Sierra Leone suffered a brutal decade long civil war between 1991 and 2002. At the wake of the civil war there were child soldiers, mass rapes, torture, cutting of limbs and up to 300 000 people killed. The main actor in the civil war was a populist demagogue named Foday Sankoh who started the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) to fight the corruption of the extremely corrupt elite. According to some reports, “(a)t first, the RUF was popular with Sierra Leoneans, many of whom resented a Freetown elite seen as corrupt and looked forward to promised free education and health care and equitable sharing of diamond revenues”.
RUF struck a chord with the marginalised youth of Sierra Leone. Its slogan was; “No More Slaves, No More Masters. Power and Wealth to the People.” The same message we see in South Africa today which says, “Economic Freedom in our life time”. But instead of ending slavery and bringing about economic freedom, RUF brought brutal naked slavery and violence as its leaders turned away from the revolution into thugs who were only interested in the good life and killing for diamonds. Foday Sankoh was a demagogue who was populist and blood thirsty. He even had senior members of his party, who questioned the cruel methods it used in pursuing its aims, killed.
The RUF was very effective in its mobilization at the beginning. It identified the youth who had been left out completely from the economic life of the nation and a generation who had no education at all. Furthmore, Sankoh realised that the refugees in neighbhouring Liberia could serve as a recruitment ground. In this context he said that, “(t)his displaced population, composed almost entirely of children, would prove to be an invaluable asset to the invading rebel armies because the refugee and detention centers, populated first by displaced Liberians and later by Sierra Leoneans, helped provide the manpower for the RUF’s insurgency”.
Sankoh took advantage of the refugees who were mostly starving and had medical needs. He promised them food, shelter and medical care if they provided support. When this method later failed, because the promises never materialised despite Sankoh capturing rich diamond fields, RUF embarked on criminal activities kidnaping and creating child soldiers. These children were forced into committing atrocities against their own people. They consequently feared to return to their home and continued to fight for RUF. They were given complete authority to inflict as much inhuman acts as possible in the interests of RUF. Sankoh needed his diamonds and power at all costs.
RUF needed a rich friend at the beginning and Charles Taylor of Liberia stepped in – just like in South Africa where one of the richest men in the country, Johhan Rupert, is seen stepping in the regime change process. Guns were procured and money was made. The people suffered.
It is important to note that in South Africa today there exists conditions for a civil war similar to the one seen in Sierra Leone. A vast number of young blacks are excluded and in despair. They are a ready made army for any demagogue who promises a better life and economic freedom. The ruling party has failed to take care of these multitudes who are now available to any demagogue. The calls for arms by the EFF and the random brutalisation of black people as seen after their leaders were kicked out of parliament indicates that it can easily slot into the RUF mode.
It was Thomas Sankara who warned that a soldier without political education is a potential criminal. This is the truth faced by our nation. The youth who are being lured by the message of “this is your last chance” and “economic freedom in our life time”, are not being given political education. They are merely transported from one stadium to another, given rhetoric about revolution and instigated against fellow black people. If these young people are not quickly rescued and given revolutionary political education they are likely to fight for their leaders and leave the status quo intact.
South Africa has been earmarked for a new imperialist take over driven from within the ANC by neo-liberal leaders like Trevor Manuel, who is also a representative of the global banking cartel the Rothchilds, and Pravin Gordhan. Imperialism’s preferred presidential candidate is Cyril Ramaphosa who has already shown allegiance to white capital by instigating the Marikana massacre. Outside the ANC the imperialist forces are working with the opposition parties. If these groups don’t get their way, with backing of imperialism, they will certainly consider armed conflict . EFF by random violence against blacks shows its willingness to play the role of the RUF.
The media is already playing a big role in creating the environment where blacks are instigated to fight against each other. Zuma and the Guptas are being presented as the enemy whilst white monopoly capital and land thieves are left alone. The excluded youth are being couched to think that the real enemy is not white capital but Zuma and other blacks.
Only a return to black consciousness and political education of the youth can turn the focus back to the real enemy which is white capital and the land thieves like Johann Rupert.