A Long Way Gone: Sierra Leone Background
Sierra Leone Profile s Full Name: Republic of Sierra Leone s Population: 6. 7 million (2017) s Capital: Freetown s Major Languages: English, Krio, and various African languages. s Major Religions: Islam and Christianity s Monetary Unit: Leone s Major Exports: Diamonds, Rutile, Cocoa, Coffee, and Fish
History of Sierra Leone: Name means “Lion Mountains” s 1462: Portuguese explorers arrive in Sierra Leone, which was also already occupied by several African tribes that had migrated to the area. s 1500 s-1700 s: Traders stopped in Sierra Leone to exchange cloth and metal goods for ivory, timber, and slaves. *Abolitionists later help slaves return to Africa in what is now the “Province of Freedom” or Freetown in Sierra Leone. They came to be called Krio.
History of Sierra Leone 1808: Sierra Leone became a British crown colony s 1839: Slaves aboard the Amistad revolt to secure their freedom. Their leader is Sengbe Pieh (Joseph Cinque), a young Mende from Sierra Leone. s 1951: A constitution is enacted by the British to begin the process of decolonization (or when a colony becomes self-governing) s April 27, 1961: Sierra Leone becomes independent with Sir Milton Margai as its first prime minister. Sir Milton Margai Sengbe Pieh (Joseph Cinque)
History of Sierra Leone s 1971: Sierra Leone was declared a republic, and Siaka Stevens became executive president. s 1978: Sierra Leone became a oneparty state with the All People’s Congress as the sole legal party. s 1985: Stevens retired and appointed Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh the next president. Momoh’s APC rule was marked by increased abuse of power. Siaka Stevens
Civil War in Sierra Leone s March 1991: The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) began attacking villages in eastern Sierra Leone. *Goal: To rid the country of the APC government * Rebel leader: Foday Sankoh s April 1992: The National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) was established, but it proved to be as ineffective as the APC at repelling the RUF. s 1995: The RUF held much of the countryside in their control.
Civil War in Sierra Leone s 1996 -2000: Sierra Leone tries various campaigns to stop the RUF, including signing a peace deal in 1996 that unraveled in 1997. s 1999: The United Nations finally became involved in the effort to disarm the rebels s 2001: A second peace agreement was signed that allowed disarmament to begin as the government regained authority in rebel-held areas. s January 2002: President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (elected in 1996) declared the civil war officially over.
Recovery in Sierra Leone s 2002: British troops left Sierra Leone and President Kabbah is reelected. Summer 2002: A Sierra Leone Special Court begins holding a series of war crimes trials that lasted until 2006. s 2003: Rebel leader Foday Sankoh died. s Many child soldiers, like Ishmael Beah, also had to begin a personal healing process to restore their sense of humanity and to forgive themselves.
Ishmael Beah s At 15, UNICEF removed Beah from fighting and helped him begin rehabilitating. s In 1998 he moved to the U. S. and finished high school. He graduated from Oberlin College in 2004. s He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and speaks on behalf of children affected by war. s He began the Ishmael Beah Foundation to help former child soldiers.
The Diamond Trade in Sierra Leone s During the civil war in Sierra Leone, people who purchased diamonds in the West unknowingly funded the mission of Foday Sankoh and the RUF s These diamonds came to be known as “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds” s These diamonds were specifically mined in war zones of Africa to fund the invading army’s efforts. s Liberia would trade weapons and training to Sierra Leone in exchange for their diamonds.
Kimberley Process Certification Scheme s Created in 2002 to control the flow blood diamonds. s A Kimberley Certification must be presented by a gems owner before it can leave the country. s This forces the government to keep track of the diamonds they are importing and exporting and their value.
Blood Diamonds in the U. S. s Executive Order 13194 ( Jan 2001) and 13213 (May 2001) specifically ban the importation of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone and Liberia. s Clean Diamond Trade Act (2003): U. S. recognizes that as a major consumer of diamonds, it has a responsibility to severe its ties to any diamond trade that funds war and conflict. s This was crucial to the success of the KPCS.