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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Charles Taylor: Sierra Leone’s Scapegoat
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
May 2, 2012, 17:17
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Many readers contacted me to enquire as to why I made little, if any, mention of the Charles Taylor trial at The Hague. My response has been simple. I will not join to twist History to suit those who would want History to be twisted. Charles Taylor is just a bogeyman; an excuse created by Sierra Leoneans’ inability to take responsibility for our mad actions against each other.

 

Taylor is the scapegoat who has been given omnipotent powers which deep in our hearts, we know is untrue. First of all, Charles Taylor would not have had impact here if some Sierra Leoneans (mostly from the South-East), had not used the aggrieved Taylor as a tool to help them destroy our country simply because they (Sierra Leoneans) were bitter with Momoh & Stevens APC regime.


Secondly, there is an untold story which our Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) failed to elicit. Charles Taylor, like his willing allies from South-Eastern Sierra Leone and Corporal Foday Sankoh, shared angry resentment of APC.

 

The story commences with an arrangement in late eighties for Liberian dissidents in America to use Sierra Leone soil to launch a rebellion against Samuel Doe, the then Liberian President. It received the tacit endorsement of then APC Government of President Momoh in Sierra Leone.

 

Taylor entered Sierra Leone with a huge cache of money in earlier part of 1989 but Charles Taylor was double-crossed by APC elements and locked up at the CID. It took intervention of prominent Liberians in exile in America to have him ‘released’. Some say he ‘escaped’ from police cells at CID. Taylor left Sierra Leone in 1989 with bitter experience - penniless.

 

With the assistance of his Liberian backers in America, he now launched their rebellion into Liberia, not from Sierra Leone as originally planned, but from Ivory Coast to unseat the brutal Samuel Doe regime.

 

In the process of carrying out his actions, the same APC Government which had double-crossed Charles Taylor, now allowed Sierra Leone to be used as a launching pad for ECOMOG to stop Taylor’s advance on Monrovia. APC also armed, sponsored, aided and abetted two groups of Liberians to assist ECOMOG to stop Taylor. They included ULIMO.

 

As a result, what should have been an easy unseatment of Samuel Doe became much more prolonged than initially planned and the suffering of Liberians took to unprecedented levels. Taylor, in understandable reaction, then threatens Sierra Leone that they will also taste the bitterness of war. The rest is History.

 

However, in the midst of all of this, the fact remains that no matter how bitter Charles Taylor might have been, he would never have been able to help RUF destroy Sierra Leone had it not been for our own kith and kin; mostly South-Easterners who bore grievances against the former APC regime. These people opened their doors to Taylor backed RUF. They are Sierra Leoneans.

 

So, whenever I hear people shouting and raging against Charles Taylor’s destruction of Sierra Leone, I simply shake my head at it all because the truth is that Taylor is just the Bogeyman taking the fall for something much deeper.

 

When Historians really do in-depth studies into the origins and processes of the Sierra Leone war, they will find out that unlike the superficial nonsense of Lans Gberie and his Blood Diamonds Theory, the war in Sierra Leone goes much deeper than just diamond sales to a despot.


With respect to his despicable actions in Liberia, Charles Taylor is clearly a War Criminal but when it comes to Sierra Leone, I will not join those who naively proclaim as if Taylor was the sole source and sole offender in our Sierra Leone madness. No, I will not.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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