Sierra Leone Civil War
Throughout my reading of The Memory of Love, I found myself (as a history buff) wanting to know more about the history of Sierra Leone. In particular, I wanted to better understand the civil war that is referenced throughout the novel. My research led me to the following information (there are also some pictures attached)…
The Sierra Leone civil war lasted for 10 years, 9 months, 3 weeks and 5 days (23 March 1991 – 18 January 2002) and left roughly 50,000 people dead. It began when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) attempted to overthrow the government in power at the time. The RUF soon began to take control of large areas of land throughout the country. During this time over two million men, women, and children were relocated as the RUF attacked and pillaged villages, raping and murdering as they went. Young men, many still children, were recruited as RUF soldiers. This created even more internal conflicts, which as we mentioned in class were not ethnically or religiously based but more so everyone feared everyone. The government did not effectively respond until two years later when they pushed the rebels back to the Liberian border, but the RUF quickly recovered. In 1996 the country elected a civilian government and the RUF signed peace accords, however before the accords could be implemented, violence began again.
In 1997 the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) was established after a coup d’état and became the country’s new government. The RUF and the AFRC joined forces, captured the capital of Freetown and thus a spell of crime, rape, and murder swept the city. This is the coup alluded to on page 184 of The Memory of Love. From 1999 to 2002 there were a series of interventions and peace accords, but many were ineffective due to weak RUF compliance. It wasn’t until the United Kingdom supported the weak government of President Kabbah, that the RUF was defeated, Freetown was no longer occupied, and Kabbah declared the long-lasting and devastating civil war over.