There is an African proverb which says “There is no bad bush to throw away a bad child.” Indeed, Africans do not emphasize crime and punishment but stress the culture of forgiveness and reconciliation through various traditional ways.
Sierra Leone, a country that suffered from a eleven-year old conflict is one of the countries that has a very rich tradition. Sierra Leoneans believe that ‘a blazing fire will not put off another blazing fire,’ but that a problem won’t be settled unless and until it is settled in a family way.
With the revival of traditions to help reconcile broken relationships and communities through Fambul Tok, many communities are now using the concept of Fambul Tok to settle their own minor disputes rather than going through the formal justice system. This is yielding fruits in the country and beyond because pressure is mounted on Fambul Tok by various organisations outside Sierra Leone to use its approach of community reconciliation.
In Falaba village, Sulima chiefdom, Koinadugu district in the north of Sierra Leone, one of the boys that was captured and recruited into one of the fighting forces during the war has heaved a sigh of relief as he lives happily with Pa Yeare Samura.
Hassan was captured by rebels at the tender age of eight (8) and was forced to burn down several houses in Falaba.
In his testimony during Fambul Tok reconciliation ceremony in Falaba on May 19, Hassan confessed that he was forced to lead troops to Pa Samura’s house. Fortunately for the old man he got information that rebels wanted him dead so he escaped but he house was razed to the ground.
When the war was declared over, Hassan returned to Falaba to settle down. He is now in his early twenties. Pa Samura also decided to come back home begin life from nowhere. Both Hassan and Pa Samura were not on speaking terms for over 10 years. Each time they set eyes on each other, they described how it seemed a time bomb was set, awaiting to explode.
After both men reconciled in May, Fambul Tok has realised that they are working as one in the interest of peace and reconciliation.
“He is now like a father to me. I always assist Pa Samura any time the need arises,” Hassan says.
On the other hand Pa Samura says everything is fine as Hassan always assist him to work on his farm.