Gbapi Songo Bonfire Settles 20 Disputes

Fambul Tok facilitates truth-telling bonfire at Gbapi Songo, Songo section in the Fakunya chiefdom, Moyamba district. Over a thousand people from the 17 villages attended the ceremony on Monday evening.

The truth-telling ceremony started with prayers, dancing and singing. Section chief John Sinnah welcomed the bonfire as an opportunity for cultural rebirth and community reunion. The Peace Mothers of Songo section spearheaded the truth telling, forgiveness and reconciliation process.

Women’s mask devils and dancers performed through out the night. Sallay Caulker, head of Peace Mothers, explained how much work they have done in the community and said the purpose of the bonfire was to resolve conflicts between everyone regardless of age, gender or community status.

Fambul Tok Joseph Benji and Sadiatu Pessima called on participants to come forward and feel free to express themselves, as the whole exercise is non-judicial and voluntary.

The first people to come forward were two women who were not on speaking terms for the past three years. They were married to the same man and sleeping under the same roof. They developed animosity to each other because of issues around food sharing in the house. After telling their stories, they shook hands and embrace. They drums went wild drowning the clapping of hands and singing! Then others followed!

Mariama Musa testified that she was abandoned by her husband for another lady for over four years.She said she stayed with her four kids all as a single parent until recently when her husband, Lebbie Musa came back to apologize.She did not want to reconcile but peace mothers committee took the bold be step to calm her and ask her to accept her husband again. Lebbie said he was responsible for what happened and took oath to support her wife again.Tears ran down their cheeks as both reconciled.

The Peace Mothers resolved twenty conflicts during the night alone! They were mainly family disputes and disputes between neighbours. A Peace Mother Sandra Sesay thanked Fambul Tok and prayed for healing and prosperity of Fakunya Chiefdom.

In the morning, the women facilitated Islamic and Christian prayers and the traditional pouring of libation to the ancestors for forgiveness and prevalence of peace.