This article examines the relationship between chiefdom authority and decentralization in post-war Sierra Leone. The chieftaincy has been in crisis for some time and is widely thought to be responsible for contributing to rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) recruitment. However, chiefs remain an important influence in Sierra Leone, and there is little demand for an end to the chieftaincy system. Rather than an abolition of chieftaincy, governance at local level requires constructive relationships between chiefdoms and local governments and not simply a reshuffling of agrarian class relationships or old ways of doing politics. This in turn requires a reform of the chieftaincy system and the resolution of local political tensions arising from decentralization.