AFRC collaborator asks for mercy

Fofana (center) being embraced by his people

Fambul Tok has expanded to Bombali District in Sierra Leone, and new truth-telling bonfires there have inaugurated several instances of confession, apology and forgiveness.

One of the men who collaborated with the then Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) during Sierra Leone’s civil war to loot property belonging to poor villagers has openly apologized to his people and asked for forgiveness. This happened during the Fambul Tok bonfire ceremony in Kagbo village, Safroko Limba chiefdom, Bombali district.

John Fofana, who used to go by the jungle name Johnny Moore, was accused by several villagers of having led members of the defunct AFRC on a looting spree in neighboring villages, carting away foodstuffs, animals and other items.

Testifying at the bonfire, one of the town chiefs accused Fofana of wreaking havoc in several villages, blaming the former junta collaborator for their poverty and present predicament.  Another testifier went on to state that Fofana was always in the midst of the groups that raided villages in the Safroko Limba chiefdom, noting that they as youth had been very uncompromising with Fofana since he was appointed youth leader.

“This is because many people still regard him as an enemy due to atrocities he committed during the war,” says Joseph Kanu. He continued, saying that now that Fambul Tok has shown the value of forgiveness, they are willing and ready to work with him for the development of the community.

Before asking for forgiveness, Fofana told the gathering that it was never his wish to unleash mayhem on his people as he was issued strict instructions by the rebels to loot villages.

“I was constantly being watched and any attempt to escape or act contrary to command would have resulted to my being executed,” he explained.

After his brief testimony, Fofana went down his knees and asked for forgiveness for all the wrongs he did to his people during the war.

The village reconciliation committee of Fambul Tok intervened and asked all those Fofana had wronged to forgive him.  He was forgiven and embraced once more in the community.

Woman confesses to burning a house during the war

Two women reconciled during bonfire in Kankaya

A woman who was captured and forced by the then Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels during to set a house ablaze has heaved a sigh of relief and now walks as a free person.

H.S, now in her late twenties,  testified during Fambul Tok reconciliation ceremony in Kankaya village, Sulima chiefdom, Koinadugu district.

She explained how she was ordered by the rebels to set fire on Madam Soriba Sesay’s house and during that incident three people died in the inferno. She said she stayed with the rebels for three months.

‘I was always looking forward to apologizing to my people but there was no way except when Fambul Tok created a space for us so we can apologize and ask for forgiveness,” H.S. emphasized.

In response, the victim, Soriba Sesay, said she was shocked when she heard H.S’s testimony.

“When she called my names, I was really surprised because she had never told me anything about the incident but only now I realized that she was responsible for the atrocity,” Soriba told the gathering, adding, “now that Fambul Tok has asked us to forgive and reconcile, I am ready to forgive her.”  Both H.S and Soriba embraced each other for the very first time in the spirit of reconciliation.

Rebel collaborator explained why he led troops

Since the war was declared over in Sierra Leone, B.K (alias ‘laugh to me’) of Madina village, Makari Gbanti chiefdom, Bombali district has been living in constant fear. His fear was that despite the end of hostilities, he was still convinced that he would be confronted by many people because of the role he played during the country’s civil war.

During the Fambul Tok bonfire ceremony in Madina over the weekend, B.K was accused by Ibrahim Kamara of leading gun-wielding rebels to Matoko village to loot property belonging to poor villagers.  Kamara recalled a date in 1998 when he met B.K with rebels. He said they have in their possession looted goods.

“I met him on the way and he told me he was going to see the town chief of Matoko but surprisingly when we met again, it was a different situation as gun toting men were all over the place,” Kamara explained.

Responding to the allegation, B.K carefully narrated his ordeal with the rebels. He said he was captured against his will and forced to lead troops to loot items in nearby villages.

“You all know that during that time people were forced to do things and had I refused I would have been killed,” B.K told his audience.

The two men shook hands after the involvement of Fambul Tok reconciliation committee members that prevailed on both men to see themselves as brothers once again and turn a new page.