Our thoughts are with Sierra Leoneans as they hold their national elections and await the outcome. You can read below the full statement to press that we issued yesterday together with our Sierra Leonean partner Fambul Tok, calling for peaceful elections and cohesive work to fulfill the nation’s promise after the elections. You can also listen here to the jingle we produced that is now airing across the Sierra Leone, featuring Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew singing in support of violence-free elections.
PRESS STATEMENT – Catalyst for Peace, Fambul Tok International – March 6, 2018
When the people of Sierra Leone work together with a common vision and purpose, transformational good is possible – even when there is deep division and difference. Having seen this in practice time and time again, on the eve of national elections we at Fambul Tok (a Sierra Leonean NGO) and Catalyst for Peace (Fambul Tok’s US-based program partner) urge all Sierra Leoneans to remember our common vision of a healthy, strong, country with thriving communities – and to vote peacefully. Regardless of who wins, everyone is needed in the work of building the country up to fulfill its potential.
In the decade that we have worked together, over and over again, we have seen what’s possible when the people of Sierra Leone work together.
We have seen people and communities come together to heal from the wounds of war – like the more than 250 Sections that held healing fambul tok reconciliation bonfires, with communities now able to work together again after years of stagnation and silent suffering.
We have seen women rise to new leadership in building up their communities, like the Peace Mothers groups now active in over 200 sections in 6 Districts, who are leading community farming and women’s empowerment initiatives, addressing social challenges like preventing teen pregnancy, and building needed infrastructure like health posts or even schools. Their stories are even inspiring global networks of women, in places like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and the United States.
We have seen whole chiefdoms take charge of their own post-Ebola recovery, creating their own People’s Plans for recovery and development, and then jumping in to work on fulfilling those development priorities without even waiting for outside aid. In Neini Chiefdom the people took the lead with building a much-needed bridge. Also, in Kissi Teng Chiefdom the people took the lead to address the lack of secondary school in the Chiefdom headquarters by self-financing the construction of their much needed school. Similarly, in Fakunya Chiefdom the community people in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture have embarked on large scale agricultural project for women through supply of seeds and other equipment.
We have seen District leadership – including Councils, MDAs, Traditional Leaders, and CSOs – step up to new levels of courageous collaboration across not only political party but aid sectors to deal with longstanding challenges to development, like the Inclusive District Committees have done in Kailahun, Koinadugu and Moyamba Districts. As a result, in each of those districts, they have resolved longstanding conflicts between District Councils and Paramount Chiefs around revenue collection, in the process creating channels for powerful new collaboration that is making people’s lives better in tangible ways in those districts.
We know what the Sierra Leonean people are capable of when given the chance – we have seen it over and over again. We also know that violence creates more violence, divides us and weakens the potential of our people.
Let’s remember that, even with our differences, we are all Wan Fambul. Let’s remember the good we all know is possible for the nation. And after our peaceful votes, let’s accept the result and recommit to working towards inclusive governance and rural development putting communities and people in firm control of their development agenda.