It has taken multiple visits to Makeni for me to really appreciate its northern charm. My mother whose temne family is based in Makeni never showed much interest in visiting or taking me. It was only 2 months ago that my mother and I first traveled to Makeni together with my father in search of some lost property that my father had purchased for her some 20yrs ago. My first memory of Makeni was in the summer of 1991 when my father, was stationed there as Local Unit Commander, Sierra Leone Police. He had taken me with him to spend my holidays there but our stay came to an abrupt end when my brothers Olu and Victor drowned in Aberdeen and we had to rush back to Freetown.
When I returned to Sierra Leone in 2007, I went to Makeni briefly as an elections observer for the Mano River Women’s Peace Network (MARWOPNET) but my interactions were limited to polling stations attendants. And what i saw from the window of the 4×4 was seen through the eyes of my NYC lens and stories of African villages that lingered in my mind from books i had read in college. In 2007, Makeni to me was a stuck between a village and a small surburban town with very little commercial activity.
Just 4 years later and the government has turned on small 1megawatts generator that sends power to some 200 homes/businesses in a town that previously had no electricity. Tractors, and trailers transporting heavy machinery dominate the town’s highways, and the number of NGO vehicles on the streets have now been over run by the corporate fleet of Addax Bioenergy, African Minerals, and London Mining. Dusty lanes are being replaced by paved tar mark, the town now boasts of its own University, and its best hotels and guest houses have to turn guests away as rooms are in high demand.
As i look about the streets of Makeni, its residents seem to have a little bit more pep in their step, and business opportunities for the enterprising entrepreneur seem limitless. With little or no congestion, clean air, and a more friendly citizenry, i wouldnt be surprised if those sons and daughters of Makeni who previously left for the streets of Freetown will be running back to Makeni reclaiming that which they once neglected.
|The Clubhouse Bar on Magburuka Road|
|seriously one of the best pizzas i’ve had in Sierra Leone|
|inside the Clubhouse bar|
|my 1st commercial okada ride|
Next time you make it up to Makeni check out the new expatriate hang out, the Clubhouse Bar on Magburuka Road, the pizza is good and the night scene is reminiscent of your favorite college hangout. Proceeds of the Bar go to Street Child Sierra Leone a UK based NGO that helps to reunite children with their families.I chose Makeni for my first Okada experience and it was safe and smooth.