Saturday, May 19, 2007

Child Soldier from Sierra Leone to Speak at African Liberation Day, May 26 in DC

060323soldier.jpgOn May 26th at Anacostia Park, located in the heart of southeast Washington D.C., the African community will be introduced to a young leader very few of us are familiar with. His name is Chernoh Alpha M. Bah. He is a former child soldier who fought in the civil war in Sierra Leone during the 1990’s. He is an award winning, world renowned journalist. And at the young age of 28, he is the leader of the Africanist movement, a political organization in West Africa of more than 70,000 young activists dedicated to the liberation of African people.

Chernoh will be speaking at the African Liberation Day mobilization, sponsored by the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement to educate Africans in the U.S. about his experiences and the conditions that Africans are living in in West Africa.
At twelve, Chernoh was recruited into the Sierra Leone army as one of the infamous child soldiers. Chernoh was forced to fight in the deadly civil war instigated by the brutal Revolutionary United Front (RUF) that devastated the country in the 1990s. Chernoh was in the army until 1994 when the masses of the people of Sierra Leone were demanding peace.
In 1997, at seventeen, Chernoh joined forces with other comrades to form the Awareness Movement to unite young Africans in Sierra Leone to struggle against the notorious atrocities of the Revolutionary United Front. When President Kabbah was overthrown that same year by the Sierra Leone Army, Chernoh again participated in pro-democracy campaigns to fight for the restoration of civil rule. Since that time Chernoh has remained actively opposed to the ongoing military rule in his country.
For a man as busy and influential as Chernoh, the question has been asked, why speak at the ALD? “It is important that I speak at the African Liberation Day so that I can let my people on this side of the Atlantic Ocean know that our struggle is the same. When I see the conditions of Southeast DC – I see the same thing in Freetown, Sierra Leone.”
Chernoh knows the importance of getting the word out. In fact, he cut his political teeth as a journalist to expose the true corruption behind the civil war in Sierra Leone. While in exile in Guinea, he formed the Young Writers Association, which worked to unite writers and journalists displaced from Sierra Leone and Liberia. Journalists from the association reported abuses against the thousands of African people from war zones of those countries who were seeking refugee in camps in Guinea.
The Young Writers Association quickly developed into a mass movement, bringing together Africans from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to discuss problems facing refugees and their persistent harassment and intimidation by the Guinea police.
In 2001 Chernoh was arrested in Guinea and detained on charges of “espionage and sedition.” After his release from prison the regime in Guinea banned the Young Writers Association and The Nations Newspaper. Chernoh returned to Sierra Leone, bringing together what remained of the Young Writers Association to form the Africanist Movement whose goal is to fight for the uncompromising liberation and unification of the oppressed African masses.
Since that time the Africanist Movement has grown into a mass movement dedicated to African liberation and unification with thousands of members in more than eight countries throughout West Africa.
Chernoh is currently Director of the Africanist Movement, leading its activities in West Africa. The Africanist Movement has recently been thrust into the international spotlight when social upheaval broke out in Guinea-Conakry, where the Africanist Movement and the Uhuru Movement have been challenging the government policies that keep the working people poor as the rich get richer.
For activists in the U.S., Chernoh’s work in Africa is a breath of fresh of air and a beacon of light. “Anyone who is genuinely interested in the situation in Africa has to come hear Chernoh Alpha. He speaks from experience and his words inspire you to take action here,” said Gaida Kambon, director of African Liberation Day.
What: African Liberation Day Conference and Rally
When: Saturday, May 26 (Conference: 9am - 1pm, Rally: 2pm - 8pm)
Where: Washington D.C. (Conference: Union Temple Baptist Church, 1225 W Street, S.E.; Rally: Anacostia Park, 1900 Anacostia Dr SE)


Link to Former Child Soldier from Sierra Leone to Speak at African Liberation Day, May 26 in DC : Indybay