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.

Sierra Leone’s 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