I arrived in Salone at 5:15pm on the dot on Friday evening after a short 6 hour trip on Astraeus Airlines. The man sitting next to me on the plane announced before we landed that he wasn’t going to let his luggage be searched by SL customs officials. I asked him “why not” as opening up suitcases was well within their responsibilities. He replied: “because they shouldn’t”. My response: “How is it that living in London you would never question airport officials’ right to open your bags but in SL, it is unacceptable?” He smiled and I thought….. “Ah Salone, this is going to be an interesting year”.
When we stepped off the plane the passenger bus carrying people the very walkable distance to the airport building was full so I had to wait. I exclaimed half joking that how wonderful that we have a bus…..whilst in London it was a 20mins walk to the departure gate…..and people say Salone is not developed. A couple people laughed….one man responded with a question also joking: “but what about actually getting to Freetown…”? I stopped him before he could finish, “lets focus on the present, we’ll cross that bridge later”…..laughter again….Nice to know my sense of humor wont be wasted here.
HELICOPTER CRASH UPDATE
Until very recently, there were three alternating ways to get across river Sierra Leone which separates lungi airport and the capital. By ferry, hovercraft or helicopter. Two weeks ago 22 people died in a Paramount helicopter that crashed a couple minutes after it left Freetown headed for the airport. Most of the people who died where members of the Togolese contingency that had beat the Sierra Leonean team 1-0 in a football match.
Supposedly there was a commission (international Civil aviation organization) that had evaluated the helicopter’s services a couple weeks before and presented a list of 99 things that had to be done that would make Paramount’s Helicopter Services safe for use (i’m trying to get my hand on a copy of this list). It appears that none of these recommendations were met but services resumed.
As of last night the Minister of Roads and Transport PRINCE HARDING, and the permanent secretary to the ministry Mr. ABDULRAHMAN WURIE, and the director of Civil Aviation and his deputy (whose names I cannot make out at this time) have all been arrested. The PRO (Public Relations Officer) of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) announced on the radio that investigations show that the individuals arrested may have accepted bribes from Paramount that allowed them to resume services. I think we can safely say that the helicopter crashed because they did not meet the recommendations.
GoSL SCHOOLS CLOSING EARLIER THAN USUAL
In other news, all schools in the country will close on JUNE 29th 2007, a month earlier than usual because of the impending August 11th elections. It may seem bizarre to some but I understand the need for caution. Sierra Leone is HOTT right nw…..many young people are unhappy…many excombattants are unhappy, Sierra Leone Army is unhappy, Civil Defense/Kamjor are unhappy (their leader Hinga Norman died recently…some people suspected foul play).
MAN DEM NO GLADI….a song by the BAW WAW SOCIETY are the most popular words of dissent. The words simply say…..WE’RE NOT HAPPY…..who told them Sierra Leone was about the pursuit of happiness???
PRESIDENT KABBAH EXIT SPEECH……TUESDAY
Yesterday I was at the presidential lodge…the president will be making his farewell speech to parliarment on Tuesday 19th JUNE. I got an invitation….i’ve already read the two hour speech…..but cannot comment until its made public. I’ll let you know how it goes
WELCOME TO 20 BOYLE LANE
My house is as exciting as ever…..my auntie Haja had a new baby and she’s the cutest. Her name is Hawanatu…This morning my aunty Mabingty was washing out the bottles she uses to sell homemade ginger beer. My mom was hand washing some laundry. My cousin Mabingty was collecting water in a bucket to take to her mom…Aunty Sallay who lives close by. My cousin Sahr, went to church alone….he’s a mormon now….Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints….I laughed….all I could think of was Julie from the Real World.
JOKE OF THE DAY
This morning I looked at my cousin MONCHICHI…it noticed she’s developing eczema on her face. Aunty Mabingty looked at her and said “haven’t I warned you not to use your Haja’s crèmes on your face”? Monchichi: “I don’t use her crèmes”.
Aunty Mabingty: “Then what did I smell on you the other day”
Aunty Mabingty: “Are you sure?” “I smelt crème on your body it wasn’t deodorant”
Monchichi: “I rub the deodorant all over my body and on my clothes so that the smell stays longer
……………….we all laughed…………
Here is a list of everyone who lives in my house
Ibrahim aka Brima…27yr old student
Sahr…………………….29 yr old student
Alpha aka Bedo……….27yr old student
Kabia aka American Kabs or American……older than 30…occupation? Hustler
Koya aka Pa Koya……..18? student
Joseph a.k.a fitta….Alpha’s older brother…..he’s eccentric so says my mom…I say he has undiagnosed mental illness
Bakie a.k.a Mummy
Ramatu aka Mummy K a.k.a my Grandma
Mammy Kadiatu a.k.a new friend of MummyK…..no relation to us
Kadiatu a.k.a grand daughter of Mammy Kadiatu…also no relation to us
Aunty Mabingty + 6 (has four children, a brother, and a child she is taking care of….they don’t live here but they eat here)
Sallay a.k.a Monchichi..12yrold
Hawanatu (4 months old aunty)
Making A GRAND TOTAL: 18+6 = 24
Already this morning an uncle of mine with 8 children came to tell me that he has two children who need to go to college…and that he hasnt been paid in 5 months working for Sierratel as a technician. I promised to take him a bag of rice over the weekend and reminded him that I was going to be working for free in Sierra Leone so I have no income. I will be giving him my brothers’ phone numbers so he can call them in the States.
STAY TUNED……..FOR MORE STORIES FROM 20 BOYLE LANE AND UPDATES ABOUT SIERRA LEONE AND MY EFFORTS TO IMPLEMENT THE TBCS INITIATIVE