Samuel Hinga Norm
Date of Birth: January 1, 1940
Time of Birth:
Place of Birth: Mongeri
Samuel Hinga Norman, born on January 1, 1940, in Mongeri, Bo District, Sierra Leone, was a prominent Sierra Leonean politician hailing from the Mende tribe. He played a pivotal role as the founder and leader of the Civil Defence Forces, commonly known as the Kamajors. The Kamajors were instrumental in supporting the government of Ahmed Tejan Kabbah against the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh. However, his legacy is marred by controversy due to his indictment by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Norman began his journey in the Sierra Leone Army in 1959, eventually reaching the rank of captain during his service until 1972. He balanced military service with education, earning a diploma from the Officer's School of Aldershot in the United Kingdom. His educational pursuits highlighted his commitment to personal and professional development.
Transitioning to politics, Hinga Norman became Deputy Minister of Defence (April 20, 1998, to May 21, 2002) and later served as Minister of the Interior (May 21, 2002, to March 10, 2004). Notably, these political roles overlapped with his indictment at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Additionally, he held the position of national director of the CDF (Civil Defence Forces) and strategically utilized the traditional Kamajors as a militia.
The Kamajors, composed of traditional hunters from the south and east of Sierra Leone, played a crucial role in supporting President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah's government. They replaced mercenaries as the government's security force and integrated into the ECOMOG counteroffensive to reinstate Kabbah in 1998.
However, the Kamajors faced challenges, being an untrained army with unclear allegiances among its soldiers. Allegations of pillaging, terrorizing, and recruiting soldiers under the age of 15 added complexity to their involvement in the civil war.
Sam Hinga Norman's life took a dramatic turn when he was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on March 7, 2003, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. His trial began on June 3, 2004, alongside other key figures. Norman dissolved his legal team initially but later assented to standby counsel representing him. The trial concluded with closing arguments in September 2006. Unfortunately, Norman passed away in custody on February 22, 2007, in Dakar, Senegal, undergoing medical treatment, leading to the termination of the trial proceedings against him.