If kresman tek yu klos, yu no fo ron afta – ram yu neked wan. If yu du am, den go tek una tu as kresman den.
If a madman takes your clothes you shouldn’t run after him naked. If you do, people will think that both of you are crazy.
Sierra Leonean Proverb (Kono)
Red Dusty Freetown
So I have a bit of free time (a bit of a rarity at the moment) so thought I would write and give you all an update of what’s going on this side of the African continent.
I am still enjoying the beach a lot! I have been for the last two weekends which helps ones mental health a lot in Freetown. A fortnight ago I went with one of my friends here to Cockle Point and she nearly ended up being missing to get the boat to catch her flight to Amsterdam… We got back to the outskirts of Freetown, and the with her bag she had to grab a motorbike taxi! Thankfully she caught the boat (and didn’t die from having to go on the motorbike taxi) but it was apparently a close thing! But the day at the beach was very pleasant, I had an amazing Green Thai Curry with chicken and a side of pumpkin which was delicious. The beach is great, secluded and would be a very peaceful place to stay. It is also conveniently located, being walking distance to two other beaches Tokeh and River Number 2 – although these all form just one actual beach which goes further than the eye can see.
Last weekend – after recovering from a terrible bout of food poisoning, I was invited to go out to Franco’s and had a mouth-watering penne with creamy lobster sauce. After lunch we went for a swim in the surf and threw tennis balls with the local kids, which was great fun and they were so enthusiastic! Beach life here really is the good life.
Country Lodge – Great View of Freetown
I now have a regular Sunday night activity, which I am very excited about! There is a group who every Sunday plays waterpolo. It is a lot of fun, a great workout and a lovely way to spend Sunday evening! There are not many rules – principally just not using two hands and occasionally ball under – but there might be more in the future. I am hoping that we introduce the rule no drowning a person who doesn’t have the ball… that one I feel should be top of the list to be introduced. The game is held in quite a small pool – but very clean pool (a rarity over here)! This is probably a good thing as only a few people are really fit, so it helps ensure it is relatively even and a bit easier for everyone. The only thing that would be better, is if it was more than once a week, but I am happy that I get to even do it once a week over here.
Freetown by the Sea
I recently got an immensely good laugh out of watching a female friend get hit on by an obese South African diamond dealer. One of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. We were out having lunch and this very large guy in a tailored suit begins talking to his friends about getting a “massage” in Freetown and where to go. He then asks my friend where he could go? She responds telling him one of the legitimate places to go to. Later on, as he was leaving he asks if she wants to “hang out sometime”… the definitive reply was no. I struggled to contain my laughter.
Another great experience was watching a lady at a hotel asking for a banana for her kids but they couldn’t have any black spots on them as the kids wouldn’t eat them if they did… lady you came to the wrong place.
Love the kids menu even if it is quite grim and would leave the kids with nightmares! Also what else do you want but a soft intriguing stop with your pasta? And how else is soup meant to be except totally liquified?
One of the things that has really struck me about Freetown and its surrounding area is the immense number of uncompleted buildings… It makes the place seem very strange as these husks of buildings are everywhere.
Husk of a Building
Now fair warning the remainder of the post is quite grim and not for the faint of heart. Coming back from the beach of Sunday I saw a particular sad and disturbing incident and one that left me with serious questions about this country. So, once we arrived back in Freetown, we saw a man being led away by police, who had been stripped naked, covered in blood, still bleeding profusely from his head, and staggering after the police officer in hand cuffs. He was apparently a thief who had been caught. Mob justice is common place apparently, and from what I have heard this man may have gotten off lightly. I mentioned what I had seen to a few friends and colleagues of mine here (all expatriates) and they had all witnessed similar stories which were generally far worse. Including, a thief having his hand cut off and another being beaten to death.
Derelict Bridge Under a Burning Sun
This is perhaps the hardest cultural clash I have had to deal with. The general acceptance and participation in mob violence against perpetrators of theft, I find to be abhorrent and offends me at a deep level. To me the loss of physical property is less severe than having one’s personal safety put in danger. And the idea that it is ok to commit a criminal act of beating a person, because they have also committed a crime is farcical. Even worse is the idea that it is ok to permanently maim or kill someone for such an offense. It makes me appreciate the criminal justice system from my home – which, whilst far from perfect, at least ensures a baseline of rights and protection for all. Even if for those who have committed crimes. Beating people bloody so that they can hardly walk, maiming them and killing them for theft for me is simple wrong and it saddens me deeply that such acts are acceptable here.
Driving Home at Sunset
I am going to leave you with a few of my new favourite Sierra Leonean proverbs. Until next time friends.
trenja no sabi bad rod – a stranger doesn’t know a bad road.
we yu kaka na di bed in hedsai, na yusef go smel am (Kono) – when you shit at the head of your bed, you are the one who will smell it.
we yu se yu go put fench pan di riva, boku wata go don pas – if you say you are going to fence the river, a lot of water will have got through. An exercise in futility.
sol klem hil (Temne) – salt has climbed the hill. Said when you meet someone in a situation you don’t expect, as when you are admiring someone or the person is showing off.