Alpha Umarr Barrie (AUB), MBBI Sierra Leone international team member was interviewed by Nurulayn Noor (NN), MBBI writer, on September 30th, 2016.
Witnessing hardships around him throughout his life, Alpha Barrie questioned why such visceral hatred exists between the rebels and his community members in Sierra Leone. He was determined that there had to be another way to solve conflicts, though he had not yet been introduced to the field of conflict resolution. At university he was introduced to Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI), and this encounter enabled him to better understand and manage the issues underlying the hatred within his society.
Alpha was born and raised in Eastern Province, Sierra Leone. At a young age, he experienced the 1991 Civil War which saw rebels use violence and force captives to mine for gold and diamonds. Rebels targeted wealthier areas that had money they could steal in order to receive funding for their fighting. On the morning of March 23rd, rebels kidnapped Alpha and several others. He was brutally tortured and nearly forced to work in the mines alongside other captives, but he managed to escape. Though he was fortunate to escape, he lost several relatives, and it took him years to fend for his survival. Eventually he reached Freetown safely, where his uncle helped him attend school and receive an education. Barrie’s journey towards building peace began at this point in his life. He began by asking, “Do they hate us? Why are we suffering?”