Sierra Leone’s Protracted Unrest May Trigger Past Civil Strife Memories: Catholic Priest

Credit: Fr. Peter Konteh

The Executive Director of Caritas Freetown in Sierra Leone has condemned the ongoing protests in the West African country, and expressed concern that the situation of unrest in the West African country may trigger memories of a civil war that everyone wishes to forget.

In a message that Fr. Peter Konteh shared with ACI Africa on August 13, the Catholic Priest said that Sierra Leoneans are uncertain of their future amid a curfew that the government has imposed to tame protesters in the country.

“I am writing to share with you an update on the situation in Freetown; we are in an uncertain circumstance and would like to keep you updated on the current situation in Sierra Leone,” Fr. Konteh said. 

He added, “No one should trigger our memories concerning where we came from because they are not anything to smile about. We are not going back where we came from. Our children cannot and will not go back where we came from. This is intolerable, deplorable, unacceptable, and reprehensible.”

Protests erupted in Sierra Leone on August 8 and have reportedly led to the deaths of six police officers and at least 21 civilians.


Sources told Reuters the protests were driven by frustration with the worsening economic situation and a perceived failure by the government to cushion the impact of rising prices.

Fr. Konteh told ACI Africa that the whole of last week, starting August 8, was a challenging one. He added, “We have heard semblance of threats and that caused many vehicles not to ply the varied routes, which caused people to suffer and even limited many from going about their normal business.”

“There have been several audios on social media where people have been threatening to protest and some threatened violence,” the Catholic Priest said, and added, “Sadly, Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 were sit-at-home demonstrations and on Wednesday 10 they planned to come out, which they did in a riotous way.”

The member of the Clergy of Freetown Archdiocese told ACI Africa that protesters are complaining of the hardship in the country and demanding that the democratically elected President leaves office.

“Panic and horror are holding people to ransom because of the violent clash between the protesters and the police on 10 August; many are staying home now observing the situation. Even when the stay at home is posing another risk of hunger as many did not prepare for the number of days this is taking now,” he said. 

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Fr. Konteh said that the government has issued a daily curfew starting at 7 p.m. and ending at 7 a.m. in order to manage the ongoing protests.

Security forces have also been deployed to boost the public confidence that the situation is under control, the Caritas Freetown Executive Director said.

He condemned the nature of the ongoing unrest in the streets of Sierra Leone, saying, “Peaceful protest is constitutionally covered and I support anything that the constitution guarantees but I condemn mass looting and vandalism of shops, government properties, attacking state authorities, belligerence, intolerance, harassment, and any form of violence or harmful cultural practices.”

“This is not who we are. Any violent protest should be resisted fully according to the provisions of the law and perpetrators must be brought to book,” the Caritas official told ACI Africa. 

He noted that Sierra Leoneans have suffered immensely from civil unrest, and underlined the need to tame the building violence in the West African country.


“We are tired of being called refugees. We are tired of seeing properties our parents worked all their lives to save going down the drain. We are tired of losing our brothers and sisters to a senseless course. We are tired of being treated like dogs in other countries simply because our countrymen cannot put their differences aside and work together for a peaceful resolution,” Fr. Konteh said.

He added, “We kindly ask you to keep us in prayers as we remain hopeful here that by the following week things will return to normalcy; but we will be observing.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.