The Sierra Leone Web


Delivered on SLBS, 18 June 1997

Fellow Countrymen,

For the past six years or so, we have been living in an environment of hatred and divisiveness. We looked at our brothers and killed them in cold blood, we removed our sisters from their hiding places to undo their feminity, we slaughtered our mothers and butchered our fathers. It was really a gruesome experience which has left a terrible landmark in our history. But the atrocities that occured must not be taken in the context of a personal vendetta. They were the result of the rottenness of a system which could not be uprooted except by brutal means. We did not take to the bush because we wanted to be barbarians, not because we wanted to be inhuman, but because we wanted to state our humanhood to a society so deep that had the RUF not emerged, we wonder if we would not have still been under the yoke of that wretched regime.

In the process of cleaning the system, however, we have wronged the great majority of our countrymen. We have sinned both in the sight of our Sierra Leonean brothers and sisters, for all the terror and the mayhem we unleashed on you in our bid to make Sierra Leone a country that all Sierra Leoneans would be proud of.

Today, we have rejoined you. We have come back as prodigal sons, brothers and sisters, to meet our families in our different homes, so that we all can sit in our houses in peace and tell tales to our young ones of how Sierra Leone was once cleansed of the mess that unpatriotic politicians brought to her in yonder years. Let the farmers take their tools and go to their farms in peace, let the young women go to the stream and swim in peace, let them sing to their loved ones under the moonshine in peace, let Sierra Leoneans walk in peace, let us talk in peace, let us travel in peace, and just let us live in peace. We have finally discovered the right atmosphere for a peaceful co-existence.

We must accomodate each other if we want to live in peace, and that is the miracle that has occurred in Sierra Leone throught the coming of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). We have accepted to join forces with this government because it is the first to demonstrate a genuine feeling of brotherhood for us - it is the government that has seen us as Sierra Leoneans who came together to stand for a cause for the general good. We want to assure everybody that we are sincerely and genuinely committed to the maintenance and sustenance of this miraculously achieved long-awaited peace. We have not come to terrorize you, our brothers and sisters, we have come to embrace you in love and harmony.

Our members are not involved in the recent spate of armed attacks on residents of Freetown. No RUF member has so far been caught looting or behaving in any indisciplinary manner. Perhaps what has delayed the wholesome practicality of this long-cherished peace is this threat of a Nigerian invasion. But the moment that chapter is closed, we are prepared to disarm and melt into the civilian populace and the regular army, because we are fully convinced that the foundation for lasting peace and true democracy has been laid.

We have all along been most willing to end this crisis peacefully, but the past governments proved insincere and unfaithful to their words. The NPRC did not come with the desired reformation, and the SLPP made mockery of the Abidjan Peace Accord. Instead of integrating us into the society as promised, the SLPP only tried to bring divisiveness in our camp by selling our leader Corporal Foday Saybana Sankoh to the Nigerians and staging a coup against him. This was a blatant disregard of the articles of the Peace Accord. Even when some of our members surrendered, they were still ostricized and treated as the dregs of society. And further still, even though we were abiding by the dictates of the cease-fire agreement, Hinga Norman directed the Kamajors to attack our bases. This clearly showed that the SLPP was not ready for PEACE, and so we prepared for the worst. But we must give bountiful thanks to the Almighty for the refreshing fact that instead of the worst, it is the best that has come through the concrete unbelievable peace that has been attained through the AFRC.

We have not therefore denounced attempts at bringing back Tejan Kabbah because we hate him, but it is because he is not willing to accept us as his fellow Sierra Leoneans. Ex-President Kabbah disappointed us gravely, and we can never trust him again. We were prepared for peace, but the SLPP was not. We are therefore appealing to the International Community, and all those that love Sierra Leone, to critically examine the Sierra Leonean problem before any unwarranted action is taken. For six years, we have lived in blood-bath, let us now have fresh baths in our streams, swimming pools and beaches.

We assure the International Community and all Sierra Leoneans of the RUF's total and unflinching commitment to lasting peace. All that we need now is for the United Nations to take the lead in assisting the AFRC in demobilising and re-integrating our combatants into the society for the ultimate achievement of true democracy through free and fair elections that will be conducted in the whole country in peace. At least we can today sleep in peace in the thought that Sierra Leone has finally achieved its nationhood by being bold enough to tell the whole world that we are capable of solving our own problems. The People's Army has come to stay.