Homecoming and Forgiveness: The Tale of a Photographer’s Return Home
Home… It has been a long 6 years since I was last there, but here I am now, writing about my recent trip there with some friends. Finally.
For all those years, I’ve been making plans to visit, but kept putting it off again and again. Ironically, I didn’t plan this one, so I guess the lesson here is to stop planning and start doing! Anyway, lets continue. My friends in Sierra Leone say I diss Sa Leone a lot, which is true now that I think about it. However, I do this unknowingly, which I think is because of all the things I experienced while in that country. Living between Sierra Leone & Liberia made me experience a variety of wars and civil unrest, but it was while in Sierra Leone that I first experienced an unspeakable civil war, during which I came close to death on several occasions. I was even taken away from my mother to be recruited as a child soldier, but I, luckily, got rescued by a guy who had a huge crush on my older sister. There is no telling where I would be now had he not come to my rescue.
My father travelled to the U.S. when I was three months old, and we have yet to meet. Growing up in Sierra Leone meant always hearing the line, “he looks like his dad”, or “he acts like his dad”, which I hated because I felt I was being compared to a man who abandoned me and most likely didn’t care about raising his son. There’s a way I walk that most people think is bluffing but I’m not. Being raised by a single mom meant she had to work a lot, so most of the responsibilities I came with were transferred to my older sister, who I loved so much, I felt that I always had to be with her. During one of the many times I stubbornly followed her, we were hit by a truck – an accident that led to me being handicapped for a few years. I first had to use a wheelchair for a while, then later started using crutches. Miraculously, I started walking again without any therapy, surgery, or medication, even when doctors believed I wouldn’t have.
With all these painful memories I experienced, the thought of Sierra Leone has usually been attached to something bad upon relocating to Liberia. Even my last visit 6 years ago, was to bury my Grandmamma. Not surprisingly, during this trip, I got seriously ill as soon as we entered Sierra Leone ,which lasted the entire duration of the trip. It was so bad that instead of us having the fun we envisioned, I had to be taken care of by my friends, Randy and Bunu, who made me realize that they have some serious nursing skills. Although I was sick, being in Sierra Leone strangely felt comforting. Like home. Despite all of the painful memories I have associated with Sierra Leone, I am glad to have visited, and for the opportunity to experience it from a different perspective through the eyes of our wonderful and amazing tour guide and buddy, Maama, who dedicated her time to us, taking us literally everywhere. She even bought us kankankan, Sierra Leone’s version of grilled/roasted meat, which turned out to be Randy and Bunu favorite. I also got to see my very close friend Arab, who’s the unofficial Mayor of Freetown after having introduced us to almost everyone in the entire city, and took us to where I consider have the fastest internet and super cool vibe in Freetown, Lovetta’s Kitchen, as well had us us meet the funny and likable Kaata.
Forgiving and forgetting all of the pain and heartbreaks, I am in love again, and it’s with Mama Sa Leone. I can’t wait to go back, and hopefully this time be well enough to go everywhere and have more fun than I can imagine.