In 2002, as Sierra Leone prepared to announce the end of its brutal civil war, the distinguished anthropologist, poet, and novelist Michael Jackson returned to the country where he had intermittently lived and worked as an ethnographer since 1969. While his initial concern was to help his old friend Sewa Bockarie (S. B.) Marah-a prominent figure in Sierra Leonean politics-write his autobiography, Jackson's experiences during his stay led him to create a more complex work: In Sierra Leone, a beautifully rendered mosaic integrating S. B.'s moving stories with personal reflections, ethnographic digressions, and meditations on history and violence. Though the Revolutionary United Front (R.U.F.) ostensibly fought its war (1991-2002) against corrupt government, the people of Sierra Leone were its victims. By the time the war was over, more than fifty thousand were dead, thousands more had been maimed, and over one million were displaced. Jackson relates the stories of political leaders and ordinary people trying to salvage their lives and livelihoods in the aftermath of cataclysmic violence. Combining these with his own knowledge of African folklore, history, and politics and with S. B.'s bittersweet memories-of his family's rich heritage, his imprisonment as a political detainee, and his position in several of Sierra Leone's post-independence governments-Jackson has created a work of elegiac, literary, and philosophical power.
Michael Jackson is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. He is an award-winning poet, novelist, and anthropologist. Among his many books are Minima Ethnographica: Intersubjectivity and the Anthropological Project; Barawa, and the Ways Birds Fly in the Sky; At Home in the World (published by Duke University Press); Pieces of Music, a novel; and Antipodes, a collection of poetry.
List of Illustrations xi Maps xiii 1. Night Flight to Freetown 1 2. The North 12 3. Place of Refuge 20 4. In Kabala 32 5 .The Beef 41 6. Within These Four Walls 49 7. The Executions 56 8. Fina Kamara's Story 64 9. Tina Kome Marah 74 10. Early Days 86 11. Independence 98 12. Going Abroad 107 13. In Government 112 14. Thinking Back 125 15. Seeds of Conflict 132 16. The War 140 17. Day into Night 151 18. The Reversals of Fortune 161 19. The Value of Shade 170 20. Exile 180 21. In Conakry 186 22. Trust and Truth 192 23. The Hotel 201 Notes 209 Index 223