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A telecollaborative Project Between iEARN-Canada & iEARN-Sierra Leone


Our writings section features stories addressing the issue of ChildSoldiers written by youth in Sierra Leone


By: Andrew Benson Greene Jr, Coordinator, iEARN Sierra Leone

I huddled over patches of human blood that has formed a pool right in front of Papa's little dented thatched house. The scorcher, was that glowing march sun that has began to melt the thick spillage of blood like butter over the fire. Fresh from my hiding nook, it did not strike my confused mind that the pool of blood was a costly contribution of all the people I cherished in life.

The sun's rays that sprang from above stretched its claws indiscriminately upon everything, everything my ravaged village could show. In almost every sunset, I imagined real darkness. The only thing that separated these two advertisers of nature's day and night, was that the darkness of the day, had its camouflaging rays whilst the darkness of night maintained its normal dark, true colour of gloom. Yet, in these two darkness, the incessant rain of gunshots, were of the same heavy down-pour.

For the entire gun-raining night, I wrestled with unconsciousness. When I overcame her the next morning, he became truely apologetic to have kept me unaware of my impending woes. But it were better for unconsciousness to have maintained its masculine fibre, and out-beat me for good, instead of me championing him and face the gloom reality. I then spotted every member of my family lay strewn to the ground, right infront of our mud-built abode. The ignition to burst into tears was yet too cold in my system. Out of shock, an agape mouth, plus series of shudderings atoned for my lack of expressing my bereavement in the form of a clanging cry. First came the horrid sight of my younger brother's hands, hacked and dismembered from his body. Two little twisted hands, wrung and flung in the far corner of the veranda, as if it has done an abominable wrong. as though the rebels begrudged those little hands that were always in motion, sweeping and tidying up our big compound, fastidiously picking the sweet fruits from the guava tree. Soon, more and more ungainly spectacles came in view, torturing my sight. Next, I spotted Papa's chopped ears, aloof from his bulleted forehead. That head that used to pump sweat after a diurnal day's labour for the household's daily bread, now pumped blood profusely than all the sweating it has done in the world. In Mama's wide-open mouth, I could imagine the last warnings that sprang from it just yesterday. 'Becky' she called me, 'please do not forget to take the mortar and the pestle back into the store after pounding the husked rice okay?' The strange, cruel, and unwelcome visitors that pounced upon our village that very morning, prevented me from carrying out Mama's instructions. Close to the corpses of my loved ones, the house-hold paraphenelias dotted everywhere, now lifeless as Mama who once yielded them. It would be grossly improper to lift a mortar and a pessle when mortals lay still and motionless.

I stooped to pick up my younger brother's twisted little hands. At this point, my hands stiffened about an inch away from his damaged body as if the resuscitation of fear has casted a spell upon my hands. When the monotony of such dismal scenes casted fear at bay, I flopped down on my knees, gathered the mangled limbs and placed them beside the blood-drenched head. The narrow forehead that I had often scrubbed till the soap lathered and its white froth changed to mustard yellowish- brown. I would continue to scrub on Mama's instructions. Mama will say, 'scrub him more severely' for she thought such scrubbing would be a deterrent for my younger brother's bespattering in the mud. I will scrub, and rub and wash, till the brown froth is rinced away. I wish the thick blood upon his forehead, were only the mud and his tiny set mouth will plead for me to lesson the scrubbing.

I was revisited by a sudden grief, and the first salty drop of compassion wetted my eyes till it whetted my appetite for shedding more tears. I then took his tiny body in both hands whilst his dismembered hands, lay trapped between my bent neck and left shoulder. I then raised his body gently, aloft upon my right shoulder and carted him into the house like a new hero. I did the same for my parents until the deceased trio was carefully placed in Papa's sleeping room, hoping that some relations of ours shall someday come across their bones and bury them at least. I had no time to perform a fitting ritual now. All I had time to do was simply wrap Mama's white 'lappa' around them until my beloved kin were enshrouded in the white clothe that Mama often wore to church. I hurriedly shut the door behind me and instantly realised that I have been forever shut-off from their world, the incomprehensible unknown world of the dead; the quietude of that sombre world.

Whispers of gunshots eavesdropped in my ears that those who fed on havoc were not yet sufficiently satisfied of their atrocities. I docked to the floor and creepped to next room where I hoped the wandering bullets would never discover me.

The mud-bricked house, riddled with bullet holes on all sides, provided me with a spying device. I then gradually began to peep through one of the hollows designed by the way-word bullets. Soon, I discovered to my discomfort that the gunshots that I heard moments ago were the harbinger of masked faces.

When I got their bearings clearer, just as they drew nearer, I again noticed that there heads were tied with a previously white, but now, red head bands that was the result of a thorough immersion in human blood. I realised that their charcoal painted faces interpreted gruesome stories of death and massacre. The gang stopped in front of my house as though they have breathed one more soul to devour. I shot my eyes instead of moving it away from the pinhole that has served as a reliable spying device. All my acts and gestures and thoughts now were prayerful. I began mumbling prayers to myself that I hoped would tempt the heartless gang of rebels away. I then started to open my eyes gradually, gradually, like one who has dipped his face in lukewarm salty water to remove the irritating sand in the eyes, but a little hesitant, lest the peppery of burns be felt again. Like a stubborn vision, the gang of rebels then lingered. They pointed fingers at my house now instead of rifles. I was fearful of the fact that their masked faces had the magic of seeing through the house. I then felt trapped. I made up my mind,and sauntered towards them,instead of they striding towards me, albeit, with heavy hearthrobs. As I started to work with stiffened steps towards the door, my shivering feet and disjointed steps, rattled at every step. Then suddenly, one of the rebels guessed someone was still lurked behind one of the shattered rooms.They nodded in affirmation as if they have all to one cruel conviction. A gruffy voice rang..."come out of the house you... Becky! get out right now or if found you will be thouroughly raped and killed." More husky voices repeated this verdict. I stopped moving abruptly, not out of fear this time, but shocked and bemused to hear such hoarse voices pronounce my name. I wondered how they could have known it. Groomed for death already, I knew I must face it with eyes tightly shut, and breast projected to make the bullets travel easily. I made this deadly preparations, opened the door and waited. I heard a voic, sharper than the sword that pierced Papa's ears.' No shooting' the voice commanded. Yet a shot came aiming at me but missed my head an inch or two away. Almost simultaneously, another shooting trailed the first which did not miss the defiant rebel who attempted to get rid of me. I realise that the teenage rebel who gave commands was the commando leader. He then crave the permission of the rest to kill me single-handedly away in the thicket of the bush, as though there was a kind of pleasure derived from killing me that he did not wish to share with the rest. The others allowed him to gratify himself . They leaped to their feet, hooted and raised their guns skywards in revels and approval. Instantly, my 'lappa' was stripped off my waist to chain my hands and feet, as though I might stray away if they fail to fetter me. My ripened feminish features of adolescence now exposed to the sordid expectation of rape.

As daylight loosened its firm grip on the lifeless and the living alike, along the path we took for our undoing, twilight merely mimicked her predecessor. It portrayed the leaves as having stood on edge like the scattered hair upon my head. I felt dizzy with fear when his scrubby little hands began to play with my bare breast. He pulled me to the side of the stream and left me half- naked, lying on the grass. He squatted on the side of the flowing stream and dipped his bloody hands into it . Soon, the clean, glassy stream immediately turned into a dark opaque flow of filth and blood. He waited till the dark stream has regained its clearness, and again disturbed its natural whiteness by throwing the sword that he has unhitched from a sheathe by his side and threw it in the farthest part of the stream. With his back still turned towards me, I noticed that he has untied the headband that has been masking his face and lend him a terrifying bearing. He deposited the bloodstained scalf into the stream and observed the same result of a thick flow of blood. It seemed as if the blood that was right in front of my deserted house has been scooped into the stream all of a sudden. He again waited till the untidy red dark colour has been swept away by the over-powering tide of water. He began to gradually wash his body, starting with his dark face. Throughout all this ritual of cleansing, I lay motionless, shivering in the cold cloudy dusk. He hoisted himself from his stooping position, and turned round with a grin. I recognised his face at once. With a stuttering low voice, I cried out his name; "Sammy"! Sammy instantly knelt down with his eyes pleading. "Yes Becky, it's me Sammy". I recalled immediately how he used to play 'stone-ball' at our village school. He wooed me once or twice then in that childish playful way but I had turned him down on every try. He disappeared since our school was attacked. He threw his gun away and in a condescending tone that was no longer tinged with barbarism, expressing sorrow for all he has done. "With your help alone Becky, I will abandon the rebel movement. I have harmed my family, your family, and those of my friends." I encouraged him to do just that. "We better find a hide out and keep out of the way or else the gang will find us and that will be the bane of our lives ", I suggested. He nodded gently as he untied my hands and feet. He said he longed to live a new life, away with me. "Becky, I wish to marry you". There was palpable sincerity in his tone of voice. I needed days to be orientated to such a life of trotting through narrow paths of twigs and thorns. He waited for an answer, but I said nothing, waiting and hoping that silence could relieve me of my troubles, and whispered to him what ingrained in my mind. Yet I could look straight into his eyes for they were not the fires that I saw earlier in the day.

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