Before I share my recollections on my last night in the country, I wanted to share something I forgot to mention in the last entry.
On the night we got back from Pujehun, after everyone had dropped off their bags at Sahid’s place, I was sitting in the foyer of the house just outside of the living room waiting for the Internet to load when Augustine, the teenager who stays with Sahid and his family in Freetown, approached me very quietly. I could tell he was connecting with me since we first began talking about hip hop in America.
So when he approached me, he was very honest. Standing against the wall, he told me that his views about agriculture had changed since I had arrived. A few days ago, he was explaining how he, like many youths in Freetown, felt agriculture was not appealing to him. But he said he had witnessed my commitment to my assignment and how I had traveled to each youth farming group in the provinces to hear what they had to say about agriculture. That effort, he said, had inspired him to perhaps go into farming after he finishes secondary school.
That statement right there should be an indication that youths’ attitudes about agriculture in Sierra Leone are indeed changing. Continue reading
I’ve been without the electricity or time now to jot down my daily thoughts for a while. But here are my recollections of the last few days.
On Friday, we traveled to Kono in the eastern part of the country. It is known as the breadbasket of the country because of its rich diamond resources. How do you know you’re in Kono? You can feel the bumpy roads along the way to the district (and, in the case of the video below, you can hear them as well). Continue reading
I’m starting to feel right at home. We spent most of the day Wednesday in Waterloo, in the Western Area Rural District, where we met with three youth farming groups. They all had interesting stories and seemed very determined to get their projects off the ground. Continue reading
The journey to Sierra Leone was long. I left California Monday afternoon and, after two layovers, I finally arrived at my destination the next evening. It really didn’t start to sink in that I was heading to Africa until our plane began flying over the Sahara. All I remember seeing was vast areas of sand, with layers of blue and orange coating the horizon. The nice lady sitting next to me described it as an “ocean of brown.” I would concur.
When I arrived at the airport, I was both excited and anxious. Excited because I couldn’t believe that I had actually made it to the Motherland. Anxious because the task ahead of me, I knew, was going to be a challenge. Continue reading
As some people know, I’m planning to go on a reporting trip to Sierra Leone soon. In preparation for the trip, I’ve been talking to a number of folks who are familiar with the country. I had an interesting conversation not too long ago with a Sierra Leonean American living in the Pacific Northwest. He was telling me about how the people in Sierra Leone are some of the most welcoming people you will ever meet.
But as he went on about Sierra Leone’s unique history (as you know, Sierra Leone was settled by freed slaves brought there by the British navy in 1787) and how that history plays an important role in why Sierra Leoneans are so friendly and generous to foreigners, he said something that made me pause for a moment and reflect on my own experience as an African American. Continue reading