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General Butt Naked pleads for funding and Liberia's forgiveness

General Butt Naked pleads for funding and Liberia's forgiveness

Liberia

Everyone likes a good redemption story, and there are few more remarkable ones than the tale of a notorious Liberian warlord “General Butt Naked,” who repented of his atrocities and became a preacher.

On Sunday mornings in the capital, Monrovia, a few dozen people gather in a tin-roofed church to hear the former warlord preach.

The “General”, who earned his title from fighting street battles naked during Liberia’s 14-year civil war, killed and mutilated thousands of people sometimes by his own hand and at other times by his army of mostly child soldiers.

We need eight buildings for staff quarters. So that makes 56 units. Then we also need halls, where they will be doing their training, eight halls where they will be doing their different training.

Blahyi, who now has hundreds of supporters on social media, wants funding for a charity he said is training former child soldiers and drug addicts in farming and construction.

“We need eight buildings for staff quarters. So that makes 56 units. Then we also need halls, where they will be doing their training, eight halls where they will be doing their different training. But the major thing is the fence that costs us 1 million $50,000 for the fence around the 24 acres,” he said.

He said he has trained about 1000 former combatants and street kids in activities such as farming and bricklaying since 2007, but has been hampered by lack of funds. He appealed to donors to support him in his project.

Abraham Fahnbullah had been living on the streets since he was 14 years old when the General took him to the vocational home a few years ago. Now he runs a small business opened by Blahyi.

However, an official from the Human Rights Commission, James Torh said the former warlord’s initiative should be given a chance and should also be closely monitored.

“What he is engaged in, if it’s intended to help young people, I think it’s worthwhile. It’s worth it to be commendable. However, if we are ready and prepared to monitor it to see whether people are being rewarded or successful in the process, we should encourage him to continue,” Torh added.

A woman who declined to be named said Blahyi ordered his child soldiers to rape her.

“During the war, me, my father, my mother, my brother, and sister were in our house at night. Butt Naked and his boys came with knives and burst open our door. They took our things, everything that we had,” she said.

It would be recalled that in 1980, former president Samuel Doe seized the Presidency of Liberia in a coup. Blahyi claims that he later became Doe’s spiritual adviser, and that he used witchcraft to help Doe win a second term.

In 2013, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said youth unemployment is a major threat to peace and security in Liberia. Adding that if not addressed, it could lead to the return of conflict in the small west African country.

Young people account for about 65 percent of Liberia’s population of 4.1 million, and youth unemployment is estimated as high as 85 percent.

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