Stories of War and Reconciliation

It was an unorthodox move, made in a country where nothing had made sense for years.

Courtesy of the United Nations

Following the second Liberian civil war, Agnes Fallah Kamara-Umunna used her radio show Straight from the Heart to expose the backstories of rebels who had perpetuated atrocities throughout a 24-year period. Those accounts provided a powerful platform to advocate for peace during a tumultuous period of reconciliation. The non-governmental, non-profit broadcasts from the capital city, Monrovia, often channeled the horrific stories of child soldiers who committed unspeakable crimes.

Kamara-Umunna’s radio program led to her work for Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and provided a basis for her book, And Still Peace Did Not Come: A Memoir of Reconciliation, which she will discuss at Mary Baldwin College in a series of public events November 1 and 2.

In a recent conversation with African Immigrant Journal, Kamara-Umunna explains why she does not hate those she interviewed for the crimes they committed during the war. “Everybody needed help after the war. I helped people when they could not help themselves. To hate them would be wrong. Many were so young — as young as 3 and 4 when they were forced to fight.”

Agnes Kamara-Umunna

Her visit is sponsored by several campus groups, including CGIU: Changemakers for Women, which helps raise money to sponsor women survivors of war, many from African nations. The student-led organization was created after a visit to Clinton Global Initiative University in 2007. In 2009, the group focused its efforts to support Women for Women International, whose former Rwandan director is now a student at MBC.

Like Kamara-Umunna, that student from Rwanda, Berra Kabarungi, experienced life as a refugee from her home country, ravaged by civil war and unimaginable human atrocities. And both returned to help restore peace.

Professor of Philosophy Roderic L. Owen notes that Kamara-Umunna “has experienced civil war and extreme violence first hand, while also working to heal the ragged wounds of a nation torn apart by powerful warlords, child soldiers, and a level of violence that most of us never wish to hear about, let alone experience.”

And Still Peace Did Not Come: A Memoir of Reconciliation is for sale in downtown Staunton at The Sacred Circle . Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Women for Women International. Co-sponsors of the event are the Department of Philosophy and Religion, the peacekeeping minor, the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement, and Grafton Library.

Tuesday, November 1

8 p.m.

Book discussion and reading: “And Still Peace Did Not Come: A Memoir of Reconciliation”

Martha S. Grafton Library

109 E. Frederick Street

Wednesday, November 2


International Café dialogue: “Is There a Future for Child Soldiers?”

Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement

110 N. Market Street

8 p.m.

Public lecture: “Peace, Truth, and Reconciliation: Lessons from Liberia”

James D. Francis Auditorium in the Pearce Science Center

227 East Frederick Street



Morgan Alberts Smith '99 is the web producer and social media manager for MBC's Office of Communication, Marketing, and Public Affairs.