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The Role of Religion During and After the Civil War in Sierra Leone

PS Conteh


Civil wars in Africa are renowned for their strong religious elements, with religion being used for different purposes and in different capacities. Sierra Leone’s civil war (1991-2002), known also as the “rebel war,” had significant religious dimensions. The warring factions used religion for their gain. Beyond that, Muslim and Christian groups provided relief supplies for war victims and, through interfaith cooperation, succeeded in brokering peace between the government and the rebels. This article will present an account of the roles religion played in the Sierra Leonean civil war: as instigator, justifier, and eventually reconciler. In so doing, I will argue against singular modalities of religion, which fail to illustrate the permeation of religion in African society and the sphere of capabilities of religious leaders and organizations in war-torn states.