A Reflection on the 22nd Anniversary of the End of Civil War

By Abdul Madieu Savage, London, UK. January 18, 2024
January 18, 2002, marked the end of a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, a conflict that left deep scars on the nation's soul and landscape. This day, 22 years later, serves as a poignant reminder of a journey towards healing and reconstruction—a journey that, tragically, remains unfinished. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone (TRC), established in the war's aftermath, was a beacon of hope. It promised to lead the country away from the gloom of its violent past and towards a future filled with justice, peace, and prosperity. Sadly, this promise remains unfulfilled.

The TRC's recommendations were a roadmap for a new Sierra Leone, one where the mistakes of the past would not be repeated. It was a call to address the root causes of the conflict, to foster national unity, and to ensure that the voices of the victims would not be silenced. However, two decades later, the political elite in Sierra Leone have largely ignored these recommendations. The spirit of the TRC has been betrayed, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of those who dreamed of a different future.

The neglect of the TRC's findings is not just a failure of policy but a moral failing of the highest order. It is a betrayal of the millions whose lives the conflict irrevocably altered as well as the thousands who lost their lives. The youth of Sierra Leone, who should have been the beneficiaries of a new era of peace and development, continue to grapple with the legacy of a war they did not choose. The country's rich natural resources, rather than being a boon for development and prosperity for all, remain mired in corruption and mismanagement.

As we reflect on this sombre anniversary, it is imperative to remember that the path to true peace and reconciliation is not through silence or inaction. The recommendations of the TRC must not be left to gather dust in the annals of history. They must be implemented with urgency and sincerity. The international community, which once rallied to end the bloodshed, must recommit itself to supporting Sierra Leone on this path. This support should not merely be in the form of aid but should also include pressure on the political elite to uphold their commitments to the TRC.

To the people of Sierra Leone, especially the youth, the call to action is clear. The future of your country lies in your hands. You must hold your leaders accountable, demand transparency, and actively participate in the political process. Your voices are powerful; do not let them be silenced. Remember, change often comes not from the actions of a few but from the collective will of many.

On this anniversary, we must not only mourn what has been lost but also renew our commitment to what can be achieved. The potential of Sierra Leone has not diminished; it merely lies dormant, waiting for the right moment to flourish. Let this moment be now. Let this be the time when Sierra Leone rises from the ashes of its past and moves toward a future that is fair, peaceful, and prosperous for all under the guidance of the TRC.

In closing, the story of Sierra Leone is not one of inevitable despair but of potential and hope. It is a call to action, a reminder that the hard work of building a nation does not end with the silencing of guns. It continues every day in the hearts and actions of its people. The time to act is now. The world is watching, and history will remember the choices made today. Let us choose a path of healing, unity, and progress. Let us choose a better Sierra Leone.
(Renewal News Network and AI collaboration.)

Abdul Madieu Savage