Exploring sierra leone The country in conflict behind a long way gone
What’s a memoir, anyways? • A memoir is very much like an autobiography (that is, a book about a person, written by the person), except that: • Rather than the story spanning a person’s lifetime, it focuses on an event or time in the author’s life that shaped his or her personality. • The narrative is not as rigid as an autobiography, which is typically chronological (in order from birth to old age).
Your task • You will be tasked with recording notes from one of the four topics we will cover in this slide show. Your group will exchange information at the end. • Green- Geographical Context • Yellow- Cultural Context • Blue- Political Context • Red- Youth Voice • 2. You will individually write a one page memoir from the voice of a teenager in Sierra Leone.
Geographical context Green, that’s you
Where In the world is sierra leone? Riiight here, on the west coast of Africa. That’s the Atlantic Ocean.
Statistics & need to know’s • Capital City: Freetown • Population: ~6.3 million (2008 estimate) • Area: 27,699 sq. mi. (about the size of West Virginia) • Official Language: English, Krio (a mix of English and African languages) • Religion: Muslim (60%) • Sierra Leone translates to mean “Lion Mountains” in English • Literacy Rate: 31% • Natural Resources: Diamonds, Titanium, Bauxite (aluminum ore), Gold • Divided into four geographical regions: North, South, East, and West Provinces • Climate: Tropical, Two seasons (wet and dry)
Cultural context Yellow, you’re up
agriculture • Rice is a staple of the Sierra Leonean diet, and is consumed at almost every meal. • Other popular items include: • Potato Leaves • Cassava leaves and root • Hot peppers • Peanuts • Tomatoes • Beans • Okra • Fish • Beef • Chicken • Eggplant • Street vendors sell fresh fruit • Poyo (palm wine)
Art as a release • My Democratic Pie • It is my democratic right, is it not,ere my last grain of life is lostto think, say and do my desired lot • What should I care if your millions dieI will have and eat my democratic pie. • Nations will I topple in the name of democracytheir indigenes foreverdoomed to share collective bankruptcy • Burn bright flame of a democratI care not for the rat • Yours the better to destroythis ambition I will buildfie! the follies of fools: thwart not my ploy • Success comes to those fair of skin : who darenot to those who fear • To the depths of Hades goes the plutocratAnd support me you must,minion of a democrat! • - Alex Dove Bangura Art is a therapeutic agent, this is understood by all cultures around the world. Sierra Leone in no exception. Artists release their feeling of anger, hopelessness, loss, hope, happiness, etc. through: Poetry Art Writing Song Film Dance
Rap/hip hop • American Rap and Hip Hop is incredibly popular amongst Sierra Leonean teenagers. • Performing and writing lyrics is an outlet for those affected by poverty and war. • Can help provide a sense of purpose and a source of power • Refugee All Stars
Political context Blue, that’s you
A little bit of history • An important center of the Transatlantic trade route until March 11, 1792 • Was to serve as the home of freed slaves (hence, Freetown) from the British Empire. The indigenous and freed slaves did not integrate well. • Independence from the UK: April 27, 1961 • Ruling government quickly becomes corrupt, profiting from the diamond trade, while the rest of the country lives in poverty • The RUF (Revolutionary United Front) formed soon after, and civil war ravaged the country from 1991 until 1999, when world leaders intervened and the Lome Peace Treaty was signed. • Over 50,000 people have been killed, and over a million displaced by the civil war.
Youth voice Red…Oh hey
Child soldiers How does this happen?
Youth voices • "I feel so bad about the things that I did. It disturbs me so much that I inflicted death on other people. When I go home I must do some traditional rites because I have killed. I must perform these rites and cleanse myself. I still dream about the boy from my village that I killed. I see him in my dreams, and he is talking to me, saying I killed him for nothing, and I am crying." A 16-year-old girl after demobilization from an armed group (Source: U.S. State Dept. TIP Report 2005) • "When they came to my village, they asked my older brother whether he was ready to join the militia. He was just 17 and he said no; they shot him in the head. Then they asked me if I was ready to sign, so what could I do - I didn't want to die." A former child soldier taken when he was 13. • "Being new, I couldn't perform the very difficult exercises properly and so I was beaten every morning. Two of my friends in the camp died because of the beatings. The soldiers buried them in the latrines. I am still thinking of them". (Former child soldier interviewed in 2002.)
Why children join the fight • Poverty • Lack of education • Loss of family members (orphaned) as a result of conflict, disease, starvation • For food and shelter • Promise of income • Desire for power, status, recognition • Family/Peer pressure • Girls: to escape domestic servitude, enforced marriage, or domestic violence • That is, if not they are not forced into fighting. Soldiers are brainwashed and given illicit drugs upon enlisting.
It’s go time Get ready
Now that that’s over… • Share the information you gathered with your group members. Discuss and share surprising facts, new ideas, different perspectives. (5-10 minutes)
Writing your memoir • Put yourself in the shoes of a teenager living in the conflict. Develop a narrator's voice and write a fictionalized memoir (no less than one page) from the point of view of a fictional teenager living in Sierra Leone during the conflict in the 1990's. • Are you male or female? • What is your name? • Where do you live? • What do you do for fun? • Make sure there is geographical, cultural, political, and youth voice facts. Weave the facts into the story in a smooth way.
What I’m grading on • An A paper: • Demonstrates excellent understanding of geography, culture, politics, and teenagers of Sierra Leone through no less than 1 detailed example for each. • Voice of character is fully developed and complex. • Memoir is mistake free and presented with style.