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Empire in Africa is Rebel Propaganda. Do not be misled.
I worked in Sierra Leone. The filmmaker presents a dishonest view, defending the RUF rebels and blaming just about everyone but the RUF. I agree with ijapa's review based on my experience.
Some specific inaccuracies:
President Valentine Strasser, who accidentally came to power in a coup in 1992, made the decision to hold elections in 1996. At the last minute, Strasser decided to retain power, was deposed, and the elections carried out by the Sierra Leone cabinet under General Bio. The UN did not impose them. The UN is represented as an evil outside force throughout the film.
The elections were judged fair by observers. The RUF tried to prevent them and did not participate. Their campaign of terror against voters by cutting off voters' hands and feet made the elections much more difficult and costly because many voters were refugees.
The rebel leader Foday Sankoh was put in the cabinet by the Lome Accords in which the Clinton administration, burned by the Somalia experience (Black Hawk Down), was willing to agree to anything that it thought would stop the rebels without US troops. The decision in no way validated Sankoh as a legitimate leader as proposed in the film. In fact he used the position to further the war and was eventually arrested. After he was arrested, his detailed records of 2000 diamonds he was attempting to illegally sell in Antwerp were discovered. He died in prison of old age awaiting trial for crimes against humanity, at 65 well beyond the average life expectancy of Sierra Leonians.
Nigeria has a strong friendly relationship with Sierra Leone because many Nigerians attended Fourah Bay College in Freetown. Nigeria is the strongest member of ECOMOG, the West African NATO. It was appropriate for ECOMOG to intervene in Sierra Leone as requested by the Sierra Leone government.
Nigeria's soldiers are among the most professional in Africa. Did ECOMOG kill civilians in the RUF attack on Freetown, the capital, in the rebels' "operation no living thing" attack? Probably, but not on the scale proposed by the rebel spokesman. Keep in mind that many rebels were easily identifiable by their RUF tattoos.
There is no mention of Charles Taylor, the Liberian warlord and finally president. Taylor created the RUF as we know it, extending his Liberian tactics of total terror and child soldiers to Sierra Leone. Taylor financed the rebels and provided weapons in exchange for Sierra Leone diamonds mined by the RUF. The RUF diamonds were used by Al Qaeda to hide assets in advance of the Nairobi US Embassy bombing and 9/11. For details check the Washington Post.
Taylor was arrested in the US for embezzlement but escaped from jail. Soon after he underwent guerrilla training under Muammar Qaddafi in Liberia as did Sankoh in the mid 1980's. He is now awaiting trial in at the International Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity for his role with the RUF.
The filmmaker uses footage from the film "Cry Freetown". www.cryfreetown.org That filmmaker's website does not support the statements advanced by "Empire in Africa". There is a first person account on the website of the capture of a small boy shown in the film.
Should you see the film?
It contains many statements, including in the narration, which are not true. The average viewer without country knowledge will have difficulty determining what is true and what is not. It is in no way balanced and does not add to an understanding of what happened.
The film contains numerous shots of corpses, body parts and on camera killing. For that reason it is unrated in the US. The gore adds nothing to understanding what happened.
Do I recommend it? No.
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