Some stories may seem better left buried under piles of time, hidden in the dark void of silence. But Agnes Kamara-Umunna knows better. A survivor of the unfathomably brutal Second Liberian Civil War, she has for years dedicated her life to bringing her country's painful past into the light of day, where some sort of reconciliation can take root. In 2004, Kamara-Umunna helped start a United Nations-sponsored radio show in Monrovia called "Straight From The Heart," immersing herself in the city's slums and using the show as a vehicle to coax confessions out of former child soldiers. Now, in the book And Still Peace Did Not Come: A Memoir of Reconciliation, written along with Emily Holland, she steps back to tell her remarkable tale of investigating the horrors that ripped her homeland apart. On Thursday, March 24th at 7 p.m. at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Kamara-Umunna will take the stage to speak about the still-unfolding toll of Liberia's civil wars and the healing process she has been trying so hard to foster. Kamara-Umunna began her quest collecting narratives on behalf of the Monrovia-based Liberia Truth & Reconciliation Commission. She found she had a talent for connecting with the tortured former torturers, and so a few years ago she left Liberia to move to New York, where she took on the difficult task of questioning refugee victims and former soldiers in Staten Island's Park Hill neighborhood. "A lot of stories, a lot of stories I hear," she told The New York Times in 2007, looking back on her work. "Some are victims telling me how hurt they are, especially seeing the perpetrators walking the streets of Liberia or living in the same community with them." "I feel that these boys were like used," she added, "and they were victims and turned to perpetrators." These days, Liberia is on a path toward progress, led by Africa's first female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. But, as Kamara-Umunna reminds us in And Still Peace Did Not Come, much work remains to be done to heal the country's deep wounds. The event is free and open to the public. Following Ms. Kamara-Umunna's talk, she will sign copies of her book. If you cannot attend the reading, but would like a signed copy of And Still Peace Did Not Come: A Memoir of Reconciliation, you may reserve it at http://acappellabooks.com/ev_afku.asp . (jasbro)
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