Gbangay Kanu

  • My Educational Goal:

My objective is to complete my degree programme wish a sound result in Peace And Conflict Studies. Subsequent of which would be a post-graduate degree in other relevant fields. After which I will return back to my community to serve my people.

  • Personal Experience of War:

My experience during the war specifically was horrific. It brings to my memory the heinous crimes or atrocities committed during the eleven years of civil strife in our beloved Sierra Leone.

I would like to state categorically that the war was senseless. The rebels were myopic because they failed to recognize that staging a war would only lead to unnecessary deaths, underdevelopment, stagnation and poverty. In fact, the people whom they said they had come to liberate were subjected to mass violation of their rights. Ordinary people were killed, they were amputated and slaughtered in their thousands. Women and children suffered the most as women were raped. Sexual violence (especially rape and sexual mutilations) was used as a troop motivation and a weapon of war against them. Children were forcefully recruited and were forced to serve as transport vehicles for the rebels.

When the war started in 1991 I just seven years old. I was too young to grasp what was happening. I started to recognize what other people above my age during the war were experiencing when I turned eleven. Initially I heard that there was serious fighting going on in the provinces but being in Freetown I still did not understand because in Freetown we did not feel the brunt of the war until later. We only heard stories by displaced people who had come from the provinces after the war broke out in their areas.

In January, 1999 when the rebels entered Freetown we came to realize what the people in the provinces had been experiencing. We started to notice a different world as killing, looting, rape, amputation, and burning down of houses became more intensive with each passing day. It was a quite strange and tormenting experience. The episode, which brought serious panic and trauma, was when we heard several echoes of arsenals. The only alternative that we could think to resort to was to seek refuge in the bush or thick forest. There was a situation in our hands that made our story worse. My elder brother's wife was eight months pregnant. We were in the bush running helter skelter for a safe haven. She gave birth to a girl child in the forest one full month early. My brother had to risk his life from that forest to find food and medicine. The rains were coming heavily because it was mid-July. There was no proper shelter as we were only using a tent as an alternative. Things worsened by the day. There was a sharp scarcity of food. The only alternative was to come out from the forest and risk being killed. We had to walk for miles that we had never walked before to find a settlement that was a bit safe. On our way we saw corpses (people who had been hit by a bomb). It was quite horrific and an ugly scene.

Eventually, though we were able to reach a village along the peninsular road called Idonkia village. There the atmosphere was quite different and a bit tranquil. We remained in that village until we could return safely home.

  • My Experience in Peace:

What I have observed so far in peace is quite acceptable and welcome. I noticed that with peace and perfect harmony development in the country will be enhanced. Peaceful situation goes with promotion and observance of human rights issues. Indeed with peace I have been able to pursue my education irrespective of the other many challenges faced.