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NEWS : Local News  

Eleven Years Later, The Pain is Still Severe
By Unisa Dizo-Conteh
Feb 10, 2009, 17:24
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Today 10 February, marks 11 years since Morlai Dizo-Conteh, together with his cousin Mariatu and Aunty Nancy, were brutally murdered in a bombing raid during Sierra Leones war.  Even though it is more than a decade ago, the memories of this day evoke an anger that runs very deep in my heart.  The horror of that day is still fresh. 

Morlai Dizo-Conteh


I was there, when all hell broke loose.  A usually lively house became motionless.  For more than a few minutes, the chickens did not crow, the trees did not shake, the lizards did not move, the birds did not fly and humans did not speak.    


A bomb had just landed in our courtyard.  I heard it coming, as did many other people in the immediate vicinity.  The air was quickly engulfed with thick dark smoke, filled with dust and particles. 


A few minutes later, there was another explosion.  I heard this one too, while running to escape from the scene.  Running and not knowing fully what was left behind me.  But I knew my house had been a target of the explosions. 


News of the full extent of the disaster quickly followed.  I arrived at one of my auntys house after running a few miles.  A few minutes later, someone brought the sad news that Morlai, Mariatu and Nancy died in one of the explosions.  At that very moment, a part of me died!  A chill sank rapidly into my spine and automatically overcame my whole body.    


Worse of all was the fact that Morlai died knowing his passing was inevitable.

U nar help me, I dae die!!, he cried, while running round and round seeking help after his heart was pierced by shrapnel..


Morlais life was cut short.  His promising future never materialised.  In school, he was bright and dedicated.  He was always smartly dressed.  Morlai acquired outstanding grades that were a testimony of his perseverance to succeed.   


His brightness and dedication paid off in many other ways too.  He was crowned Senior Prefect in the Methodist Boys High School (MBHS).  His friends honoured him with huge titles such as Great man.


Recently, I was on the bus on my way to work, reminiscing the days that I shared with him.  In our many play fights, he was lenient and entertaining.  But one day, after spending couple of weeks in the gym and in a martial arts school, I illogically took a real fight to him.  He swiftly restrained me even though I thought I could overcome him easily.  It was then that I realised you do not challenge your elder brother.


We also used to have our own self-styled Russian language, which Morlai and I spoke and no one else would understand.  Some of the words were borrowed from Russian books our dad brought from the former USSR, while others were deliberately made up, using jargons and classified for our use only.  At the end of the day, we would laugh as our friends, astonished by our little trick, would agree we were actually from Russia and we speak like the Russians.        


Morlais dream was to become a lawyer so that he could make a difference to society by fighting to defend human rights and to do what ever was necessary to promote social justice for all.


While I still struggle to put this tragic past in the past, I hope you would join me, at this moment, in holding a minutes silence, not only in honour of Morlai, but for the deaths of so many, whose lives were cut short in the civil war in Sierra Leone. 

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

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