Hear Me

We slept at night not knowing whether we would see dawn

Sulaiman Mohamed Bangura, on surviving the Civil War
By Mahawa Kamara
27 August 2021
Sulaiman Bangura, Freetown

You ask about the Civil War. It was horrible. What we went though as individuals, I pray that we never go through such things in life again.

Our war was bloody. Hands and limbs were chopped off by Junta One. Junta One were the rebels from the bush. They were more dangerous than Junta Two, who were those who were joined forcefully by Junta One, though some people joined willingly too.

The rebels took over my village in Port Loko. We were running from one bush to the next. We slept at night not knowing whether we would see dawn. We wore the same clothes for months. We ate rice that was not cooked properly, with Maggi seasoning when we could get it. We had no salt. We longed for salt.

My uncle went missing during this time. We still don’t know what happened to him. My aunt still cries for him. I remember him as a good man and I pray he is alive somewhere.

We came to Freetown after the War. My uncle was the breadwinner of the family. With him gone, it was not easy for us in the village. It was difficult for us in the city in the beginning, but now we have adapted. I am the breadwinner now.

Even today, during festive seasons when I hear firecrackers or anything that resembles a gunshot, I am frightened. I remember what we went through. I remember my friend who was shot in his leg when rebels attacked our village. When I go downtown, I see people who have lost limbs and suffered so much and I remember how it was. I feel bad.

Things are not easy, but we are coping with life’s challenges. What I have learnt is that in this life there will be challenges. How you treat those challenges is what will define you. So I have chosen to be strong for myself and my aunt, who is more vulnerable.

Now I have a job as a builder. I am able to take care of myself and my aunt. I am happy that I can look after my aunt, who is so precious to me. 

I have a message to my fellow citizens and the government. To my fellow citizens I ask to avoid politics once they have voted and elected a leader. Let him do his job diligently. My message to the government is that they work for all citizens, without regionalism and tribalism. What we all suffered during the Civil War cannot be overemphasised.

Photo: Mahawa Kamara