Domestic and Sexual Violence…and the culture of Silence in Salone

It will start with a single slap. speak up!

Our society is a patriarchal one, which means men are the head and leaders of the home or the family. We grew up in a society where our mothers will do anything to protect our fathers, uncles, and brothers at any cost, even if that means shutting us up or pushing us out to the streets. Rape and other violence against women had been on a constant rise since the year 2000. Even with all the constant cries and intervention of the government, public, NGOs. We have not seen any rape case treated with urgency and actually making the perpetrators felt the true wrath of the law. Neither have we seen any decline in these figures

Rape is prevalent in our society and I believe that these things really do happen every day in our communities, schools, universities, workplaces e.t.c. We just choose to ignore, pay less attention or give a blind eye with the saying ” ar know say e uncle de sleep with am or beat am but nor to me business”. Rape and violence had always been there, but only coming to light now because of the awareness, education, access to social media, etc. As citizens, we all have a part to play to help get rid of the vice for good.

I am not a rape victim but I am a victim of sexual molestation and that happens just when I was about five/six years and those images are locked in my memory. I didn’t understand then and I was manipulated, touched by people who are family and we’re supposed to protect me. They asked me to touched them in places. Up till now just thinking and writing about it I am disgusted. I have shared this story with only shared two people, and one of those two people is my husband. This just goes to show how people don’t talk about these issues because of shame and stigmatization.

Firstly, the fear of stigma, shame, and victimization of the victims prevents them from coming forward. It is ironic that sometimes even the older women will not believe the victims, or even if they do will tell them outrightly to keep quiet about it and not to mention to a single soul.

Stop and Help

Our girls are been violated by the very people who are supposed to protect them. How can you rape your own daughter, niece, cousin, sister, friend? The feeling of entitlement and the audacity to just look at the opposite sex and think you should force yourself on her and snatch her dignity and pride is what I still cannot wrap around my head. As women and mothers let’s be on the watch for our daughters they deserve a life too. Their bodies are theirs and it is their decision to maintain and keep. Let’s be vigilant, don’t allow your daughters to sit on any man’s lap, don’t send them alone to older men “go and collect money for me ba to Karim”. Go and collect it yourself. Don’t send them at night. Talk with them, let them know it’s inappropriate for them to be touched and it’s also not right if someone asked her to touched them. Above all women must stop covering for their men, fathers, sons at the expense of other women, girls, daughters, etc. Report anything you notice. Let’s get it right with our sons; let’s raise men not rapist; let’s raise men, not boys who raised their hands on women; let’s raise men who will protect our girls and not prey on them. Speak up the Silence must stop!!!

Violence could be Physical, Mental, Emotional and Psychological.

Salone men you can do better. Raping, molesting and hitting the very ones you should guard only goes to show how cowardly and weak some of these perpetrators are. Men who rape lack real self-esteem and so using force on women give them validation rather than satisfaction. They are excited by the rush and the feeling of power and control. Let’s take that control from them by reporting these cases. The government takes that control away from them by treating these cases with urgency and letting the perpetrators face stiff penalties, including life imprisonment or death, will go a long way in sending a message that they mean business. Let’s stop making excuses. These victims are not calling on these men to be raped. When you go to the beach and see women clad in a bikini will you go and rape them? Just because they put on a bikini. Clothing or the lack of it does not warrant someone to be raped. Most times in this household where rape happens the girls are mostly covered.

Let’s join hands as a nation to eradicate this madness. We need the support of everyone, including our men. If we notice any of these acts in our communities please let’s report it. We all should be vigilant in protecting our young girls. They deserve it, Speak up! the Silence must stop!

Sierra Leone is ours to make. We can only be successful at this if we raise a strong and healthy generation of men and women; physically and mentally they will be able to excel in everything. Let’s heal our mothers, sisters, and daughters. Let’s protect them. Women are the backbone of every society, they multi-task and juggle, they are caregivers. They give so much and ask for nothing in return. All we ask, as mothers are for our men to support us in this journey to eradicate or reduce the rape statistics in Sierra Leone. Speak up! the silence must stop! Lonta✌✌peace out @dasalone_titi

#itsthesalonewayornowayatall#

©By Rahima Vandy-Kargbo know as Dasalonetiti Rahima

https://www.dasalone-titi.com

The Vulnerability of young girls in our universities.

The rate at which young girls at our Universities are in a hurry to get and acquire vanity is alarming. They can do anything for the latest iPhone, and the trendiest, softest, curliest human hair weave/weft or wigs. This is in itself a whole topic. which as citizens of this nation we have failed ourselves and our young girls. Dating older men or dating many men at the same time is the order of the day for them. Going on trips with them, sometimes even out of the country. Some of their parents, of course, are usually unaware of all this especially those from rich backgrounds.

For some of them from poorer homes, their parents sometimes would help pack their bags for such trips, and heartily remind them not to forget to bring gifts. Our girls have so much potential but are in a rush and in competition with their peers for meaningless things that will no longer matter in their lives after university. If only they knew what’s ahead of them, the power they would have as educated women of this country. This trend has been on the increase over the years. It is caused by so many different factors: bad governance and the resulting poor economic situation; neglect of responsibilities by parents; access to the internet and the consumption of everything on it whether fake or not; girls want to look like their favourite celebrities, peer pressure, etc.

Firstly, the failure of government over the years to create the necessary socio-economic environment for citizens to thrive and earn a decent income that meets the basic needs of their families is one of the major factors. Income levels are abysmally low in the country and therefore parents are finding it very difficult to meet the educational and social demands of their children. These girls from poorer homes are forced to fend for themselves

Parents are failing in their responsibilities to cater for their children, especially the girl child who needs so many things to upkeep herself. I know so many girls who are seeing themselves through university because the parents are not economically sound and don’t have the means to pay for them. Most times even members of their family who have the resources won’t help. The only one who would come in to salvage the situation is the boyfriend, fiance or sugar daddy. This is the beginning of most of the problems of our girls, as they are left in the hands of strangers who in some cases would abuse them, knowing fully well that the girl and her family solely depend on him.

Most parents don’t have a clue about some of the challenges their daughters are going through in school; they don’t know how some of these lecturers, teachers and male students are preying on them. Yet still, they will call their daughters for feeding, health care, rent, and even school fees for their younger siblings. These parents know their daughters are in school with no other source of income. Where do they think these girls are getting the money from? Is that even fair to ask your child that you are not paying for through school, for all these things? And some of them really do think this is normal. Asking these girls for help, without an iota of shame and putting them through unnecessary pressure. Parents let learn to question our girls. where are they getting some of the items, resources in their possession, that we did not buy or give to them? Check out their friends, talk to them about college and life after college.

Our girls should also understand that they are not in competition with no one but themselves. Some girls try so hard to keep up with their friends, enrolling in social clubs and putting themselves under pressures financially to meet the demands of these clubs. Don’t get me wrong, social clubs in themselves are not bad, but the demands of some of these clubs are not for girls coming from poor homes. Girls must get their priorities right. If your parents are already struggling to pay your fees and meet your basic social needs why add to your burden by enrolling in a social group that will demand fortunes from you or would require you to dress in a certain way. Most girls, in trying to keep up with such social demands will be forced into having financier, mainly in the form of a sugar daddy who will be footing the bills in addition to their ‘regular’ boyfriends. Ladies be yourselves if you don’t come from a family that can finance your extra social activities stay off some social groups that will force you into ‘student prostitution’. Being at the university is one major milestone of beating poverty. Don’t keep up with the Joneses if you are not a Jones. In a few years all these things you will be able to afford. Some of these men won’t even consider you after a year. They will be looking for the new kid on the block. Some of them you won’t want people to associate you with them, because you would have grown so much. Strive for independence financially, mentally, economically and spiritually. Nobody can take that away from you.

Young girls, this is Sierra Leone your story is not unique. You are just like the rest of us. You taking care of yourself and your family does not warrant you to be flaunting and giving your body to all available men out there. Hardship should not be a trigger to join every orgy or every sexual escapade out there, with men old enough to be your father. Don’t be in a rush to take care of your parents, take care of yourself first and your future. Do you know there are so many things you can do? Look around your campus. What is it that you all need on campus, and cannot access? Look for entrepreneurship gaps within your campus and fill those gaps. Use that wig money you collected from your fiance, boyfriend or sugar daddy and start a business, make use of the opportunities you have now. You know why? These men will definitely be looking for younger, finer and fresher girls that are just entering University. You’re no longer important to them, you’re too old. My sister, you will be dumped, take heed of my advice and take charge of your future.

Salone women be content, be patient, be wise, be brave, above all be strong. Never doubt yourself. You had it in you just search deep and be yourself. You will find all the strength you need to persevere and to break barriers. You are resilient. Peace out✌✌✌@dasalone_titi.

#itssalonewayornoway#

©By Rahima Vandy-Kargbo known as Dasalonetiti Rahima

https://www.dasalone-titi.com

Sierra Leone young entrepreneurs…they deserve to be known

Meet Alusine Petema Sheriff. CEO of Big things Company Limited which is a poultry Farm at Mange Road Mabanta Village Gbanti Chiefdom, Makeni, Bombali District. He is a vibrant hardworking young farmer. He has been a household name in the poultry business in Makeni and its environs for fresh, organic farm eggs for hotels, motels, restaurants, and households. We had a tete a tete discussion with him and we are excited to share that with you all.

Q. Big thing’s give readers a brief background about yourself.

A. I am from a very humble home. Both parents were teachers. I grew up in a rough and impoverish neighbourhood know as “Portuguese town” constituency 126 wards 433. As a family, we struggled, as my parent’s meagre salaries were never enough to care about us. My mother has to complement their salary by doing petty trading and that requires us to be selling for her just so to make ends meet. I had a nickname in secondary school and university because of my love for music. I was known then as “Don Co”. Upon entering the university I founded the music group INDIGENES with two of my talented friends. Indigenous was one of the best music group in the history of Sierra Leone. Then the music industry was dominated by dropout and been that we were all at the university we were able to change the narratives. Our songs top the chart for weeks leading to indigenes winning all the RnB awards in 2005/2006 music year. I graduated in 2007 Bachelor of Art. That same year the music business and industry lost its momentum and started a steady decline. Owing to poor management and industry pressure we could not hold it together so fall out, went our separate ways. Going solo was never easy, after three years of no record deal or shows I have to make up my mind to leave that dream of mine. So I immediately start looking for a job which was also not easy. So I had to take some IT courses before I was able to secure one as a promotion supervisor. Working for people for me was the best thing that happened to me as I got to learn a lot of things that I am using today to run my poultry. I had worked for two privately owned businesses and one NGO when I decided, its time in 2014 to start my own business. So I resigned and then start the process of establishing Big things poultry.

Q. Why poultry in the first place?

A. I chose poultry after a series of prayer and fasting, this might sound cliche but I am a very prayerful person and the holy spirit dropped it in my heart. Sierra Leone has high infant mortality and malnutrition rates, diseases and low life expectancy; mainly due to low levels of protein in our diets. After a series of research, I realized that eggs are one of the most nutritious food in the world and the fact that they are cheap and affordable make this industry more attractive to me. I thought if I go into this business I can produce large quantities of the egg from mainly organic feed components, it will go a long way in solving some of the aforementioned health-related issues most people encounter from not getting enough protein or from consumption of rotten frozen imported eggs.

Q. Why Makeni?

A. I chose Makeni because of the increasing economic activity in makeni at that time, the increase in the expatriate community around the Bombali district due to mining and other industrial activities. Malnutrition is also an issue in the district. In short, there was a massive market for eggs in makeni and its surroundings.

Q. Describe your leadership skills and experience?

A. I started not knowing anything about poultry or the business aspect of it. I was just fueled by my passion, so by God’s grace, I was taught the principles of business the hard way by employing families and friends I almost lost everything before making the hard decision of letting them go and not mixing business with pleasure. I have also learned to at least get the basic knowledge of any business you want to enter into or invest in. I am a people’s person and a good listener so these are some of the skills that have helped me to this day.

New structures for expansion

Q. How long have you been in the poultry business?

A. I started in 2014 with relatively small savings and help from my parents. We had to purchase the land, clear and build the structures for the chicks, office, store, mill, procure feeders, drinkers, feed and a day old chicks.

Dasalone_titi, flanked by bigthings and Idris

Q. Did you get the support of your parents? As most times our parent wants us to be Lawyers, Doctors, or Accountants.

Man of the moment Alusine Petema Sheriff alias Bigthings, alian Don Co.

A. Sure! In the first place, the two teachers; my parents out of the little salaries were able to send me through school up to university. They were there for me through my music days and after college when I could not get a job. Even after securing a job they were not bothered about stressing me for money and that was how I was able to save so much to finance my startup, they still support me through prayers and advice. They are the best parents anyone could ask for and I love them.

Chickens with their drinkers.

Q. What your motivation or what keeps you going every day?

A.this entity was mainly established out of the twin desire to provide fresh farm eggs and affordable food for the people of the Nation and to create jobs for the youths of this country because I know first hands how it is to be jobless, so these are still my motivation for doing what I do.

Q. How are you able to get and feed the birds?

A. When we started, we got our first 4000-day old chicks locally from Pa Jah and IJ limited Company, but we also do get some from oversea’s companies. Drinkers we get from Guinea and feeders the rest of the drinkers were made locally. To feed the birds we really around farmers who are very supportive. We feed them maize, rice husk, and some seashells. Other components like concentrate and wheat bran we bought from suppliers in Freetown.

Q. How do you keep them healthy and protected from diseases and breakout?

A. Mortality in any farmhouse is inevitable. But notwithstanding it must not rise above certain levels. Any mortality above 2% within 2 days is a cause for concern. In order to reduce the risk of high mortality rate, a strict vaccination schedule has been developed for the sub-region which, we follow to the letter. Vaccination usually starts from a day old at the hatchery and continued in the farmhouse, we treat them with vitamins in their feeds also. We have strict biosecurity measures to totally avert these outbreaks or minimize them as much as we can.

Q. What are some of your personal achievement?

A. I can proudly say through my business I have been able to further my studies. I have just completed my MBA Entrepreneurship Altis Business School, the Sacred Heart Catholic University of Milan and the University of Makeni. I won the 2017 entrepreneurship award organized by Africa and life by design. We also operate an out-grower scheme with a membership of over 100 poultry farmers in the surrounding communities and others within the northern regions. We have also brought electricity in the community making power accessible to over hundreds of households. We have a total of 5.5 acres of land yet to be utilized. I am also the first in the country to run a poultry training course for youths. I have also established the big things entertainment multimedia and advertisement companies that aims at creating a platform for youth and local celebrities to develop and showcase their talents. Big things had also partnered with a young women empowerment group “awakening women/girls the only miss high school north which is personally funded. I have as part of my cooperate social responsibilities a fund that provides egg for children that are under the age of two within my community to fight against malnutrition. Big things poultry is also amongst the first top ten runners in the poultry industry for the year 2018 in Sierra Leone. I am the founder and chairman of the northern region pig and poultry farmers association, Sierra Leone. Finally, I have undergone a series of mentorship and business development and management training from NGO’s like Cordaid Sierra Leone, Adam Smith International SOBA Project, Pum Netherlands, Kepro, Hendrix Genetics e.t.c.

Q. What are your positive Moment or Success stories?

A. When I win awards like the youth entrepreneurship award. When I see my employees coming to work very early and happy and that we all can contribute to national developments. When Ministers and key stakeholders in the Ministry of Agriculture came to see my poultry. When I was asked to represent Sierra Leone in an Ecowas meeting and finally when I get to see every day what’s started in my mind as thought is alive and running that is, the “Big things poultry”.

Q. What are some of your challenges?

A. Increase in feed cost due to a yearly scarcity of main maize during the dry season. Which can effects cash flow and profit margins? Access to reliable suppliers of a day old chicks within the country and the subregion, 95% of poultry farmers get their chicks from holland at a high cost and inconvenient timing because of MOQ policies. Lack of appropriate machinery to conduct effective operation e.g. mixers. Another challenge is also the lack of trained and qualified veterinary personnel and outlets to procure medicines during the time of outbreaks.

Q. Where do you see Big things Poultry in the next five years?

A. To be the leading producer of fresh and affordable farm eggs in Sierra Leone, exporting the excesses to neighbouring countries and beyond owing to highly organic nature of our products.

Q. Advice to young people readers out there who are anticipating to go into the poultry business like you.

A. Poultry is a very profitable venture and according to statistics $40,000,000.00 is spent annually to import eggs into this country. Meaning for an even if we are able to only take care of the national demand that will be $ 40,000,000.00 in the pockets of Sierra Leoneans. But also just bear in mind that poultry is a capital intensive project so one must be ready not just financial, but mentally and physically ready. And must have some knowledge of how to run poultry. Lastly, talk to people who have been in the business for long, surf the web or better still take hands-on training on-site in a poultry farm, volunteer or enrol in any poultry training course. At Big things we offer full, half and basic training courses on poultry management for starters. You can reach us on the following; email at bigthingsdon@live.com, facebook@bigthings donor call us on +23278882777.

You don’t just sit there because there is no job. Take baby steps in building your dreams so you can be an employer like Alusine. Salone youth be like Alusine Petema Sheriff. There is no job available for the number of graduates leaving university every year. Take charge of your destinies and take charge of Sierra Leone to be self-motivated, go get what you want in life, you can do it just believe in yourself. I am talking to you reading this, yes you! You are in control take the wheels. #itssalonewayornoway# peace✌out.@dasalone_titi

©By Rahima Vandy Kargbo otherwise known as dasalonetiti Rahima

https://http://www.dasalone-titi.com

Sierra Leone Native Languages-Are They Dying Out?

There are about 16 indigenous tribes in Sierra Leone. I stand to be corrected and we have the; Mandingos, Sherbros, Temnes, Mendes, Limbas, Lokos, Fulas, Creoles, Kurankos, Konos, Kissi’s, Yalunkas, Krus, Krims, and lastly Vais. I don’t even know if I have ever heard some of these minor tribes in my life. I don’t know if you have noticed but I have, the alarming rate of which Sierra Leoneans are refusing to speak their native languages or the fact that we’re not teaching a whole new generation of children how to speak these languages. Do you think there is a threat of extinction among these tribes? Why are people losing interest in most of them, especially, our generation and the generation after us? Our parents or elders seem oblivious to this trend or they just don’t care, period. You will hear them joyfully referring to us as British Temne, or British Limba as the case may be. Who told them Britain has native Limba or Mende people? Some of these tribes can only be found within the Mano River Union and for that reason only we should try or use any means possible to preserve them as people.

This trend is not unique to only Sierra Leone but I think ours is worse. The rate at which these languages are dying is very alarming and a cause for concern. Of course, some may argue that it’s the effect of colonialism, which is very true to some extent don’t get me wrong, the effect of bad governance and the economic situation too has also influenced this trend, as people have been migrating to big towns and cities to seek a better life. They move to these urban centres and of course, have to learn the common means of communication which is Krio thereby forgetting to speak their native tongue. They’ll have kids and the struggle of fending for them leads them to leave the house very early and returned very late, no time absolutely to teach this generation of kids their mother tongue, to get them fully rooted in our norms, cultures, and relics.

We use to hear stories of our brothers and sisters in the diaspora, of how they used to teach their children who have never been to Sierra Leone to speak their mother tongues but not anymore. What’s the problem? Where did we get it wrong? To tell you the truth this has lead to most of our troubles in Sierra Leone. There is not that sense of belonging anymore. We are losing the richness in our diversity, the tolerance for it all as Sierra Leoneans. People are losing themselves to modernization we prefer speaking English to our kids, which is good but why not teach them the English and Kru, Vai, or Yalunka at the same time. Instead of just the Krio or English which are just reminders of our troubled pasts, with all due respect to our Creole people. Do you know, to teach a child that early two or three languages play an important role in the child’s brain and intellectual development: such as helping them concentrate and multitask apart from the basic fact of them being bilingual and multilingual and the capability to analyze different ideas and thought at a go.

Another positive of learning this generation of youths our local languages is that it will help us restore or protect them from extinction. They will be able to connect to their roots and ancestors. It will keep them glued to their heritage, as it will serve as a constant reminder of our journey as a nation. Our native languages bring and boost our sense of belonging, which so many of us had lost along the way. We go to the provinces and act as if we all that, and or superior to them just because we speak Krio and they don’t. we don’t bother with learning from them instead we respond in Krio if we are spoken to in our native languages, so much so that people in this hinterland are also picking up the habit of not speaking their dialect. One can only get the aged or those who had never been to these urban towns to speak their tongues. It’s a sad truth but we are all to blame. Diversity is good but the significance of keeping these languages alive can never be overemphasized in terms of the enrichment of our cultures and societies.

To those Sierra Leoneans living abroad please go back to the old method of speaking your native languages to your kids at home. This can help them feel more connected to you as their parents and their relatives in Salone. Give them native names with meanings even if it’s a middle name, rather than all these co-join meaningless names.

So far only a few tribes in Sierra Leone has been able to teach and pass down their tribes from one generation to the other with all the things that it comes with. The Fula’s have really tried in maintaining their rich culture, traditions, and tribe. Some may argue that it is because they are the most enclosed ethnic group in the country. This is true to some extent but we can learn the positive things in keeping our tribes alive from them. The Temnes and the Mendes are slowing struggling behind the Fullas to Keep their native languages. We have so many tribal unions so what are they doing to keep these languages alive?

If we as parents cannot teach our children our native languages because we ourselves cannot speak them. Let not fail this new generation of kids, as our parents did us. Let’s advocates the government and the private schools around, to see how best they can add these languages to the school curriculum. Our kids could be taught in the school system from preschool to high school. Parent with the resources, look for people who could offer home classes in these tribes for your kids, you can even join in if you have the time. Instead of spending all the long school holiday at home this year make plans to send them to the villages to learn. Some of the youth you had finished college or university with no job for the past year’s, yet very fluent in your local language have you thought of starting something in your community in this field. You never know until you try. We all have to work to bring Salone where it was before the war. Salone is ours to nurture and grow and we all must play our part as citizens, it is on our shoulders rest this heavy burden. Peace out.✌✌

#knowthyselfsalonepeople#

@By Rahima Vandy-Kargbo otherwise known as dasalonetiti Rahima

https://www.dasalone-titi.com

Salone Beautiful Women….trendy,stylish and modest

Today the 4th of June 2019 is an exceptional day for me. Apart from the fact that our brothers and sisters are celebrating Eid Mubarak after 29 days of fasting and observing the month of Ramadan. Two of my beautiful divas are also celebrating their natal day, so you see why I said today is a beautiful day. Happy birthday shout out to you my people Isatu Kamara & Yassin Bangura. My social media timelines are lit with exceptional and gorgeous African attires by our Muslim family and friends; from bazins, gara ties, waxes, laces, and other beautiful kaftan and abayas.

I have also realized that Fashion and beauty have nothing to do exposing oneself, going nude or posting nudes pictures on social media as women. I was so overjoyed by all my sisters and brothers, no ashoke(gele) which we borrowed from our Nigerian counterparts, and we are now claiming it, as if, it was ours to claim. Salone, we are beautiful people, no one needs to endorse that for us. Let’s embrace our culture, let embrace our attires, let’s embrace our style, our roots, above all let’s embrace modesty. Why should we resign to wearing all these beautiful dresses and styles, I have seen today to Fridays only, is what I don’t get. I trust we will definitely get there one day. By the way, feel free to feast your eyes on these Salone beauties in their beautiful and modest regalias.

Mariam Seray Bayoh
Isatu Kamara
Kadiatu Kallon and Amiera
Fatmata Porreh Bangura and family
Angela Sankoh Swaray
Salamatu Neneh Kamara Smith
Adama Koroma
Jaka Mansaray
Fatim Koya Conteh
Salma Bah
Isatu Bah
Olabisi Tejan-Cole
Bella Barrie
The ever gorgeous Bella

Ever Gorgeous Kadiatu Jalloh
Maria Kamara and her minie

Now tell me aren’t they beautiful? Can’t you see what true beauty is even as covered up as they are?

Let’s encourage ourselves to promote the positive things about our culture and country as Sierra Leoneans. We must tell our own stories, by so doing we are able to tell it as it is; factually, truthfully. We have allowed other people or foreigners to tell our own stories for so long. If a Sierra Leonean is telling a Salone story he or she will tell it as it is; factually and truthfully in a manner, only us can understand. Though others can relate. wi go even tell wi neiba den say ‘una nor go understand it’s a salone thing’. let’s bring morality back to the centre, let’s promote our fashion and culture above all let’s promote modesty. Less is more they say and you can testify with the pictures above.

Many thanks to all the beautiful ladies who have graced my blog..continue to be this beautiful and gorgeous always. Happy Eid Mubarak everyone!!!

#saloneyouthknowthyself# peace out✌✌

©Rahima Vandy Kargbo otherwise known as dasalonetiti Rahima

https://www.dasalone-titi.com

Sierra Leone Weddings (Salone weddings)

I have seen a lot of weddings since I was a young girl in Sierra Leone. I really use to love weddings, but not anymore. Since we started doing other people’s weddings like ours and replacing it with something else. Have we ever wondered why our stories hardly ever make the news or why they don’t make news more often? the reason being we are not authentic at all. How do we as Sierra Leoneans dress for our traditional weddings that is authentically ours? that as soon as strangers see it they can tell we are Sierra Leoneans. We do our headwraps with gele-Nigerian traditional head tie-we spend so much money on expensive laces and to get them designed like Nigerians. The curse of social media right? Everyone has a phone nowadays and can access Naija wedding. Nigerian culture is good don’t get me wrong and the people are warm and friendly. They themselves will not miss any opportunity to uphold, uplift, showcase their cultures and traditions. That is why they are known all around the globe for their weddings. They don’t need our help to promote their culture, they definitely can do it for themselves. Ghanaians use the gele as Nigerians but will never see them use anything but kente(Kante) for their traditional weddings and men doing the wrapper over their bare body. Ivorians, Guineans, Gambians can all be identified by their weddings but not Sierra Leoneans. What is wrong with our gara tie-dye, our print, with our oku lapper, with our Batik, Brillion,(wi country Klos) docket & lappa, kabbaslot? We know times are changing and we should be changing with the time. Let’s get our local fabrics style in fashionable ways, work with big producers or suppliers of these materials to see how best they could be modernized adding stones, glitz, pearls, shimmer to make them attractive.

I believe as a youth of this country. Mama Salone is ours to build because if we don’t our children will suffer the most. Let us develop our identity, let’s not make the mistake of our parents, yes! I know the war destroyed some of our traditions and culture the very fabric of our identity but the war is way in our past. Let’s stop with the excuses, let’s stop feeling sorry for ourselves, we are known as a resilient nation we can do anything if we put our minds to. Let’s build our identity around our weddings; the way we dress we can also use it to tourism. Let’s build our brand or rather let’s rebrand our wedding culture, let’s stop using the gele commonly called ashokeh. Let’s stop promoting other cultures and start rebranding ours that can be more attractive to us Sierra Leone and to the rest of the world; youth are the drivers of trends, the most active users of the internet and social media. I believe we can do it if we all work together.

I am truly looking forward to the first traditional wedding that will truly incorporate all of these tiny details that are differentiate us from the rest of the world. The gumbay dance, doctor Olloh music, good old days huh? #bringbackourweddings#bringbackSalone.

©By Rahima Vandy-Kargbo otherwise known as dasalonetiti Rahima.

https://www.dasalone-titi.com

Sierra Leone Politics and the Divide

I voted for the first time in 2012 with no vast experience or understanding of my civic right or what it truly means. Politics, in general, seem way different now to me. Sierra Leoneans act as if God programmed them to either be Sierra Leone people’s Party or All People’s Congress supporter like robots. C’mon now, my people! This SLPP and APC’s partisan revenge politics is what is destroying the unity we once shared. And we have the power to send a message to both political parties come 2023 election. The power is in our hands, the power is in our votes.

My belief is, as a nation we need a fresh start, we can’t deny the fact that this country is divided along tribal and regional lines. Anybody who refuses to see and accept this is a total hypocrite and not a patriot ‘and we go sweh’. This should not even be the case in this country period. Being a descendant from the largest ethnic group from the north; maternal side and that of the largest ethnic group in the east; paternal side. I know the emotional struggles that come with this and in such conflict, we are the biggest losers. No one asks us how it feels, no sides trust us. People just assume it works well for us and they move on, but no! we suffer a lot from “in the middle syndrome” and most of you don’t know an iota of how that feels, but, it’s the most confusing and lonely place to be.

I have been judged by my surname before and it’s not a fun feeling. you know there are names the moment you hear them you know the ethnicity and the region they belong? yeah, I have such maiden name and so in 2010/2011, there was a scholarship assign to the then-first lady office. Which a prominent female politician of the then party in governance was assigned to be in charge of. She is late now and off course she and my mother discuss how I need the financial help so she promised to help. My mother then called me, harassed me to bring all my school documents and certificates to go see the said late woman (agbaba) in charge. We went there and was warmly welcomed by her, after sharing greetings with my mothers in their local dialect, which I could strenuously understand they switched back to krio (all man yone).

My mother then collected my documents from me and gave to the late woman and immediately after opening and seeing my eastern region surname everything changed her countenance and her voice in particular. She was like, her words exactly ‘den wan ya na dem people dem bin de say we Pekin dem nor de learn book, so this scholarship is strictly for we yone them’ my mother was shocked! and said ‘me wey carry am nine months and born am nor to d north ar komot?’ And the woman replied, “but her Father is a from the eastern region”. My mother continues her outcry. But we discuss prior about her, you said we should come see you and you would help. She answers, yes! I didn’t know she is from the east. My mother then signals me to get up, we exchanged goodbyes and left without saying anything to each other for a while. I was so hurt I cried but definitely did not give the late woman the pleasure of seeing me cry, so I held on to my tears as much as I could before unleashing the rain at the foot for the hill [laugh]. okay, I didn’t even mention the hill we climbed to get to that woman’s place at Tengbeh Town. I could sense the shame, hurt and embarrassment in my mother’s voice when she finally gathered the strength and courage to utter the following words “me pekin bear,lef for a cry! d God wey don bring this far go see you through college, E goes finish ein job”. We parted ways because she was living in the west end of Freetown while I lived in the east with my father. I kept thinking, why should my name be a basis for screening to get an opportunity in Sierra Leone, as a Sierra Leonean? Long story short I did not get the scholarship because of my popular eastern region name.

This experience is not one-sided, As I have heard so many stories from others with similar experiences. Ordinary citizens who knew nothing of the bad politics in Sierra Leone and who are not politicians go through these things every day. Is this the Sierra Leone we want for our children and grandchildren? Where is this country going? Why should your name or the region you are from determines the benefits you get, or entitled to as a citizen in this country?

Sierra Leone is for all of us; not the personal property of either APC or SLPP. The rate at which people are losing their job currently I have never seen before, technocrats, not politicians, just because of their names and the region they are from. This revenge (turn am gie u, do me ar do u politics) will take us nowhere it will just further the gap and divide, and we don’t want that for our selves, our children or children’s.

Let’s come together as Sierra Leoneans and bring healing to this nation. Let us don’t forget to pray for a unifier in our beloved nation. Someone who would bridge the gap and divide between this country and the hurts in our hearts. People will say, oh! na only two parties we get na Salone any third wan nor go survive. It won’t survive because we keep voting for the same people just different political party names. Scrubbing old salt container and storing sugar in it after every ten years. It’s the same cup! for Christ sake, only the content inside is altered.

The funny thing is, these people will continue to rule us as they see fit. Another thing is when one party is in power they send all their kids abroad to go get a better education and for them to get the necessary exposure and edge. Stacked as many resources as possible, during their tenure that will last them the next ten years in opposition wilderness. At the end of their years in opposition, they will come again, this time, with their children and grandchildren occupying big positions in these MDA’s or a new Public Sector Agency(ies) establish for them to head. Our brothers and sisters will still collect chicken change le 30000 and T-shirts jump in the streets at any slight incitement by these politicians. You can never see their children on any of these riots. Bo dis e morna ooooo.

Salone people guard and guide your children, wives, husbands, brothers, and sisters. They are the future. If you are saying you were born in one political party and will die at that party, you are one of Sierra Leone’s biggest problem. Have you ever asked yourself why should you die for a particular political party? Are you okay with the roads in this country? Are you okay with the health system? Are you okay with the bread and butter issue? Are you okay with the continual increase in prices? Prices never come down in the country except for fuel once in a while. what about our educational sector? were students now feels it their basic human right or their entitlement to spy, buy grades, university results and its okay. Are you okay with our agricultural sector? we are blessed with fertile soil but still cannot produce to feed ourselves not to talk of exporting. Are you okay with our tourism industry? Other countries depend solely on tourism. we are blessed with white sand beaches and beautiful landscapes yet we don’t benefit from it as a nation. Are you okay with our mines and minerals industry? some of the biggest diamonds of this world have been found in Sierra Leone but where has that taking us, as a nation? We have gold, silver, bauxite, iron ore, zirconia, coltan, granite, rubber, cocoa, timber and so much more, but how have the above blessings reflect in our lives as Salone people? From 1961 to date how much has the ordinary Sierra Leonean benefited from these minerals. So after answering all the above questions, as a patriot, do you still want to die for a political party?

Let’s educate ourselves, reorientate ourselves then get down to our communities, towns, villages and start educating our people. Only God and fools don’t change. We need somebody or a political party that will heal this nation and its people. I keep saying this, the only thing helping us or the only blessing covering us; is the intermarriages because we cannot hurt our husbands, wives, uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters and our children. A word for the wise is enough. Peace✌️

#Salone youth know thyself#

©Rahima Vandy kargbo otherwise known as dasalonetiti Rahima

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