The African Union Commission’s Department of Political Affairs and Peace and Security (AUC-DPAPS) and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) invited Aaron Weah (Law PhD Researcher) to be a panellist at the 6th Edition of the African Transitional Justice Forum, held on 7 – 9 September 2022 in Lomé, Togo.
Session 7: Memorialisation - Community resilience and practices: Leveraging on community resilience and practices in shaping memorialisation efforts.
In Liberia, community memorialisation practices are fragmented. Custodians of memory and memory entrepreneurs are those of the pre-war generation. Sites/places of massacres are visible to that generation and invisible to the civil war and post-peace agreement generations, for places of (violent) memory are as dated as 1980s and recent as 1990s.
Liberia Housing and Population Census revealed that those 35 years and below accounts for 70% of the country’s population. In-country, practices of transitional justice and memorialisation have largely followed donors/NGO project-based approaches to remembering, creating a certain level of path-dependency. Political elites desire for collective amnesia are undermining further opportunities of integrating works of memory into one shared national vision. Where the state is silent or indifferent, local communities have stepped in, drawing on traditional and religious repertoire of remembering as alternative knowledge system.
Community practices of memorialisation are critical of donors/NGO project-based approaches to collective remembering as weak and unsustainable. Likewise, communities’ practices of memorialisation are countering official narrative of the conflict. The resilience of the community memorialisation practices is the desire to forge new partnership between those with autobiographical memories (pre-war generation) and those with prosthetic memories, with the view of engendering the desired transformation of justice and accountability.