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- Moments before the rebels were going to kill Ishmael Dramane, a 9-year-old boy cradling a machine gun saved his life.

"He told his commander that they have a lot of people to kill, and they didn't have to kill an old man," said Dramane, who at 42 is already long past middle age in this West African nation ravaged by poverty and war.

The rebels argued about what they should do. Then they voted. Three years later, Dramane, an itinerant miner and truck driver, still struggles to find the words to describe what they then did to him that day in a jungle village in eastern Sierra Leone.

Instead, he kneels in the dirt of the Freetown camp for war victims where he now lives. He shows how the rebels tied his wrists behind his back and how he obediently placed his hands on a small bench. He knew what was coming. They'd told him what they were going to do.

Then, he says, one picked up a machete and chopped off both his hands.

Laughing, the group left him in the dirt, blood pouring from his forearms as he screamed in agony. It took him 12 hours to reach a hospital.

"How can I live with these people?" Dramane demands angrily, waving his stumps in a visitor's face. "I lost everything."

Thousands of people lost everything in Sierra Leone's civil war, systematically butchered by a rebel movement with a fascination for amputation and an undefined political agenda.

In a war almost completely ignored by the international community, people as young as 3 and 4 years old lost their fingers, their hands, their lips, their ears. All became living examples of the power and the sheer brutality of the rebels, signs of what people who did not support them could expect. Thousands of people were mutilated, and tens of thousands more lost their lives or their homes.

But the government of Sierra Leone says it's now time to forgive.

Suddenly, rebel leaders dismissed as war criminals just months ago are about to join the government. They stay in nice hotels, get chauffeured around this ramshackle capital city and give TV interviews. They have audiences with powerful politicians, diplomats and aid groups, and they talk endlessly about their commitment to peace.

In early July, the rebel Revolutionary United Front signed a shaky accord ending eight years of civil war, trading peace for a role in a power-sharing government.

It's an agreement that few people in Sierra Leone are comfortable with -- and few believe will bring long-lasting peace.

But, most people acknowledge, there was nothing else the government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah could do. Broke, horribly bloodied, outgunned and dependent on foreign aid, Sierra Leone knew it had to find peace somehow. In January, a rebel offensive leveled entire blocks of Freetown and left thousands dead, pushing the government closer to a deal.

"If Kabbah didn't accept this peace, the rebels would continue to kill people, to amputate people," Dramane said. "Kabbah had to accept."

He admits this grudgingly. Dramane, who like most rebel victims was randomly targeted -- led into a trap by a rebel boy -- has nothing good to say about the peace deal.

A proud man with an easy laugh and a smoker's gravely voice, he once roamed Sierra Leone dreaming of mining riches, of living an easy life.

"I'm a traveler," he says. "I can't stay long in one place."

Now, though, he no longer travels. He can't light his own cigarettes or eat without help. His family has disintegrated, his wife and four children spread among various homes and refugee camps in Freetown and neighboring Guinea.

The civil war destroyed Sierra Leone. Kabbah's government is now little more than an administrative shell. Its bills are paid by international donors, and its security is handled by soldiers from a Nigerian-led regional intervention force. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In Sierra Leone, Peace Means a Deal with Evil Mangled Victims of Civil War's Brutality Now Asked to Forgive
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.