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Peace returns to Gbanti Kamaranka chiefdom

Makulon section in the Gbanti Kamaranka chiefdom, Bombali district, Northern Sierra Leone has 10 villages. Two of the villages – Makulon and Gbintimaria – according to their chieftaincy arrangements, used to alternate power peacefully.

Almost 12 years after the demise of the installed section chief, there was conflict between the two villages as to which village should provide leadership. This resulted to total division among families and individuals to the point that some villagers in the section deliberately refused to visit Makulon and Gbintimaria for fear of being intimidated or harassed.

According to a resident of Gbintimaria, Mohamed Kamara, he had earlier stopped going to church service at Makulon for fear of being molested, and now walks over five miles to attend service every Sunday. The situation worsened when finally a new section chief was crowned in Gbintimaria.

Prior to the usual Fambul Tok bonfire ceremony in the section, it was evident that there was conflict and if not resolved on time, it would be very difficult for the organisation to operate successfully in that part of the country.

During a sensitization programme organised by Fambul Tok, staff of the organisation had to spend a night in Gbintimaria after a heavy day’s work. The following day, not aware of the problem in that section, the staff had to travel to Makulon but they received a cold reception. This was because the Makulon people had thought that Fambul Tok had already chosen Gbintimaria for their reconciliation ceremonies, so they were not prepared to participate!

However, after spending several hours explaining to Makulon villagers what Fambul Tok stands for, re-emphasising its core values, one of which is non-political and non-partisan, the people embraced the organisation in the interest of peace and reconciliation.

Many questions were posed to staff of the organisation as to how Makulon and Gbintimaria could come together to make peace. At the end of the meeting, the people agreed to let sleeping dogs lie and forge ahead with peace.

To demonstrate that they wanted peace and unity after a decade, a meeting was convened where elders and the youth unanimously agreed to host the reconciliation ceremonies in Makulon. It was also agreed that a resident of Makulon should play a lead role in the process.

During the bonfire, other villages joined Makulon and Gbintimaria to celebrate peace and unity through dancing and dining together. The people forgave each other.

The following morning, traditional ceremonies were held and prayers offered for peace and unity in the entire section.