Of the ‘jollay’ performance my favorite was the courtship between the female golden and ‘tumbalicious debul’ refusing the advances of her male counterpart, even though she was clearly shaking it to get his attention. The debul, much like many of us Salone gyals, that get made starved for attention, we bluff when we get it. Amazingly, for many of the children and adults present this is one of the rare occasions that they can witness this display of traditional masquerade without fear or apprehension.
As they danced off, the crowd was thrilled to welcome a performance from the ever brilliant National Dance Troope; musicians, singers, dancers, jugglers, contortionists, acrobats, and masters of the dark arts. One such performer was the sand eater who made the squeamish turn away, as he gobbled the sand with both hands as though he were eating couscous only to hit his stomach turn around to defecate the sand back into his hands.
Not to be out performed, the flame thrower after the usual show of drinking what I assume was petrol and blowing fire out into the crowd, repeatedly put the lit torch into his under pants. Never one to shy away from a good show, I tried to get a snap of it, and got close enough to feel the warmth of the fire.
The night continued with nothing but the best, including a live musical performance from Free Radio DJ turned rapper Bassem Ayoub aka Mr. B featuring Alex Fakondo aka Lex Bubble.
The highlight of the entire day’s festivities however, was the parade of beauties and talent by Sierra Leone’s four major fashion brands all led by beautiful innovative young women with diverse perspectives on the Sierra Leonean/African aesthetic (Swank Couture by Jenneh Amara Bangalie, Bico Designs by Isata Kabia, Madam Wokie’s Couture by Mary-Anne KaiKai and finally Aschobi designs by my friend Adama Sallie Kargbo). The crowd flooded the stage area, pulling out phones, and cameras to capture the moment or if you are yours truly to corner the designer and ask for the piece later. In between the defile of each of the designs, children in the audience were invited to the stage to dance; we definitely saw a couple budding Michael Jacksons and Beyonces.