by James Pessima, age 19, Boys High School, Freetown, Sierra Leone
My name is James Pessima a Boys High School leaver and I am 19. On the 6th
of January a terrible thing happened to me which has affected my life till
date. I was dwelling at a place called Calaba Town when rebels of the
Revolutionary United Front (RUF), mostly child soldiers attacked the place
we lived. It was during a very unholy hour of the morning 2 am. They were so
many as if their mothers have no control over them. Indeed they have no
parental control as they were under the supervision of elderly rebels and
the influence of hard drugs.
These rebels who were actually child combatants held us hostage in that
besieged vicinity for two terrible weeks with barely any food or drink. On
the 18th of January ECOMOG attacked the base of these child combatants
(rebels) and their adult rebels and the latter dispersed into the nearby
hills around the East -end of Freetown and others disappeared down the
peninsula. Allen town, Calabatown, Porty Areas were then under ECOMOG
stronghold. We never knew that this was just for a while ((as we were
already praising ECOMOG for our redemtion.
On Friday 22nd January, about 1 PM the child combatants (rebel) the fiercest
amongst the group who were still lurking around the hills regrouped and
attacked ECOMOG positions.
My family and I ran for safety to a new location in the same eastern of
freetown.exchanges of gunshots rang and we have faith thatthe little boys
(childsoldiers) will be easily thrashed by ECOMOG. they were underrated and
these tiny guirella fighters beat ECOMOG back.
My father, mother, sister, brother,cousins melted away for safety and none
of us knew where the others where at those various locations of hiding
The child solider eventually met us at our hiding as they were desperating
searching for food. they first sportted one of us as they were desperately
searching for food. they threatened an individual to show where the others
were hiding. The man who was asked to show our location was too slow in
answering the child soldier and so he was shot at.
We were all then captured, threatened to expose ECOMOG position.The elder
rebels as well as the child soldier began to beat us wiand the bottom of
One of the child solider (rebels)emphasized that we must be pushed out of
our hiding places to the compound and tied in groups so as to kill us all
in a body.
I brandished any school I.D. card and showed it to the child rebels. I
was in fright and so could not talk to anyone of the rebels. I later
desired their entire audience. rebels said they were not intrested in my
I.D. card or any school business. I implored that insted of my been killed
let them join their ranks.
They all refused and one of the rebels volluntered that he will take the
task of killing me.
By that time rebel who op ted to chop off my head had been attracted to
the spot where his colleagnes were busy burning houses and cars. Soon the
child rebel odered me to open my mouth to shoot in. I refused, scolded
him firmly up on his wrist. I was asked by his colleagues whether I
intended making a fight. During the scuffle the rebel child soldier I
scolded shot at me at my right jaw and I fell. By then our house was still
in flames. One of the child soldiers who initially over heard me pleading
to join them was unhappy because I pleaded but his colleagues could not
listen. He dragged me to a new location where I crept away from our
burning home rough the back door. The house collapsed under the pressure of
burning flames. I continued to bleed seriously and made desperate attempts
to crawl pass the flames into the streets and a search for safer zones. I
stumbled at a place called K'-Step', where I passed the night in horrible
At dawn my head became more swollen and I felt weak to move any further. I
managed to move and a bit to 'Congo Town' where I was lucky to meet with my
They placed me in a push cart since there was no vehicle and we headed for
the hospital. There were corpses all around, litred in the Cannaught
Hospital and the place was stinking. ECOMOG had regained their strength and
there was no fear any longer but the damage of lives and property was so
visible that I thought nothing was actually accomplished. Yet we have been
rescued in pain and at the point of death. The Red Cross officials could
give me only dry first aids with no medicines. Not out of wickedness but it
sounds they have ran out of drugs.
Thanks to a kind man, Dr Boima who single handedly helped me with a drip and
prevented the blood to continue oozing from my head. dr Boima X-rayed my
head and noticed that their was a bullet hiding in. My neck was put on POP
because for weeks it became unsteady. My relatives and others who visited me
feared I will not survive. I was later transferred to the ICRC office where
war victims were treated. I was there for three months and they removed the
bullets from my spinal cord that was detected by Dr Boima's X-ray. Although
I recovered gradually, I am still suffering from Persistent head aches and
have not been able to go to school for the past three years. I can even not
open my mouth as I used to in the natural way or to its normal size after
the child combatants (rebels) and their elders attacked. When the sun is hot
I often loose my eye-sight and psycho. Up till now, I cannot forget my
ordeals. when I sit down alone I feel frightened that I am being chased.
When I see smaller boys playing with toy guns, I catch cold and even
I can no more play football or excersise with friends. My health is no
longer the same. I cannot read for even 25 minutes or else my neck will ache
I appeal for help and continue to ask for assistance here in Sierra Leone
but to no avail. I want some body to take me away from this setting so that
I will not even see these ex-child compatants who have damaged my life. I
want a setting where there is love, peace and hamony. When I sleep I dream
of the violence and when I awake I see it as if it has occured again and my
health deteriorates. That is the consequence!