Kailahun calls on Govt. to declare March 23rd National Day for Reflection

Paramount Chief of Upper Bambara chiefdom, Kailahun district Cyril Foray Gondor II has on behalf of the people of the chiefdom and Bomaru Town called on the government of Sierra Leone to declare March 23rd,the date the war started in Sierra Leone,a national day for reflection.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday at Forum of Conscience in Freetown, P.C Gondor II said: “we need to reflect on what went wrongs and why did we, Sierra Leoneans did go so low to kill one another. As a family, we need to sit together and discuss that we shall never return to those dark and ugly days of war.”

He said they welcome Fambul Tok community healing initiative, which facilitates dialogue among offenders, victims and members of the community in the spirit of national healing and reconciliation.

Chief Gondor disclosed that on behalf of Fambul Tok District Executive, Kailahun and especially Bomaru town and in collaboration with Forum of Conscience and Catalyst for Peace, they are going to observe the first anniversary of Fambul Tok reconciliation project, which coincides with the national day of reflection.

He went on to state that the day would be observed with series of activities ranging from feasting, traditional dances, cultural performances to football matches.

He extended invitation to the government of Sierra Leone. Members of Parliament, the Judiciary, members of the Diplomatic community, local and international NGOs, religious and traditional leaders to Bomaru and join them in observing the occasion.

“As a nation, we need to collectively reflect on the past and say Never Never Never again shall we use guns and machetes to settle our disputes.”

He said they welcome the verdict of the Revolutionary United Front members at the Special Court and reiterated that the verdict brings an end to the retributive justice process.”Now the country needs to focus on restorative justice. It can be achieved through community reconciliation and the implementation of the TRC recommendations with emphasize reparation programs for war victims” he concluded.

Fambul Tok trains focal persons in Kono

participants at the Fambul Tok training in Kono District, Eastern Sierra Leone

participants at the Fambul Tok training in Kono District, Eastern Sierra Leone

As Fambul Tok community reconciliation project continues to gain momentum in Sierra Leone, it continues to expand its activities in the country.

Kono district, one of the districts that was badly hit during the rebel war has recently embraced Fambul Tok because of its use of traditional methods in reconciling communities.

The project was launched in Kono last December with re-consultation to sound the opinion of people in all the 14 chiefdoms in Kono as to whether they were ready to reconcile. The session gave an opportunity to them to speak out and at the end of it all, they agreed to reconcile.

Last week, representatives of all 14 chiefdoms gathered in Tombodu, Kamaa Chiefdom for two-day training in various topics relating to reconciliation process. The training was facilitated by Robert Roche of Catalyst for Peace, Francis Onyekwue, a consultant, and Momodu Kamara of the Training unit of Fambul Tok project. Some of the topics dealt with included trauma healing, resilience, communication and listening skills.

In his remarks, Executive Director of Forum of Conscience and also Programme Director of the project, John Caulker said Fambul Tok belongs to communities. He urged them to own the process.

“Fambul Tok is a train that moves. It starts slowly but if one vital thing is missing it cannot go further,” Caulker stressed, adding, “all of us should put hands on deck so that the reconciliation process will flourish in Sierra Leone.” The Director went on to state that reconciliation is not an event but a continuous process.

Meanwhile a series of trainings for reconciliation committees and outreach members in all sections in the 14 districts will be conducted before the end of February.

A district executive of Fambul Tok was formed so that they would spearhead the activities of Fambul Tok in their district and inform their various chiefdoms about the process. The executive is to be chaired by Chiefdom Speaker, Aiah Raymond Komba of Kamaa Chiefdom.

Fambul Tok attracts Liberians and Guineans…

“We are here to observe Fambul Tok so that when we return to our communities in Liberia, we will urge our leaders to embark on such program in the interest of peace and reconciliation,” says Amos Moka, a Liberian who walked from Foya County (8-10 miles away), to witness the Football for Reconciliation gala at Kpeingbakordu over the weekend.

According to Moka and other observers, they have heard a lot about Fambul Tok through the radio and were waiting for an opportunity to witness a Fambul Tok event. Moka uttered it took them hours to walk and cross over to Sierra Leone, but it was worth the hassle.” In addition, Moka revealed, “Liberians are looking for unique ways to reconcile with one another…we are neighbors that almost went through the same experience, but we don’t have such opportunity to reconcile.”

An observer Ali Bockari, from Guinea expressed “he came purposely to witness how the reconciliation gala would be played and if the method could be applied in Guinea.”  As soon as he returns to Guinea, he will inform local authorities on the activities. “We are looking for such programs because most people want to reconcile, but do not know how to begin the process” confessed Bockari.

Another Guinean, Amadu Kamara, believed “if the four countries belonging to the Mano River Union are able to set up programs that bring people together then peace and unity will surely reign in the sub region.”

— Solomon Yarjoh (Fambul Tok Communication Officer)