Freetown I love you
I’m in a taxi. It is covered with sun-bleached stickers of Tom and Jerry, the Smurfs, cars, Dora the Explorer, plastic figurenes, disney , glitter eyes, sparkling roses and - to top it off a Rastafari flag and a Muslim holy text dangling from the rear mirror.
The music is blasting from crackling car speakers, and the driver turns the volume down as he sees that I’m trying to make a call. He wears a worn-out beanie and bony hands.
I am suffering because it is cold. Theres a northern wind and everyone is complaining. It’s 25c.
The radio blasts an APC manifesto of a man shouting in Krio that ‘APC gives life’. I wonder how they can claim that.
It is too cold for me to walk up the mountain, so I decide to suffer double death by choosing 3 minutes on an okada over 15 minutes by foot, and as we cross up the hill with 2k an hour we pass by the collection of Fula shops where the Imatt community is having a street party. Tall speakers blast afrobeat sped up x10, surrounding it are children, men, women dressed in jumpers, covered in scarves and gloves shuffling about with content smiles on their faces.
I wave. “Una dae enjoy o!”
“Eeeeeh Aminata!” They reply. The children sing in chorus, “Padi, padi, padi!”
Above me the stars are exacerbated by the cold. Opposite my mountain I see the crater that the mudslide left behind. Such a contrast with the pleasure now experienced by my community.
As we arrive to my house, right on top of Leicester peak, dread comes and stab sme from behind. I look at the raving group of people, maybe 50, maybe 30. And imagine the floor crumbling underneath their feet, a wall of rocks burying them alive.
But tomorrow doesn’t exist yet and right know they celebrate. The moon and stars as surrogate stroboscopes and cheap whiskey bags as muscle oil. And I know, that this, is why I love Sierra Leone.
Two years ago
If one were to ask me where I was from I'd swiftly reply, "Amsterdam," in a tone that suggested that digging deeper was not appreciated. Amsterdam southeast was where I was born. The suburban should-have-been utopia that turned out to become a Valhalla for immigrants and criminals.