Tamaboro (Sierra Leone)

Country: Sierra Leone
Details of Formation: A senior officer of the NPRC junta initiated the formation of the Tamaboro in 1992 in reaction to a rumour that the RUF had drafted witches from neighbouring Burkina Faso to engage in the fight.
Details of Termination: In 1996, the newly elected president, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, tried to gain control over disparate regional militias by bringing them under a single, national-umbrella organization, the Civil Defense Forces (CDF). Evidence suggests that the Tamaboro were mobilised to join the CDF, too. Therefore, the termination date of January 17 in 2002 refers to the date the CDF were disarmed.
Purpose: The army recruited militia members in order to fight the rebel incursion by RUF. Tamaboro was deployed in the south-eastern border region, rendering it difficult for the rebels to penetrate further. They supported the army in operations such as the recapture of the important mining district Kono.
Organisation: Tamaboro is led by Mariama Keita, a sixty-year-old woman, whose secret weapon is said to be a mirror she wears around her neck.
Weapons and Training: The group is armed with traditional hunter’s guns, machetes, knives, bows and arrows. As a result of careful screening by community leaders, the militia is a relatively small group of high-quality fighters.
Size: Estimates regarding the number of members vary from 350 to 1,000.
Reason for Membership: At the encouragement of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), chiefs promised that the government would provide volunteers who joined the militia with a bag of rice as reimbursement for travelling.
Treatment of Civilians: no information
Other Information: Due to careful screening, the Tamaboro was a small, elite militia consisting of traditional hunters, witches and wizards believed to have supernatural powers. Popular belief has it that they are able to disappear and reappear at a flash, striking terror into the enemy. They boosted the morale of the soldiers alongside whom they fought, as many soldiers are from rural Sierra Leone, where belief in the supernatural is strong. Sometimes also referred to as "Tamaboro Battalion" or "Tamaboro Squad". Members were mainly recruited from the northern town of Kabala.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD