Champion of Peace: Fambul Tok

It can be difficult to forge peace with your best friend if he hurts you and kills your father. But that is exactly what Sahr did: forgave his friend Nyumah, in an attempt to restore their friendship. 

It was all possible when the friends, who were torn apart during the war in Sierra Leone, came together as part of Fambul Tok (Family Talk), a “face-to-face community-owned program bringing perpetrators and victims of violence in Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war through ceremonies rooted in local traditions of the villages.”

It is built upon Sierra Leone’s tradition of “family talk” where issues are discussed and resolved within a trusted circle. The program not just helps individuals forgive each other: it actively participates in the healing and community building process as well. Truth telling bonfires and cleansing ceremonies help the communities heal within their own cultural framework, working through issues as they had been doing in days past.

The program was first implemented by Forum of Conscience, a Sierra Leonian human rights organization and Catalyst for Peace, a U.S.-based foundation.

Stories like that of the two boys abound.Two warring factions of a village torn apart by the war have come together to start farming together again. A mother has forgiven a man for killing her baby years ago. Thousands of people have found a voice leading to peace during these voluntary Fambul Tok sessions, helping them get past the hatred to carve out a better life. To build a peaceful world for themselves and their communities.

The initiative has also helped communities mobilize effectively during crises, as has happened during the recent Ebola outbreak. In fact, Sahr and Nyumah were spotted together at a recent community awareness program on the Ebola outbreak, organized by Fambul Tok.

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