Travellers Tales I Say Sierra Leone…You think of what?
In 2015, I decided to make an effort to visit at least one African country each year. What brought about this decision? Well, after I took a study program in Rwanda, I totally fell in love with the place, its scenery as well as its beautiful people. Although this will probably sound cliché, Rwanda actually changed my perspective on life and got me thinking about the constant negative imagery about Africa that’s portrayed by the media. Okay, yes, just like any other country across the globe, African countries do have their fair share of predicaments however, we should not forget that there is so much good and beauty within our African continent.
Having said this, as I prepared to travel to Sierra Leone, all I knew about the country was the civil war and the devastating Ebola outbreak that claimed soo many lives. Yes yes, you are quite right, I was indeed a little apprehensive about my journey considering the Ebola outbreak had just barely been sorted but, I was also excited to travel as I had never been to West Africa.
So the journey to get to Freetown from Johannesburg was rather long. I left Johannesburg and flew to Nairobi, proceeding the following day to Accra in Ghana, thereafter Monrovia in Liberia and finally arriving at Lungi Airport in Sierra Leone. After finally getting through immigration and customs, I purchased my ferry ticket and sailed on the Atlantic Ocean into Freetown. There is definitely something very freeing about this ocean and its breathtaking sight.
As you can imagine, I arrived extremely tired and so on day 1 all I could do was go straight to sleep and all I remember was waking up the following morning in a land with countless minerals, lovely beaches and friendly Krio speaking people. I remember thinking to myself, okay Pezu, this may actually be a fun experience.
Follow my journey as I discovered the beautiful Athens of West Africa: Sierra Leone.
Situated along the Freetown Peninsula and truly breathtaking. I stayed in the Aberdeen area which is a coastal neighborhood within Freetown and towards the end of Aberdeen, there lies the beautiful Lumley Beach. The beachfront is filled with various shops, properties and construction projects that are underway. This beach is the busiest in Freetown and has many different lunch spots and bars. The beach is clean meaning you can actually dive into the ocean for a swim.
Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
This sanctuary is approximately a thirty minute drive out of busy Freetown towards the western rural area of Sierra Leone. Tacugama was established in 1995 and is a rehabilitation and conversation sanctuary. It focuses on the rehabilitation of orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees so that they can one day be sent back into their natural habitat. The sanctuary had over 90 chimpanzees in various forest enclosures.
The tour guides, Joseph and Mike were very knowledgeable about not only the sanctuary but information on chimpanzees in general. I went on a perimeter tour of the sanctuary as well as the resource centre which provides information on the history of the sanctuary and chimpanzees. I should not forget to mention that that the chimpanzees at this place throw rocks and stones towards visitors as a way of marking their territory and believe me, their aim is impressively accurate… Should you ever visit this sanctuary, make sure you stay alert to avoid unwanted accidents.
Now let’s draw our focus to the food. Crown Xpress was my favourite lunch spot. This little gem is located in the middle of town on Wilkinson Road and is easy to access. It is well known for its modern, clean interior, friendly staff and yummy delicious fried chicken. Their menu integrates various types of foods from pastas, sandwiches, wraps, salads and pizzas. My favourite items on their menu were their Chicken Pesto, Hip Hop Salad, Pepperoni pizza and Tandoori chicken – just saying.
The Cotton Tree (Ceiba pentandra) is a historical landmark located at a roundabout in Freetown’s CBD. It is not known how long the tree has existed for but it is believed that it could be over 200 years old.
According to Sierra Leonean history, the tree is of great significance as it is believed that after the emancipation of African American slaves who had fought for the British during the American war of independence, the former slaves settled at this very site. They are believed to have landed on the shoreline and walked up to this tree that stood above the bay, where they gathered around in a large group and held a thanksgiving service singing and praying to God for their freedom to the free land.
Sierra Leone National Museum
This museum is located very close to the Cotton Tree. It provides a collection of important Sierra Leonean art, cultural ornaments, artifacts, traditional dolls and information of the paramount chiefs of the different districts around Sierra Leone.
Malama Thomas Street Market
Also known as the best place to purchase African fabric such as Ankara and Kente. When I got to this ultra-busy market, there were so many people and so much was going on. I went through most of the market just having a look through the various stores, market stands and looking at fabrics as well as finding out the general pricing of the fabric. Finally I popped into a store called FatyK within the market where I met Abdul. Abdul and his sister own the store and travel throughout West Africa sourcing different African print fabrics. .Everybody loves a good buy and Abdul was also kind enough to give me a discount for the fabric purchased.
Tokeh Sands Beach Resort
This beach is truly beautiful with its white sand against the impeccable backdrop of the green vegetation on the mountains, providing such beautiful scenery. The beach resort has a restaurant and provides accommodation with African hut inspired chalets.
Mad Moudz Fashion Show
I had the opportunity to attend the Mad Moudz Fashion Show that was held at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel. Mad Moudz Designs is a fashion clothing line established by a young and talented Sierra Leonean designer. The designer showcased his ‘Sparkle Collection’ which included sequin designed garments, eye-catching cuts and flamboyant colours. The
Miss Sierra Leone 2014, Magaret Murray.
So there you have it lovlies, this was my Sierra Leone experience, and I arrived safely back in Johannesburg with my health intact.
Guest Blogger & Photographer: Pezu Catherine Mukwakwa
Share your perceptions for a minute. What do you immediately think of when you hear the word Sierra Leone?
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