By Victoria Saffa
As part of its activity plan to commemorate March 23, a day when the first shot was fired at Bomaru, Kailahun District in 1991 that signaled the start of the rebel war in the country, peacemakers of the Luawa Islamic Secondary School in Kailahun town visited the then notorious slaughter house in the township.
The site, which is now an empty lot, was the place where hundreds of civilians captured in the township were slaughtered.
Explaining to the peacemakers during the visit, Vandi Jusu, a peace coordinator at the school, told the pupils how hundreds of innocent people were killed at that site by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels during the war. He said there were five rooms in the house and one of the dangerous rooms was named ‘G5’. He explained that the G5 room was reserved as a coop where a notorious Liberian rebel called ‘Tagbor’ used fish out human beings to be slaughtered and eaten.
The peacemakers took a tour of the place and asked many questions since most of them were born either during or after the war.
During the school bonfire on March 24, a Fambul Tok initiative, Jusu said the essence of the exercise was to reflect on what happened in the past, especially during the war years. He said most of the pupils in the club did not witness the war since they were not born at the time.
The peace coordinator said Fambul Tok has included schools in their programs so that they could work towards peace in the school environment and communities. He said children play vital roles in peace building as they can influence their peers in one way or the other. He urged the pupils to be ambassadors of peace for the development of Sierra Leone.
One of the victims of the war, Idriss K. Lamin, said he stays very close to the slaughter house in Kailahun town, and narrated his ordeals during the war. He explained to the gathering how he was captured by rebels and beaten up mercilessly. He said he escaped, disguising as an old man just to save his life, adding that many people were killed during an attack at Njala Komboya in the Bo District.
He admonished pupils not to involve in violent activities as that would slow down development in their area.
Augustine Kandeh, who became a refugee on March 28, 1991, explained how Sierra Leoneans were killed by Guinean forces as they were termed as rebels. He said in order to survive, he had to form a committee to bury dead people. He too cautioned the pupils to pay attention to their school work, noting that war does not help any nation.
At the end of the bonfire, the peacemakers promised to detest activities that will not bring progress to their communities, pointing out that they had learnt a lot from people’s terrible experiences of the war.
They also urged the government to declare March 23 of every year as a day of national reflection, not a public holiday.