Adolphus Buster Flood
- My Educational Goal:
I am currently doing Peace and Conflict Studies.
- My Career Goal:
Because of my experience during the war I would like to become a lawyer which by the help of God Almighty would give the poor man his right and to put those to justice that need it so that people will have trust in the judiciary and eventually, perpetrators of violence would cease to perpetuate violence. And Peace will reign in my sweet motherland, Sierra Leone, the Athens of West Africa.
- Personal Experience of War:
I am a Sierra Leonean but grew up in Liberia where my family and I went through hell due to the civil war. During the 1990 Octopus war in Liberia my family and I were forced to leave our dwelling. Though I was a kid of four years I could still remember when the house next door was set ablaze with the entire household in it. That particular day my Mum and Dad packed the little things their hands could touch and we left immediately to where? We didn't know. On our way we saw a lot of dead bodies lying on the road. And one of the bodies I could remember was a young girl who was raped to death. One could tell because of the blood that ran from her private part. This ugly scene up to now is affecting me psychologically each time I reflect my mind to it. Even as of now.
However, we took nearly six days to reach the university campus called Fender campus. Before reaching this campus, one had to pass through a checkpoint called "God bless you gate". As the name implies if one passes this point, then one is really blessed.
My family and I after walking about 50-60 miles finally reached this checkpoint which was not too far from the campus. When we arrived there the first thing that I saw was a fresh human head with blood running from its nostrils and ears and it was attached to a stick. It was a sign that we were close to death. This made me to become more terrified even though I was on the back of my dad.
The rebels at this checkpoint were killing people based on their tribes especially the Gio and Mandingo, which were their main target. When it came to our turn to be checked, one of the rebels called my dad saying "papay, come here". You are looking like one Mandingo man. Immediately he ordered my dad to sit on the ground, including my entire family. We did it because we had no options but to obey. And then my mum was called and she was asked her tribe. She told the rebels that she was Mende and from SL and that my dad, her husband was a Kongoh (American Liberian). The commander at the checkpoint from a distance called and looked at me in the eye. I was terrified and thought within myself that my end had come. But on the contrary he just looked at me and told me that I really resembled my dad and that I was the true son of my father. This was how God made it simple for my family to pass through this gate that was next to hell where many lives were left in the hands of those demons who called themselves "freedom fighters".
Finally we reached the campus which contained about two to three hundred thousand people in its rooms. There were some big buildings on the campus and the building that we occupied was the science building. It was a five-story building and we were lucky to get accommodation on the third floor. Beneath the building were soldiers of Charles Taylor who were half uniformed with red rags on their heads. This building was fully surrounded by soldiers. Charles Taylor's rebels were at the front of the building and that of Prince Johnson's at the back. We thought we were safe but on the contrary we were from the frying pan into the fire where we got burnt everyday by the bullets of heavy weapons used by these rebels. Our lives were not determined by our Creator but by those disciples of Satan.
The room we were in contained over three hundred people. Death was also living in our midst. People were dying in twenties each day that even to go out of the room was a problem. At times, corpses had to stay in the rooms for 2-3 days because of the intense firing beneath the building between the rebels and Prince Johnson's soldiers. To receive fresh air one had to jump over bodies before reaching the door.
I remember a time when the death rate of children outnumbered the old. The news reached Charles Taylor's rebels and they immediately came up and reacted by killing every old person they met especially the old women. According to them they said that the old women were bewitching the children by exchanging their lives with the children's. This was how every old person was killed in that room where we were in. The rebels also extended this to other rooms. For the rest of that day there was crying here and there.
When a ceasefire was declared Charles Taylor came to the campus and made an announcement with a megaphone saying that people should come out to find food and water. This was the first time I ever set eyes on Charles Taylor through the window. With this announcement my mum and dad went out to look for food on which we managed for days.
When President Samuel K. Doe was brutally assassinated by Prince Johnson and others Charles Taylor came on the campus for the second time and told us to go home and that peace had come to Liberia. After the Octopus war and the killing of President Doe, Liberia was experiencing negative peace in which there were massive arbitrary arrests, extra judicial executions, deprivation, depression, exploitation and to crown it all massive violations of human rights. These vices led to a lot of uprisings such as the "Butt Naked".
However between March and April 1996 another civil war was sparked in Liberia, leaving Liberians homeless. My family again after five years, packed and left our home for the seaport where rescue ships were to take people to neighboring countries such as SL and Guinea. We had to spend two days on the road to the port. On arriving we were late to go with the first ship sailing for SL and had to spend the night at the port, sleeping in an open container. This port was however the safest place in the whole of Liberia because ECOMOG soldiers surrounded it and until our departure I never set eyes on a rebel. We spent four days on sea and on the fifth day we arrived in SL but were asked to return to sea because we arrived at night. The next day we had a clear picture of SL. This was in early April 1996.
After some months we found it very difficult to find a place to stay on our own. My family was marginalized by some of the people we met. We were marked as refugees, and in certain areas, our freedom of speech, movement and association were restricted. This made me to hate myself and the word refugee. For my mum, a qualified teacher, to be given a job was a problem. And even when she was given the teaching job she was not paid for several months even until the period when the AFRC junta regime ousted the democratically elected SLPP government. Through out the ten months reign of AFRC my family was living in a community that is known for violence, the Brookfields community. We suffered severely more especially when we just entered SL as refugees.
With the help of God we finally got a place at Hill Street, a street just opposite State House. During the interventions of ECOMOG the junta burned down our house on Hill Street with everything in it. When ECOMOG took over State House, my entire family and almost all my neighbors went to see the ECOMOG soldiers who had ousted the rebels. It was in front of my face since my birth that I saw someone being killed by another person. The ECOMOG soldiers captured some rebels and they were executed right in front of us, one by one, until about 15 of them were killed.
As a young boy of eleven I was eager to see and know things. I then left my mother, sisters and brother and went to the eastern part of Freetown, commonly known as Eastern Police where I saw some civilians putting tires on two men they labeled rebels and set them ablaze just by the clock tower. I would never forget this particular scene where human beings were roasting like monkeys.
On Jan 6 1999 another civil war sparked due to an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow President Kabbah which led to a loss of many lives and property. I was nearly killed by rebel whose finger was already on the trigger. He was a member of the Small Boys Unit. The reason why he had wanted to kill me as he said was because I was the son of a teacher and that my mother refused to promote him in her class. But another rebel told him to leave me alone. Both of them were my classmates. That was how God saved my life. After the rebels had left the city ECOMOG soldiers started going on a house-to-house search. And when they reached our house they never found anything but when leaving an ECOMOG soldier ordered me to hold his weapon. Out of obedience I did it and he then said that I was a rebel belonging to SBU. He told my mum that he was going to shoot me right in front of her. My mum pleaded with him saying that I was school going boy and a refugee from Liberia. This was backed up with our refugee attestation. With this evidence the ECOMOG soldier left me. This was again how God saved my life.
- My Experience in Peace:
Today there is still violence in SL. It is a structural form of violence where violence in the judicial sector twists the rights of the poor to wrong them. And the wrong of the rich is twisted to right which in the long run will result in conflict. Stabbing is at a rampage everywhere in the country. People are taking the law into their hands because of the ineffectiveness of the judiciary. Political difference between the "green" (SLPP) and the "red" (APC) is widely spread across the country, which is the cause of massive violence.
Recently we experienced an outbreak of violence between the "red" and the "green" in which members or supporters of APC after the opening of the Clock Tower went to the office of SLPP and starting throwing stones at the office. This violence was so intense that the car of the General Secretary of SLPP was set on fire by supporters of APC. Some supporters of APC were alleged to have raped six women including an eight-month pregnant woman. Sierra Leoneans and other human rights organizations see this act of violence as inhuman.