(Images: Me@charlotte falls, Me next to a bottle of star that does not belong to me, and finally me on my road and in the background are many of the youth in Banana Water who go to my mosque)
It’s 5:30 in the morning and i’ve already eaten two cups of rice ball pap, fresh bread from the bakery…i could hear the butter melt as i spread it in the bread. My two cousins and aunt finish up yesterday’s jollof rice, which they top off with some bread and butter and tea. We sit outside (na backdo) under August’s thunderous showers, awaiting dawn and the call to prayer. Its been a week since we Nafila’d (made our intention to fast for the month of Ramadan) and my stomach has already shrunken and i finally appreciate the concept of one’s eye’s being bigger than one’s belly.
For those who never knew (which maybe indicates i’m not a good Muslim) they find it unbelievable that I am a muslim. “Bo na lie bo u no to muslim bo…oostem u don ever yerri but Doherty Muslim”. They are half way right in the assumption that my family is historically christian as are the 99% of krios in Freetown and unlike the 1% krio Fouray Bay/ Fullah Town Muslims in the central and eastern part of town who have been pracitising Islam for as long as recaptives have been brought to Sierra Leone, I am an even stranger breed of krio muslim. When i tell people that i converted to Islam, they find the concept extremely strange. I’ve even heard someone ask me if i was well….”me noh wan day yerri say Christian turn muslim”, my response cheeky as always “well na way u noh expose”. It has been five years since i converted but its a long jounrney to becoming a muslim, understanding the faith, learning about hadiths, reading translations of the coran, and memorizing suras. ( It’s 6. It’s still raining outside but i can hear the call to prayer so i’ll be right back…gotta go hit the rakas)
Some moments later….
So now i’m in Sierra Leone and this is my third Ramadan at home as a muslim. One thing for sure is that the country shuts down during Ramadan and things tend to move slower than usual and its also rain season so when i say slow i mean slow. The large speaker sets are rolled in most places and if u didnt know any better u might think “di muslim dem na dem kin enjoy na dem noh moh kin enjoy na dem bar dem”, but i think the glady glady reduces on all sides as a courtesy to those who r observing. In fact one really funny thing that happened this year was that FREE RADIO Station 95.7 had a big night at ‘ol skool night club the week before Ramadan the theme of the bash was “Lockbush 2009″…ah noh go tel u oos bush dem bin mean :-)(afterall this na Ramadan)
Anyway I digress…the real reason i was itching to write was to tell you about my community mosque at 20 Boyle. The morning call to prayer depending on who does it can be quite comical “salat salat woktu salat…oona grap near oona ooman dem…grap niya u man, lef da ooman now, tem don reach for cam pray, jamah tem don reach…salat salat”. Since i sleep alone ah know say no to me den kin day pull hint pan…heheheh
The night we Nafila’d was quite funny really. We entered the mosque and as people trickled in the Imam kept on with his announcements. ” jama leh we tell Allah tenki fo way wi see this holy month of Ramadan…etc.etc..di mosque full en some of oona we noh get fo see again tay next year. Way wi day start this holy month do ya jama way we day cam pray, no to fo oda posin. Way u day cam pray no to for came take posin im phone. En na big big sin oona way day came pray en oona take oda posin im afback go. Na big big sin for tif na papa God in os. All man for take im yone afback. En finally jama ah no go lie, da wi generator way den tiff nobody noh tiff am but we yone pekin dem inside this mosque. Do do ya jama leh we noh pwell dis Ramadan, Leh Allah forgive we all” amin
As i sat there on the hard concrete floor, the same floor where days later i would be attacked by ants as i prayed, all i could think about was my slippers outside. I didnt think they were that fabulous or worth stealing but now that he’s put it in my head…Hmmm do ya papa God leh posin noh tif me afback, make ah no go get for waka go na os biah fut”