News reports of Col. Gaddafi’s death brought an unexpected reaction from some of the local people. Some were expressing sadness at the loss of a brother. It is difficult for me to understand, especially considering Gadaffi’s connection to Sankoh and Charles Taylor, as well being instrumental in the planning and alleged funding of the conflict in Sierra Leone, which went on for ten years. Being linked with atrocious war crimes and the death of tens of thousands of civilians in Sierra Leone does not seem to outweigh the high profile gifts to the country’s leaders in the more recent years. The giving of cash and cars seemed to be enough to pardon irreparable damages in some minds.
My perspective is, of course, limited and although I see Gadaffi’s act as simply buying back a bit of favor, others people see it as friendship. Culturally, friendship is enormously important here in Sierra Leone. It is binding and forgiving, and if someone gives you a gift, he is your friend. It is hard to re-arrange my thinking but it is a nonetheless a testament to forgiveness.