An evil man in Sierra Leone passed away after thousands were hacked to death – lest we forget

Rebel RUF leader - Foday Sankoh

Claudia Anthony (with additional content by the Sierra Leone Telegraph)

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 July 2017

On this glorious day fourteen years ago, a wicked and monstrous rebel war lord by the name of Foday Saybanah Sankoh died of pneumonia in the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

His celebrated end came at the Choithram Hospital in Freetown, on 29th of July 2003. Aged 65, Foday Saybanah Sankoh who led his country’s over ten-year-long brutal civil war, had been in detention since May 2000.

He had been arrested and took into detention after his bodyguards opened fire on a crowd of protesters, outside his Freetown residence killing about 20 people.

In 2002, Sankoh suffered a stroke that left him partly paralysed. He was indicted in March 2003, for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He was then transferred (turned over by Nigeria) to the custody of Sierra Leone’s Special Court on 29 July 1998, exactly five years before his death in Choithram Hospital in Freetown, on 29th of July 2003, aged 65.

The rebel war in Sierra Leon took the lives of over 100,000 people, with at least 5,000 innocent men, women and children amputated by drugged up child soldiers – recruited by and acting under the direct command of Foday Sankoh.

Sierra Leoneans are now preparing for their third, hopefully peaceful and democratic presidential and general elections on the 7th of March 2018.

The expectation is that the outcome of those elections will further strengthen the country’s democratic ideals – rather than see a return to dictatorship or military rule.

It is therefore essential that politicians from across the political divide show maximum restraint and tolerance for free speech. and freedom of association.

They must also refrain from using tribal or regional differences in their campaigns for votes, as such a strategy could lead to unintended and uncontrollable consequences, such as large scale civil disturbance and violence.

After the rebel war in 2001, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established, to conduct an inquiry into the causes of the war and the lessons that must be learnt.

It is now several years since the publication of the TRC report. Sadly, many of its recommendations have still not been accomplished: Violation of the rule of law and the flagrant abuse of power by those elected to serve the people continues; Chronic youth unemployment, abject poverty, corruption and poor governance are far from being tackled. Those were the seeds of the ten year long rebel war in Sierra Leone.

Editor’s Note

This article was written by Claudia Anthony, with additional content from the Sierra Leone Telegraph for wider publishing here.

Watch the last days of Foday Sankoh:


  1. The monstrosity committed by Foday Sankoh and his gang can never be fully explained or understood by any sane person.

    Only a person whose blood colour is not red and without a conscience can do what Foday Sancoh did.

    I would go so far as to describe him as the Adolf Hitler of Sierra Leone, although Hitler murdered more People than him – the latter particularly hated Jews, and he killed tens of millions of them.

    The one thing that both men had in common was their inability to know when to stop,a trait which in the end cost them their own lives.

    Sankoh’s history will never go away,we should refuse to let it go away, it should stand as a constant reminder as to how a whole nation can quickly collapse and become unlivable.

    If it happens to be a nation that is educationally, economically and technologically backward, as Sierra Leone is, recovery is almost impossible.

    Western Europe was able to recover after world war two because it had a highly technical labour force.

    The Germans,in particular, demonstrated this by becoming formidable economic competitors in no time at all.

    Even Joseph Stalin of Russia, whose troops came close to capturing Hitler alive, told a gathering towards the end of the war that the Germans would recover quickly because of their highly technical labour force.

    On the contrary,the Sierra Leone economy is still largely driven by donor funds,almost sixty years after independence from Britain – a serious indictment of our leaders.

    All the populace in Sierra Leone experience is a stagnant economy with hardly any opportunities for anybody below the political elite.

    Successive leaders quite simply regard the country’s huge deposits of natural resources as their personal property,a phenomenon which assumed monumental proportions during the Siaka Stevens era and has not abated.

    It was during the Stevens era that everything positive about our dear country took a downward trend.

    Medical,educational and other facilities were destroyed,causing palpable anger and frustration among the people.

    In the political arena opponents were eliminated by way of executions, imprisonment or forced exile.

    Foday Sancoh fell under the category of those sent to jail for a considerable period after having been booted out of the army.

    He bore a constant grudge against A.P.C. And so when the opportunity presented itself to revenge he was blinded by rage.Patriotism meant nothing to him.

    Herein lies the lesson that political vindictiveness has potential gruesome lessons for a nation.

    Had Siaka Stevens not allowed politics to infiltrate the army and all spheres of life in the country Foday Sankoh would never have surfaced.

    But has the lesson been learned by our politicians and the rest of us.

    March 2018 is the test. Personally I long for the defeat of A.P.C. and S.L.P.P. at the polls.

    Alternatively, they should be so weakened that they won’t be able to form a government on their own.

    All they they do is play ethnic/tribal politics and cause divisions in the nation.

    May Foday Sancoh end up on the opposite side of heaven together with his field commander – Maskitta.

  2. “The senseless rebel war in Sierra Leone must serve as a lesson for all. That war was well calculated and executed by big hands at the time within SLPP to dislodge the APC led government because they had been in power for long.”-Davies koroma

    One thing that is on record and not in dispute is that 5 persons went to Benghazi Libya to undergo Military training in the 80s to return home and fight the then rotten APC government. These persons were Abu Mansaray, Rashid Kanu, Foday Sankoh, Abu Bakarr Sankoh and Mike Lamin.

    In Libya (it is alleged that) they met other former disgruntled students like Alie Kabba who had been expelled from University because of their opposition to the APC misrule. Most of these student ended up not undergoing the military training while Sankoh and the four others did. They returned and lunched the RUF war in 1991.

    This information can be found both in the TRC Report and Special Court Achives. And besides, it is a public knowledge. I do not know when Abu Mansaray, Rashid Kanu, Abu Bakarr Sankoh and Foday Sankoh all from Port Loko and Tonkolili districts became SLPP stooges to go risk their live for the SLPP.

    Until we accept the root causes of what brought the war in the first place, we will keep on repeating the same mistake as it is happening now in our country.

  3. The senseless rebel war in Sierra Leone must serve as a lesson for all. That war was well calculated and executed by big hands at the time within SLPP to dislodge the APC led government because they had been in power for long.

    Their intention for the country was not good. Sierra Leoneans celebrated the uprising, thats why God Almighty allowed us to pay the price. Look at what is happening within the SLPP party, the God of the people of Sierra Leone has placed a curse on SLPP for the woes and tribulations they have brought on Sierra Leoneans.

    Sierra Leoneans should be very conscious not to bring those revengeful vampires into governance come 2018.

  4. Lest we forget – the reasons for the carnage in Sierra Leone are still there.

    We look helplessly as senior rebels (civil servants and elected officials) in Sierra Leone amputate the livelihood of the innocent people of Sierra Leone with the stroke of a pen.

    Signing away the future of generations yet unborn to foreigners. May God have mercy on us all, for failing to stand up and shout for the truth.

  5. Was Foday Sankoh born wicked or he was made wicked by the same system that we as Sierra Leoneons are celebrating today?

    Sankoh was a young man who sacrificed his life to serve Sierra Leone in the Army. Despite his limited formal education he made an effort to study Telecommunication in the army.

    In 1973, the corrupt, elected and paid politicians together with a corrupt judicial system cut off Sankoh’s military career by falsely accusing him that he had joined his brothers from Tonkolili (The Fornahs and Taqis to overthrow the APC government of Siaka Stevens)

    As a young man left with no employment, Sankoh was left to scavenge in the border district of Kailahun in order to escape another barbaric regime.

    The APC regime of Siaka Stevens and General Momoh sent so many Sierra Leoneans to their early demise, while the same Sierra Leoneans danced and celebrated them.

    I think these were the wicked Sierra Leoneans because no condition made them do what they did other greed and wickedness.

    When Foday Sankoh launched his RUF revolution in 1991, many of us whose areas were overrun by Sankoh’s RUF knew that unlike the RUF, the SLA of Momoh took no prisoners. Every young man who was accused as a collaborator was killed and mutilated.

    Soldiers would drive to big towns and cities that were far removed from the front line with decapitated heads and body parts tied to their military vehicles. Nobody including Momoh and his Generals at Cockerill and Parliamentarians said anything.

    Rather we were applauding the success of the Army at the front lines. What many people especially in Freetown did not know was that most of those who were killed were captured in areas that the RUF had retreated from. The RUF subsequently learned not to take prisoners from the SLA. This trend continued under the NPRC and SLPP government that came after the APC.

    The picture of that man shown above is another example of things committed by the soldiers that was blamed on the RUF of Sankoh. I am not saying that the RUF did not commit atrocities. In fact they committed so many especially as their revolution extended far beyond what they had envisaged.

    But the first amputation to occur in Sierra Leone was committed by the SLA in 1991 when a so-called RUF collaborator was amputated and a letter meant for Sankoh hanged around his neck. Of Course the young man died at Mendekema after Jawi Chiefdom in the Kailahun district.

    Unfortunately, none of those atrocities made it into the APC controlled papers in Freetown, and at that time the international press were not interested in our war.

    Again to the amputated man shown above in this article, he used to work at Customs at the Queen Elizabeth Quay in Freetown. He was a custom guard. He was amputated in 1999 when the AFRC were retreating from Freetown. The RUF played a minimal role in the January 6 Freetown invasion.

    So like him, the many that were amputated in Freetown were amputated by renegade soldiers that formed the AFRC. Surprisingly, the same AFRC soldiers were celebrated by many Sierra Leoneans especially in Freetown. As a matter of fact many pen pushers of the current ruling government lambasted the Tejan Kabba government for disbanding such an indisciplined military outfit.

    The TRC that was set up after the war was a white wash. Its purpose was hijacked by the same greedy politicians many of whom are in the current government. Sierra Leone celebrated the likes of Victor Foh and now President Koroma when they testified before the TRC stating that problems of Sierra Leone started when the NPRC overthrew the APC.

    Sankoh’s revolution was hijacked and made to look bad as it turned out to be. What a world we live in?

    • Mr Conteh, I’m amazed at your analysis of the Sierra Leone civil war historical facts. But it’s so sad that many of our Sierra Leonean people seem to have no mind of their own to compile their own information and history, other than accepting the western lies about our society that they have been telling for hundreds of years.

      During the special court hearing, nearly all the blame for the Sierra Leone civil war was cast on the Liberia war lord Charles Taylor, leaving little room in the country for those who committed those brutal crimes to be held responsible, just because that’s what the western nations wanted to see.

      Yet, when the Sierra Leone war started in the early 1990s many Sierra Leoneans used to applause Foday Sankoh, “saying without war, there will be no development”.

      Even though the Sierra Leone government and its western supporters managed to sell the idea to the common Sierra Leoneans that the Liberian Taylor was the mastermind for the killing and cutting of hands in Sierra Leone, the high number of amputated people in the country can’t be found in Liberia, which is the country where Taylor lived and breath life into his own civil war.

      The reason for that is clear. In reality, Taylor is not regarded as a rebel or war lord as he is blackmailed by the western political leaders. He is a freedom fighter just like Foday Sankoh. If for some reason he wanted you to die, they just kill you and forget about that.

      He was the only person able to stand and challenge the late Samuel Doe for his brutality against his own country men and women including children. However, it’s said that when two elephants are fighting, the innocent grass beneath their feet suffered the most. Our people in those two countries suffered the most because of the greed of our political leaders, those same people who used to sing hosanna hosanna to Foday Sankoh.

      As we are reading this information, Taylor is in prison because of crimes it’s said he committed in Sierra Leone, and not because of what he did in his own country Liberia. Why is this?

      My simplest answer is that the Sierra Leone political system that instigated the war in the first place is still hiding behind a mask in order for someone else to be blamed. In Liberia, Taylor has never been put on trial, neither did any of the other so called war lords.

      This is because Liberia realised that every aspect of the society was one way or the other involved in the war. They realised that casting blame on few individuals will not solve the problem, instead we all need to reconcile.

      Even though it was Taylor who planted the seed of the war in the country, nearly everyone else took advantage of the situation just as it happened in Sierra Leone, but sadly, Sierra Leoneans believed that it’s the Liberians who brought war into their country and therefore, it’s their so called war lord who need to be punished while the same reasons which triggered the civil wars in both countries haven’t yet been addressed by our leaders in the country.

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