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When COVID-19 reached Sierra Leone, the government responded by implementing strict containment measures. While the effectiveness of such actions has been debated, the socioeconomic and political implications were undeniable. This qualitative study reveals that people suffered tremendously from economic insecurity, strains on social relationships, and civil rights violations, prompting many to perceive the COVID-19 pandemic as worse than the 2014–15 Ebola epidemic. These hardships have driven distrust of the government, which threatens continuing mitigation efforts. Using a feminist global health security frame, which recenters the protection of vulnerable individuals in relation to the state, we call for more contextually-relevant, civil society-informed pandemic responses.
Marshall Sahlins claims that individuals with personal power, influence, networks, and control over their followers within the political sphere are actually “big-men” rather than “chiefs.” Big-men derive their authority from personal maneuvering, whereas “chiefs” obtain their authority from semi-hierarchical, formalized, and de-personalized rule. De Bruijne argues that those individuals who are perceived as “big men” in post-war Sierra Leone might be better understood as “chiefs.”
Drawing on empirical research from Pujehun and Port Loko districts in Sierra Leone, this article explains the variable pathways of civic activism mobilised by environmental advocacy, and legal empowerment organisations, in response to two prominent land grabs. By grounding the analysis within the ontology of place, this study examines the dynamic interplay between national politics, global corporate interests, transnational advocacy, and civic agency in each place. The article finds that although the balance of power between these actors matters, the nature of corporate interests involved can be significant in determining the exact trajectory of civic mobilisation, and ultimately its success.
This chapter concludes by revisiting the literature on local transitional justice to demonstrate the importance of looking at social structures and individual agency to better understand these processes and programs. I will elaborate on how recognized mechanisms in Sierra Leone were, in fact, both physically and psychologically distanced from people’s everyday priorities, further begging the question for whom these institutions implemented and why? Therefore, engaging with transitional justice mechanisms is both conceptually and practically privileged. This goes beyond simply critiquing transitional justice mechanisms to interrogate its conceptual and institutional foundations. The alternative ways people engaged with and outside of these programs demonstrate how people enacted transitions and justice on their own, often individual terms, both in relation to the conflict and other, more contemporary issues. Therefore, justice is not something to be done to or for people, as is often how the discourses have been framed with individuals as passive participants for whom justice is being served; rather, justice is something you can mobilize and do for yourself to address individual and communal needs.
This chapter provides the relevant background on conflict and recognized transitional justice mechanisms in Sierra Leone. It explores individual and communal experiences of peace, conflict and justice during the civil conflict and in the post-conflict era. The first half illustrates the diversity of war-related experiences and highlights the creative ways people managed their everyday challenges in conflict. The second half discusses recognized transitional justice mechanisms, including the DDR program, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and reparations program. It explores how institutions understand local ownership and contrasts this with Sierra Leonean perceptions and the (intended and unintended) ways in which they engaged with these mechanisms. This chapter provides broader insights into how people navigate their circumstances in conflict and post-conflict societies and the various ways in which recognized transitional justice mechanisms can be interpreted and engaged with in diverse ways and at different points in time.
This chapter provides the core argument and engages with concepts and theories relevant to the book. It begins with a comprehensive literature review of the turn to the local within transitional justice. While local transitional justice mechanisms are supposed to better align with the needs and priorities of affected populations, often these programs are measured against their own goals, or normative expectations of transitional justice, which overlooks how individuals and communities navigate these programs in multiple and diverse ways. This book examines different types of agency of Sierra Leoneans in what I refer to as recognised and unrecognised local transitional justice processes. Using Fambul Tok as an example of a recognised local transitional justice program, the book explores how various types of agency are involved in constructing and shaping local TJ programs, often resulting in a range of unintended consequences. This book builds upon scholarship in a range of disciplines including peace and conflict studies, anthropology, development, politics and social and legal studies. Ultimately, the book argues that justice does not happen to or for people, but that is an act in and of itself. It illustrates how local programs and processes actually work in practice.
In post-war Sierra Leone, a range of transitional justice mechanisms were implemented to address experiences of conflict, violence, and human rights violations. Much of the research on local transitional justice processes has focused on the work of organisations, failing to acknowledge how individual and communal dynamics shape and are shaped by these programs. Drawing on original fieldwork in Sierra Leone, Laura S. Martin moves beyond discussions measuring effectiveness and considers how people navigate their circumstances in conflict and post-conflict societies. Developing the idea of recognised and unrecognised transitional justice processes, Martin uses Fambul Tok as an example of a recognised local transitional justice program and shows how ordinary Sierra Leoneans appropriated Fambul Tok's agenda for their own purposes. Ultimately, this book highlights the crucial role of agency and the diverse range of actors involved in transitional justice processes. Justice, as Martin powerfully argues, is not something that happens to or for people, but is enacted by individuals and communities.
Wild meat is associated with an increased risk of zoonotic diseases. In some West African countries wild meat consumption declined as the result of official restrictions following Ebola outbreaks during 2013–2016, and was also affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic. In Sierra Leone, a country affected by these diseases, we documented wild meat use in four markets in the capital, Freetown. From a total of 197 interviews, we analysed the influence of age and gender on the types of wild meat eaten and the reasons for their consumption. We found that more men than women consumed wild meat, and for both genders taste was the main reason for eating wild meat. Age did not affect wild meat consumption amongst women. Evidence for changes in consumer behaviour in response to zoonotic disease risk was mixed. Although some consumers avoided wild meat because of disease risk, none stated this was the primary reason for not eating wild meat, and monkeys (presumed to carry a high zoonotic disease risk) were amongst the species cited as being consumed often. More work is needed to identify the best pathway towards safe and sustainable consumption of wild meat in urban Sierra Leone.
What was the turning point in the world's largest and deadliest outbreak of the Ebola virus disease? Public health interventions tend to focus on supply-side provision of public health goods. These goods are clinical resources such as medicine or equipment. However, no nation has enough resources to ‘treat’ its way out of a widespread epidemic. Behavioural changes, such as social distancing, are needed too. Behaviours are the demand-side of public health goods and if unaddressed, perpetuate disease transmission. Community-based institutions addressed demand-side barriers during the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Sixty-seven interviews were conducted in several provinces in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The findings show that information asymmetry and collective action challenges lowered the demand for clinical resources. Community-based institutions intervened via health sensitization and emergency regulations. Therefore, health seeking and public cooperation improved. This research study demonstrates a need to integrate community-led action into public health emergency management.
The experiences of John William Bannister as Chief Justice of Sierra Leone are brought into conversation with those of his brother Thomas Bannister, a settler in Australia, as both tried urgently to mobilize the global resources of empire to rescue failing family fortunes. In Sierra Leone, John William Bannister tried to administer impartial justice in a deeply racialized context. Thomas was one of the ‘pioneers’ in the Swan River colony in western Australia and an investor in the project of Van Diemen’s Land settlers to colonize Kulin lands in what would become the colony of Victoria, in the aftermath of genocidal violence in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). He promoted consensual colonialism through treaties, echoing his brother Saxe, former Attorney General of New South Wales. The chapter examines the invasion of Australia, including violence against Indigenous peoples, ‘exploration’, ecological change including the importation of livestock, British elite patronage and the highly controversial effort of disingenuous settlers to create a treaty with the Kulin. The chapter closes with comparison between West Africa and Australian coastal colonies in the 1820s and 30s, disparate sites along the sea lanes of empire tenuously linked by imperial markets, military control and common justificatory ideologies.
This paper presents an inexhaustive but thorough review of the evidence of violence against persons with disabilities that came before, or ought to have been known to, the prosecutors of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. This research demonstrates that despite significant and compelling evidence from investigators, journalists and witnesses, gross violations against persons with disabilities were largely ignored by the prosecution or treated merely as aggravating factors at sentencing. These crimes could instead have been characterized as an “other inhumane act” prosecutable as a crime against humanity, which would have emphasized the gravity of the crimes, provided recognition of the victims’ suffering, imposed criminal sanctions on those responsible, and unequivocally condemned violence against persons with disabilities during armed conflict.
“Worlds of Color,” first published in Foreign Affairs in 1925, argues that the labor problem in Europe is only a facet of a much greater global labor problem, the “World Shadow” of colonial exploitation. It offers a comparative study of the Portuguese, Belgian, French, and British empires in Africa and their distinctive regimes of race relations, land ownership, and labor, paying particular attention to the fate of educated Africans in the various colonies. It scrutinizes the variety of colonial regimes and economic systems instituted by the British across Africa in their efforts to extract resources under different local conditions. The essay reflects on the proceedings of the 1923 Third Pan-African Congress and draws on impressions and information gained during Du Bois’s first visit to Africa. The essay was republished in Alain Locke’s landmark Harlem Renaissance anthology, The New Negro (1925).
This chapter unpacks questions of judicial compliance in autocratic regimes. On what basis can we assume that judges will dutifully execute the autocrat’s agenda? What can autocrats do to ensure that judges do cooperate? To answer these questions, I focus on the obstacles African autocrats confronted in the postcolonial period when they attempted to use courts for repressive ends as well as the strategies and tactics they used to overcome them. I find that postcolonial autocrats faced a trade-off in judicial design: Professionalizing the judiciary restricted who was eligible to serve on the bench. Facing a shortage of locally qualified jurists, autocrats instead recruited judges from abroad. Drawing on a variety of archival sources, I show that African and British officials worked together to expand the supply of judicial candidates across the British Commonwealth, which not only undermined the power of indigenous African judges but also helped cultivate more compliant courts.
This chapter uses case studies of postcolonial Tanzania and Sierra Leone to examine pathways of persecution and punishment during pivotal moments of autocratic contestation and consolidation. Through careful process tracing, I analyze how the politics of the early independence period, which were fundamentally shaped by the struggle for national control, influenced strategies of judicial and extrajudicial repression in the years that followed. My analysis draws on a variety of archival sources that provide a rare window into the challenges faced by new autocrats, including how threats to autocratic survival were perceived in real time.
Relatively few longitudinal studies have been undertaken of change and development among rural communities in Africa. Drawing on field-based research conducted over almost five decades, the article examines the shocks and adaptive strategies experienced in the remote rural community of Kayima in north-eastern Sierra Leone. In coping with both external and internal shocks and displaying a remarkable level of resilience, there has however been very little improvement in community livelihoods, and it is suggested that it is a case of ‘resilience without development’. It is likely that the findings of the study could have wider relevance among rural communities elsewhere in Africa.
This article aims to demonstrate that respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) may help reduce the impact of organized crime in areas affected by armed conflict through a case study of the conflict in Sierra Leone (1991–2002). In this conflict, a symbiosis in violence was created, with diamond smuggling being essential to achieve the parties’ military objectives, and those objectives being increasingly shaped by involvement in diamond smuggling. This led to further violence connected with the conflict and breaches of IHL. Ensuring compliance with IHL may therefore reduce the impact of these activities in armed conflicts. An important tool in securing this compliance is the influence of other States not party to the conflict, further to their obligation to ensure respect for IHL.
The field of psychological assessment has seen consistent growth for almost a century with significant expansion of the literature centered largely around research in Western Europe and North America. Comparatively, there has not been as much progress in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and this is typical of what pertains in many other non-Western countries. The measurement of constructs and development of psychological tests in SSA therefore have largely been based on Eurocentric theories and philosophies. This is partly because in SSA, scientific psychology is modeled on Western theories. There has not been enough research in SSA to develop relevant indigenous African theories. Therefore, assessment is still closely tied to Western theories which inform development of tests and measurements. In this chapter we trace the history of psychological assessment in Anglophone West Africa. We discuss the trajectory of the psychological assessment, the need for the development of indigenous psychological assessment in order to wean itself from its Eurocentric roots, and finally the challenges and the prospects in West Africa.
People already living in impoverished conditions are the most exposed and vulnerable to human-caused EV. Trapped in this dynamic are the riparian communities along the Pampana River, Sierra Leone. People there are struggling to emerge from the aftershocks of a bloody, 11-year civil war and a deadly Ebola outbreak that killed 4,000 people. Intersecting with and upending this already-daunting recovery process are the daily effects of EV. The riparian communities live with and downstream of gold mining operations, which are actively poisoning the Pampana River watershed, a resource that many people depend on for their everyday life needs. In this chapter I use the EV framework to investigate local accounts of growing EV in the Pampana River watershed in Tonkolili District and Koinadugu District, Northern Province, Sierra Leone. I track EV in action in this local setting and connect it to its global drivers and its contributions to change in broader Earth System processes. By plugging EV in a local case into its global implications and connections, both of cause and of effect, we can more fully see the value of EV as an analytical tool and a functional concept.
Sierra Leone is a country highly prone to disasters, still recovering from the catastrophic 2014 Ebola epidemic. In 2018, the country launched its first National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS) aiming to strengthen the provision of essential health services to the population with the long-term goal of creating a resilient health system able to effectively respond to and recover from emergencies. The Center for Research and Training in Disaster Medicine, Humanitarian Aid, and Global Health (CRIMEDIM), together with the Italian NGO Doctors with Africa (CUAMM), under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), developed a prehospital Disaster Training Package (DTP) to be delivered to all NEMS personnel to boost the prehospital management of mass-casualty incidents (MCIs) and outbreaks. The DTP included a first phase in which NEMS local trainers underwent a training-of-trainers (ToT) course, enabling them to deliver cascade trainings to 16 district ambulance supervisors, 441 paramedics, 441 ambulance drivers, and 36 operators working in the NEMS operation center. This on-going training package represents the first Disaster Medicine training course for prehospital health professionals in Sierra Leone.