Utilizing narratives of seven different people - soldier, rebel, student, trader, evangelist, father, and politician - "I Did it To Save My Life" provides fresh insight into how ordinary Sierra Leoneans survived the war that devastated their country for a decade. Individuals in the town of Makeni narrate survival through the rubric of love, and by telling their stories and bringing memory into the present, create for themselves a powerful basis on which to reaffirm the rightness of their choices and orient themselves to a livable everyday. The book illuminates a social world based on love, a deep, compassionate relationship based on material exchange and nurturing, that transcends romance and binds people together across space and through time. In situating their wartime lives firmly in this social world, they call into question the government's own narrative that Makeni residents openly collaborated with the rebel RUF during its three-year occupation of the town. Residents argue instead that it was the government's disloyalty to its people, rather than rebel invasion and occupation, which destroyed the town and forced uneasy co-existence between civilians and militants.
Catherine Bolten is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments List of Acronyms Timeline of the Key Events of War and Aftermath, 1991--2003 Note on Sources Introduction: Sierra Leonean Emotions, Sierra Leonean War Chapter 1: Understanding Makeni and Nested Loyalties: Marginality and Collaboration in the Northern Capital Chapter 2: "I Must Be Grateful to Them for Freeing Me": The Soldier Chapter 3: "They Said Nobody Would Hide from This War": The Rebel Chapter 4: "I Held a Gun but I Did Not Fire It": The Student Chapter 5: "The Government Brought Death, the Rebels Allowed Us to Live": The Trader Chapter 6: "It Was the Lord Who Wanted Me to Stay": The Evangelist Chapter 7: "They Really Damaged Me": The Father Chapter 8: "The RUF Thought I Was on Their Side": The Politician Epilogue and Conclusions: Makeni, May 2010 Notes Bibliography Index