Old Town Welcome

Sumbuya is divided into 4 sections, each with a chief. Today I visited the Old Town section—it was a day I’ll never forget. The Old Town chief is the youngest I’ve met—maybe mid forties–good looking guy with very pretty wives.

I asked if I could take some photos of the chief and the kids. I did. With each photo the crowd grew. I don’t think anyone had seen their photo before. Hard to describe the atmosphere—the word ‘ballistic’ comes to mind. The women started dancing and singing for me, so I kept shooting and showing the photos. It was like being at the Church in Freetown, only less Christian.

As I was about to leave the chief silenced everyone. Time for speeches. He was impressed that I was the first white man to walk into his village—on foot! They thought all white men drove in flashy white SUV’s. He presented me with a goat. A fat little goat on a tether. I inquired about the possibility of giving the goat to a “poor person” who had no goats, but I was assured that would be an insult of huge proportions.

The women in my compound danced when we brought home the goat. Spicy goat soup that night. They saved the best parts for me.

Stayed awake. Images of smiling faces—women and kids and old men pointing at pictures of themselves. A plan came to mind: If I walked back to the Old Town village with my laptop I could show my photos as a slide show to music. I could also give the chief a watch—which I had picked up for such an occasion.

So I returned with my friend David Stevens, laptop in hand. I was a tad nervous as I had heard a rumour the chief was thinking of giving me a wife. Everyone gathered under the palapa roofed meeting place—the shade made it easy to see photos on my ‘big screen’. They loved it! Screaming. Whenever someone saw their photo they pointed and danced. I played the music I write to—Justin Rutledge, Bob Marley, some African rhythms. I had a hard time, standing in front of them and  showing the slide show, listening to Justin. Luckily they were so glued to the photos they missed the predictable tears in my eyes.

Another good day. Oh, and the rumours weren’t true. The chief gave me a coconut.


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