I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where I lived for eleven years. I left when the city became unsafe to live in due to civil war. The war had been raging in parts of the country for years until it reached Freetown, the capital city in 1997. I find myself there again, after 16 years. I did visit a couple of times during this period, however this time I am staying for one month with my brother and his family.
Although I’ve visited Freetown several times before, I never really did the things I needed to do. You see, I spent all my childhood in one house in Murray Town, from which I was suddenly snatched. There was no time to say goodbye to my friends, teachers, or the life I would never get to live. So, after fleeing the country for many years, coming back to it always felt like a journey of self-discovery that I never dared start. The first couple of times I visited, I had the chance to see my childhood house but not my toys that where thrown away. I had the chance to see my old maths teacher in an awkward encounter which I hoped would be more meaningful and emotional. I felt nothing worth mentioning. Nothing I did seemed to affect me after I came back here. One would assume I would have found some meaning and comfort in all that. But I didn’t. I had left the country and erased my previous life without any thought, as I adapted to my new way of life in another country.
It is all different now. All the influential people and experiences I had in my life prior to the war are still as vivid in my memory as they always were, except I am not as passive This time around. I want to meet my old math teacher, Mr. Pratt, and have a long conversation with him about the wife he used to tell me about ( back then, she was his fiancé) and about his life. I want to meet Mr. McWain and tell him that I am not an english major student but I have an awkward passion for writing poetry and online blogs. I want to go visit the house that also served as a classroom of my now deceased music teacher, Mr. Wright. He was a great mentor regardring life as well as music. He patiently taught me how to play the piano and recorder. He was older than my other teachers, and thus, was the wise one, in the eyes of my 9-year-old self. I regret being shy back then, because that stopped me from being myself and thus not appreciating such a passionate teacher. I want to visit my old school. I want to go to the Sierra Leone Museum, the first museum I ever went to.
This time, I want to be aware. I want to find some comfort from my past life. I am older, and things tend to have more meaning now, I want to revive my childhood memories of a life that was stolen overnight by terror and fear.
Note: Most people in Sierra Leone, women, men, and kids, had a horrible and uncomparable situation in this civil war.
I will leave you with a picture of the natural beauty of Sierra Leone.