|Sierra Leone Civil War|
|Attempts at Peace|
The Kamajors were a group of traditional hunters from the Mende ethnic group in the south and east of Sierra Leone (mostly from the Bo district). They were originally employed by local chiefs, but under the leadership of Samuel Hinga Norman was used by President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah in 1996 to replace mercenaries (Executive Outcomes which became Sandline International, helped train the force) as the security force of the government. This security force was called Civil Defence Forces (CDF). At that time, the force was expanded to over 20,000 men, dwarfing the army and mercenaries. Kabbah's presidency ended when a coup led by junior officers in 1997 installed Johnny Paul Koroma as the head of state. The Kamajors were a part of the ECOMOG (a Nigeria led force) counteroffensive to reinstate Kabbah in 1998. In 1999, Freetown was taken by the Charles Taylor backed and Foday Sankoh led Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), which was a combination of the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the former Sierra Leone Army (SLA). The Kamajors again served with ECOMOG and UN peacekeepers in trying to secure stability. Because of the alleged violations of international law the leaders of the CDF (including Hinga Norman) were indicted before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Although some point to diamond fields (blood diamonds) as the real motivating factor of the Kamajors, they played a major role in the march toward Sierra Leonean stability. On the other hand, the Kamajors have been accused of pillaging, terrorizing, and killing civilians in Sierra Leone, as well as employing soldiers under the age of 15. In March, 2003, Hinga Norman was indicted for these war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. His trial began in June, 2004 along with that of two of his lieutenants, Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondaw
A truly "grassroots" military force, the Kamajors are rumored to possess magical powers such as the ability to dodge bullets and to disappear. The Kamajors used mainly older, single-shot rifles. Despite their comparatively primitive weapons to that of the RUF, they had many militarily successful encounters with the RUF. The Kamajors are known for their use of ritualistic magic such as chanting and applying the unit leader's saliva to the foreheads of the soldiers and amulets. The Kamajors believe that power and potency as a warrior is dependent on sexual abstinence. In recent years, the Kamajors have been moved from their native areas and traditional chiefs given more responsibility in national security. Once separated from the influence of the ‘paramount’ chiefs, the Kamajors have become undisciplined and cases of rape have become more common.