EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Readers, the below is the second post of a three-part series on the moral economy of resource extraction, with its attendant violent commodification of people’s lives. In order to probe some of the issues raised in part-one, our interview with Danny Hoffman, CIHA Blog editorial assistant Ben Cox interviews Mohamed Tarawalley about his experiences during the recent conflict in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the state of humanitarian aid, and his collaboration with Hoffman. Mohamed Tarawalley is former General of the Civil Defense Forces in Sierra Leone and founder of Action for Poverty Mitigation in the Third World (APM3) and West African Youth Agenda Against Corrupt Practices (WAYAACP). We are grateful that he could join us from Monrovia, Liberia.
Ben Cox (BC): Could you speak a little about yourself and your experience in the conflict in Sierra Leone and Liberia?
Mohamed Tarawalley (MT): I am Sierra Leonean and hail from Kailahun District in the eastern part of the country from a town called Jojoima in the Malema Chiefdom. I am the first male born child of my parents. I am 40 years now, born in 1972 on 19 January. I was schooled in Sierra Leone up through the Sixth Form, but my university education was disrupted by the rebellion.
With respect to the conflict in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in which I participated from the beginning to the end, I look at most of the humanitarian ventures, especially the DDR Program [Demobilization and Reintegration Program], as a partial failure. The DDR Program was designed from outside, was exported from outside, and got into this area and was just forced down the throats of people. The people were forced to pick it up because there were no other alternatives. And the real people – the real actors – were not given the chance to contribute ideas on how the program should work or what we might need. The conditions that led to the war during that time are still very much visible and alive here now — we are on a time bomb in these areas. If you come here one day, you will understand what I mean. Continue reading