Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, has been in the news recently due to his recent conviction for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone during the '90s. This was a turbulent and violent period for both Sierra Leone and Liberia, fueled by corruption and blood diamonds.
If you're interested in learning more about the trial of Charles Taylor, the website www.charlestaylortrial.org provides a day by day account of the trial itself, along with background information, a glossary, and an acronym cheat sheet.
For the story of how Mr. Taylor was removed from power and Liberians transformed their country into the stable democracy it is today, check out Mighty Be Our Powers: how sisterhood, prayer, and sex changed a nation at war by Leymah Gbowee and Carol Mithers. Ms. Gbowee and current Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen) were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their accomplishments.
For more on blood diamonds and their impact on Liberia and Sierra Leone, try:
In A Long Way Gone (966.404 BEA), the autobiography of Ishmael Beah, today a human rights activist, Mr. Beah tells the compelling and gritty story of his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone.
Aminatta Forna, the British daughter of a Sierra Leone physician executed for his political beliefs, has worked as a journalist, a documentarian, and novelist. Her lyrical second novel, The Memory of Love, tackles the impact of civil war on the lives of individuals.
Diamonds of War (DVD 553.82) is a 2002 National Geographic documentary shows the impact of the demand for diamonds on Sierra Leone.
Blood Diamond (Feature DVD), this 2006 thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is loosely based on events of the Sierra Leone Civil War, and the creation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which attempts to curtail the trade in illegal diamonds.
Kanye West's Grammy award winning second album, Late Registration, includes the track, "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," which addresses the trade in blood diamonds.
Other books and DVDs that might be of interest:
What is the What (Fiction Eggers), Sudan
War Child (962.404 JAL), Sudan
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight (Biography Fuller), Zimbabwe
Beasts of No Nation (Fiction Iweala), West Africa
One Day the Soldiers Came (302.2309 LON), Various
Little Bee (Fiction Cleave), Nigeria
Hotel Rwanda (Feature DVD), Rwanda
An Ordinary Man (967.57104 RUS), Rwanda
Running the Rift (Fiction Benaron), Rwanda
The Last King of Scotland (Feature DVD), Uganda
The Last King of Scotland (Fiction Foden), Uganda
Unbowed (Biography Maathai), Kenya
King Peggy (Biography Bartels), Ghana