Rebellion and Agrarian Tensions in Sierra Leone

K. Peters, P. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


This paper assesses the extent to which customary governance in Sierra Leone can be held responsible for an increasingly unstable two-class agrarian society. A case is made for regarding the civil war (1991–2002) as being an eruption of long-term, entrenched agrarian tensions exacerbated by chiefly rule. Evidence is presented to suggest that the main rebel movement embodied in its plans to reorganize agricultural production some grasp of these longer-term agrarian problems. Postwar attempts to implement co-operative farming and mining are then described. The failure of these schemes is linked to the reinstitution of customary land law and local patronage systems. Current struggles over land now involve international capital. Deep agrarian reforms will be required as the price of keeping international capital engaged in the Sierra Leone countryside
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-395
JournalJournal of Agrarian Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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