A contribution for the Sierra Leone Peace Museum Memorial, as described by the artist:
“The contrasting forms of the mothers is to bring attention to the displaced, both internal and external. One mother running away and the other distraught with grief and staying fixed to one spot.”
The Sierra Leone Peace Museum opened its doors at the end of 2013, just over ten years after the end of Sierra Leone’s decade-long conflict. The Museum stands on the site of the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL) as a permanent national institution dedicated to preserving the truth, honouring the conflict’s many victims, and promoting lasting peace.
The Peace Museum includes a memorial to victims, an exhibit which documents and narrates the war’s history and the peace process, and an archive and law library containing an unparalleled collection of documents relating to the conflict, including the public records of the SCSL and of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Museum also serves as a training facility, continuing to strengthen the justice sector after the SCSL’s closure.
Stakeholders have designed the Sierra Leone Peace Museum with support from the United Nations Development Group and the SCSL. The committee of stakeholders includes the Government of Sierra Leone, the Human Rights Commission, the Monuments and Relics Commission, the National Museum, the National Archives, Advocacy Movement Network and the War Victims’ Association, and other civil society organizations.
The Museum’s exhibit will ensure that the events of the war itself are properly documented to preserve the integrity and authenticity of the country’s history. The exhibit will strengthen people’s understanding of the value of peace and monitor the ongoing process of reconciliation, helping to generate new knowledge and construct a better future.
An exhibition of original artifacts and interactive displays narrates the history of the conflict and of the peace process. Focus is placed on victims’ experiences through first-hand accounts collected by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Given the high rate of illiteracy in Sierra Leone, audio and visual material has been installed where possible and includes material produced by the Court for its outreach activities.
A narrative for the exhibition has been developed, war relic photos have been collected and given captions by the Sierra Leone Union of Photographers, and photos of war amputees have been collected around the country. The remaining tasks include collecting the names of the estimated 50,000 people who died in the war, and continuing to collect artifacts.
A mobile outreach team will travel throughout Sierra Leone, bringing special Peace Museum exhibitions to schools and communities. The Museum also plans to link up with historically significant sites around the country to preserve them and assist communities tell their part of the conflict’s story.
The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission noted the importance of memorials as a form of symbolic reparation to the conflict’s victims. The Sierra Leone Peace Museum Memorial Garden is a quiet space next to the Museum that honours those who suffered. The Peace Museum launched a public competition for the design of the memorial in 2011, and winners were announced in May of 2012. The Judges then created a final design which included the best features from the competition submissions.
Archives and Law Library:
The Museum’s archive provides a detailed and thorough resource for research into Sierra Leone’s conflict. Students, academics, journalists and the public will have access to many records, including the public records of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the National Commission for Disarament, Demobilization and Reintegration. The law library contains a paper and an electronic copy of the Court’s public records and the holdings of the SCSL library.
The SCSL conducted many training courses with national judicial institutions and generated training materials as a result. A multi-purpose room in the museum stores these materials and allows training courses to use them on-site so that the expertise of the Court’s staff continues to be transmitted to national institutions. The room can also be used for activities with school children visiting the museum and will double as an auditorium for cultural events, film screenings, and guest speakers.
Substantial effort is being made by many actors in Sierra Leone to enhance and entrench the respect for human rights within national culture and institutions. The Sierra Leone Peace Museum substantially contributes to this work. As a place of memory it has the responsibility to use the past to promote understanding of the present. Through exhibits, education, training and outreach, the Museum aims to advance the culture of human rights in Sierra Leone and to strengthen the capacity of the national judiciary to promote good governance and a just society.
Please read the UNDP Peacebuilding Fund project factsheet for more information.
*all images were contributions to the Memorial competition; descriptions can be found in the gallery.
Memorial Competition Contributions - View some of the memorial design competition submissions by Sierra Leonean contributors.
Walk for the Museum - On 26 November 2011 more than 200 people took to the streets of Freetown in support of the Peace Museum. Two teams marched from Lumley in the West and Upgun in the East for a tough walk in the sunshine to tell people about the Peace Museum. The group converged on the Peace Museum building on Jomo Kenyatta Road.
50th Anniversary of Independence Exhibition - For the 50th Anniversary of Independence, the Museum put on a temporary exhibition looking at other occasions when Sierra Leone had 'looked forward'. The exhibition included photos from Sierra Leone's history, video footage of the 1961 Independence celebrations and selected items from the 'National Vision'
International Peace Day, 21st September 2011 - For International Peace Day, the Museum hosted a celebration organized by AGEH and SLADEA. At the event, they announced the winners of the 'My vision for Peace in Sierra Leone - 50 years forward' competition. View a few of the best visions of Sierra Leone's future and photos of the event.