In 1990, Liberia plunged into the hell of 14 years of civil war. The war scarred every living soul in the country. Atrocities were committed by all sides and perhaps the worst atrocities of all were done by and to the children who were kidnapped, drugged, and forced to become child soldiers.
Eventually, the war ended with the country ravaged and the population decimated, mutilated, and devastated. How does one pick up a life and go on when so many atrocities have been committed by your next door neighbor or by their child?
In And Still Peace Did Not Come Agnes Kamara-Umunna tells how after the war was over and the fighting ceased, peace still did not come. It could not come until some how reconciliation could begin. Modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation Council set up following apartheid in South Africa, the TRC in Liberia began taking statements from Liberian citizens. For people to live together without falling into an endless cycle of revenge, truth must be told by both victims and perpetrators and the work of reconciliation begun. So much easier said than done.
Agnes Kamara-Umunna hosted a radio program straight from the Heart which allowed people to tell their story. Early on she discovered that the former child soldiers were virtual untouchables. They either had no family left or had been rejected by their family or their community. They were now living on the streets with no home, food, school, or friend and many were addicted to drugs or alcohol. Agnes began to help them with food and shelter. She brought them onto the radio program so that the population could see that they were children and were every bit as much victims as they had been perpetrators.
The book is well written and conveys the horrors of what happened without descending into ghoulishness. The work of building peace through telling the truth and beginning reconciliation is well expressed. It gives both a vivid picture of both the horrors that humans can inflict on one another and the hope that peace can come through truth and reconciliation.