Article from ROAPE Volume 26 Number 81
Ransoming the State: Subaltern Terror, Sierra Leone
Elite practices that valorised pillage, massified society, banalised violence and ‘sobelised’ the army are central to understanding the tragedy of subaltern terror in Sierra Leone. The appropriation of lumpen violence and thuggery by the political class undermined security and paved the way for the political ascendancy of armed marginals. By heavily recruiting thugs, criminals and rural drifters into national security apparatuses, incumbent political elites sowed the seeds of their own political demise as well as that of the state. Socially uprooted and politically alienated, lumpenised youth are inherently prone to criminal adventurism and when enlisted in the army are more likely to become ‘sobels’ or renegade soldiers. This article situates the transformation of praetorian violence from a tool of political domination to a means of criminal expropriation in the engendering context of elite parasitism and repression.