I was only with them for one week and then I escaped… We had just reached the Malal hills…I escaped when we were washing at the waterside. It was the last camp before the main [Malal] camp. I told Braima Conteh [the guard] that I wanted to wash before we climbed the hill. I was in school uniform. It was 6.00 a.m. The guard went with me, even to the toilet. There was thick bush along the river. I loosened my trousers as if to ease. Then I ran off and hid in the bush. I was two days in the bush before I escaped.
At first I followed the river, then I saw a canoe and crossed. Then I said, ‘Today I am free’. I walked in the bush until I reached the Makeni road. I came across an abandoned village. I picked some oranges, but was afraid. I thought, the road is not safe. I met people hiding in the bush. I met one Abu Sesay, a schoolboy from Makeni. His mother cooked for me. Next day I planned to try and reach Makeni.
I went into the bush to sleep. When dawn broke I went back to the Lunsar-Makeni highway. I stopped a vehicle but they were afraid to take me, my clothes were so dirty. They held me at Fadugu checkpoint because I had no identity card. They said, 'Wait for the boss.' When the lieutenant came I explained that I had lost my ID. He accepted my story and gave me a letter 'to whom it may concern', saying I was a fifth-former from K[. . .] School.
The lieutenant stopped a vehicle and sent me down to Port Loko. There I sent a message to my mother. People came from [...] to collect me. But one military man stopped me, stripped me naked and said I was a rebel spy, threatening to kill me. Once you have become a 'bush creature' people run away from you.
Narrative 8 from Krijn Peters and Paul Richards, “Why We Fight: Voices of Youth Combatants in Sierra Leone”, Source Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 68, No.2 (1998): 183-210.