Volume 18 Number 3
Building Confidence in Sierra Leone
01 June 2005

Kadi Fakondo's job involves overseeing complaints from the public, community relations, and discipline and internal investigations.

KADI FAKONDO, an Assistant Inspector-General of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), speaks her mind and gets things done. Her job involves overseeing complaints from the public, community relations, and discipline and internal investigations.

During Sierra Leone's ten-year civil war, which formally ended in January 2002, people lost confidence in the police, says Fakondo. The restructuring of the police force has helped to restore trust, but reassuring Sierra Leone's different communities continues to be her most important challenge.

Last summer she was one of a group of senior police and military personnel who took part in a conference at the Initiatives of Change centre in Caux, Switzerland. Oliver Somasa, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, was also part of the group. He had already invited IofC to start a 'training of trainers' programme for police, armed forces and civil society in Sierra Leone. At Caux, Kadi Fakondo responded wholeheartedly to his vision.

The course aims to 'give training in how to apply moral values, starting with oneself, to encourage reconciliation, healing and the prevention of further conflict'. The first two courses took place last January, with 72 participants. 'After talking with participants, who have gained so much, I believe this course will create a significant change as a result of the military and police sitting down together with members of civil society.' One participant said, 'I'm no longer afraid of the police and army.' A further course is planned for November.

Fakondo is married, with three children. 'I would not have reached this far without the support of my family,' she says. 'We believe in working and living together, in supporting each other. We believe in God. This is what has pulled us through.'

During a family dinner last Christmas, the telephone rang. A woman was desperate for police assistance: she was afraid to go out of her house to confront people who were playing deafening music. To the concern of her husband and children, Fakondo left the table and arranged for help to be sent immediately.

A few days later, Fakondo was in a meeting when a woman stood up. 'You saved the day because now I sleep well, the music is not loud and those people (found later to be on drugs) now know that they cannot behave in that way,' she said. Kadi Fakondo's phone has been ringing ever since!
Keith Neal

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