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Decolonising Peace Education in Africa

Decolonising Education for Peace in Africa

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Sierra Leone

Salone Decolonising Education for Peace in Africa (Salone DEPA)  


Project Introduction 

The Sierra Leone project took place in Freetown (Capital City), and Kamakwie (Northern Province), guided by ‘H’ Patten (PI) and Alex Mbayo (CI), Aruna Lumeh (RA), Issa Roberts (RA), Abigail Renner (RA). 

Africa and Africans have always been involved and contributed to world events, especially those related to peace and conflict on the continent and beyond from pre-colonial to post-colonial era. Nonetheless, records and or stories about these have always been produced by scholars from the global north and therefore written from that perspective, demonstrating limited engagement with visions of peace emerging from local communities, especially those in Africa.  

Aim of Project 

The main aim of the Sierra Leone Decolonisation Education for Peace (Salone DEPA) was for Sierra Leonean academics and practitioners to generate the needed data using the bottom-up approach in three different categories - Theatre/dance, Storytelling, and Videography/filming, which all involved participants from marginalised communities. Data collected from these activities are being currently processed to produce both educational and teaching material resources in the form of peace education curricula that could be very relevant not only for teaching peace in Sierra Leone but also in Africa both at the informal and formal levels.  

The Storytelling project was successfully undertaken in two different Limba villages in the town of Kamakwie, Northern Province, training 21 teachers in storytelling leading and analysis. The Theatre/ dance project trained 24 participants in community theatre-in-education, and the Videography projects trained over 60 young people in documentary filmmaking using mobile phone technology. Both took place in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone. Key participants in all these projects were local teachers, youth groups, traditional/community leaders, artists and local/ community people.  


Project Methodology  

  • To carry out a very successful, efficient, and credible research activity, the DEPA project employed a mixed research methodology - qualitative, ethnographic, personal interviews and arts-based approaches to collect data from the above-mentioned participant groups through:  


  • For the storytelling project - individual oral stories (folk, mythological, traditional, problem, dilemma, ghost stories and Nancy stories - depicting real-life stories – e.g., bad leadership/ laws, inheritance, resource exploitation, environmental damage, gender inequality, etc.) were collected through video filming.  


  • For the theatre - community theatre for peace and education theatrical techniques and exercises such as live performances/plays, posters highlighting family and community issues, peace messages through songs, etc., were employed.  


  • Videography - involved the training of young people in the use of mobile phones for documentary and artistic storytelling, film production, and visual arts practices utilised to convey stories and/or encoded messages and symbolisms.  


Interviews and the snowball processes, focus group discussions with stakeholders, participant observation, and content analysis using the local knowledge and expertise of the research team to interpret cultural norms, values and traditions; and signs and symbols to decolonise the project were engaged. However, the project was not totally decolonial as the project was not completely free of the Open University regulations – e.g. mask mandates, segregating children, etc.  


Preliminary Findings  

The DEPA project found that much indigenous knowledge and practices, akin to peace and peace education exist within traditional practices and cultures but have remained untapped and are presently dwindling.  


It was also discovered that the bottom-up approach to peace education resonates better with community people, especially those in local communities that are far removed from the provincial headquarters and towns.  


The DEPA project additionally found that the cultures of the indigenous people of Sierra Leone are a uniting force and the best vehicle to use/employ in reaching out with messages of peace  


It was discovered that Salone DEPA has the potential to contribute significantly to and enhance peace education across cultures and ethnic groups, reducing tensions nationally.  


Similarly, it was found that Salone DEPA has the potential to revive storytelling, theatre, dance, and visual arts and hence empower the younger generation not only to promote peace, and report incidences of injustice and actions that may threaten the fragility of peace but to thereby take control of their future and that of their own country, whilst feeding into the development of peace education across Africa through the wider DEPA project.  


Project Highlights 

  • Many of the participants have gone on to use the creative industries in entrepreneurial ways, setting up their own businesses and a number finding employment within the fields they were trained in during DEPA.  


Educational Resources 

  • The Storytelling, Theatre/dance, and Film/videography projects are all in the process of developing step-by-step training manuals to enable others to train within each of the artistic genres. Extension projects are currently being planned to develop additional trainers and trainees in testing out the physical and online training manuals. 



  • Each of the projects has developed a whole cohort of peace ambassadors, whilst providing skills development and training for peers, way beyond those initially trained.