I have been in Sierra Leone for a little over 4 months now and I must confess that I was a bit disappointed at the pace at which things started off. Because of the elections it took much longer for my project to materialize. Two months ago I was between being frustrated of waiting, exhausted of hoping, and overwhelmed by the feeling that I needed to head back to new york. I headed back to the big apple for some much needed R&R in the beginning of October and it was just what the doctor ordered.
On a personal level I am extremely happy to be here with my family, my grand ma especially. She says the darnest things. Like for instance the other day, she said “you know, I use to have a lover who was younger than me”….I laughed and I said “I don’t believe you”. We kiss each other every day, to say thank you, good morning or good night. We make my mom really jealous cause we don’t kiss her……hehehe
On separate occasions twice at Paddys and once at Chez Nous people have walked up to me and said…Hey are you that girl from the website? One of them just shook my hand and said thank you…I smiled…it was cool.
I’ve met several other returnees or as I like to say…STAYCEES…working and living in Sierra Leone after several years of living abroad. Most of the people I’ve met who have returned are men and many have confessed about the difficulty of leaving their families behind to try to start businesses in Sierra Leone. They complain that their wives aren’t so keen on the idea of moving back. I even met a guy who had to divorce his wife because she didn’t want to come back to live here. My experience here isn’t much different in that I have a relationship that’s practically been put on hold for me to be here. Though I am not being pressured to return to the States, I am well aware that if I were to stay in Sierra Leone longer than the year that I’ve planned to be here that that may end my relationship. Ah the sacrifices we must make for MAMA SALONE
In this same group of STACEES there are many fake, phony individuals claming to be business men bringing investors and contracts into the country. They can be found at CHEZ NOUS, CAFÉ DE LA ROSE, PADDIES and else where. When you ask them what they are doing in Sierra Leone they reply with vaguest response….”business”…oh really interesting, “what kind of business exactly…what sector” “well my partners are overseas”….okay but what do u do?” “well we’re in telecoms business”. Beware of these posers cause they neither have offices, companies, or businesses. In fact they are unemployed sierra leone hustlers recently returned from where ever cause they couldn’t quite make it in the so called overseas. Of course there are genuine business people here who have returned from the diaspora but the majority of 30-40 something returnees claiming to do business here actually are not…They are really quick to speak of a trip to Dubai or China or some contract worth in the millions of dollars. Also don’t be surprised if you’re sitting next to one of them and their phone rings and they say “A BO NA HIS EXCELLENCY DAY CALL ME SO..FROM YESTERDAY WAY IM DAY MONA ME FO MAKE IM TALK TO ME PARTNA DEM” . My people beware, 419 is very much alive in Sierra Leone
Another thing that some people complain about in Freetown is gossip….that everyone is in everybody’s business passing around the word. There is no privacy….actually there is no separation between the public and the private. Everything is more or less in the public domain. It’s difficult to be discreet when people stare you down as they drive their own cars trying to figure out who is in yours. If you park your car somewhere you best be assured that someone is going to tell you that they saw your car. Many sensible people have to tint their windows for privacy…If they can see your car, they wont be able to see who is in it. One thing that may be adding to the gossip, is the lack of options for entertainment…..personal stories become the cheapest and easiest means to entertain.
I will like to close with a brief discussion of the cars in Freetown. Three years ago, without a doubt the preferred car of choice was a Mercedes. Every other private car in the country had to have been a C class or some other variation of it. Driving around the streets of Freetown today, we would think that we have started producing SUV’s everyone and their mama and cousin who owns a car in Freetown owns an SUV….I think we may have more SUV’s per capita than New York City. I guess some people say they are necessary cause the roads are so bad….but DAMN….how do they manage to buy fill those things up with gas. Even worse what happens when they break down and the mechanics here have no experience fixing your brand you Danali…Anyone who thinks there is no money in this country is surely surely kidding themselves.
Di wan dem way get dem get tay im pass mark. How are the Christmas JAYCEES ever going to compete??? You better ship your ride homie!!!!