Friday, January 16, 2009

What it was like - a summary

[this section is continued above]

So on July 4th in 1968 we left from a very hot Philadelphia after listening to Hubert Humphrey give a 4th of July speech at the Liberty Bell. I remember that day well - the summer humidity and intense heat bouncing off the street and the sidewalks may have been hotter and more uncomfortable than anything we faced in West Africa. I knew that Hubert Humphrey liked to talk - but what he said that day - except for the usual inane platitudes - I have no memory. I think he was vice president then so what perhaps I was most impressed with was the security - men with high powered rifles sitting on building tops around Liberty Mall watching us as we listened to Humphrey. We had done all the required staging for heading off to Africa. I had seen the required dentist to make sure my teeth were ok, we had last minute physicals, we went to a few conferences, we filled out all the papers that Peace Corps wanted, and that evening we checked out of that Philadelphia hotel (I do not remember its name), all 160 of us boarded a American Airways plane, and with party atmosphere headed east out of Philly toward Africa. We had said goodbyes to our family - I remember Susan's father in tears. The trip across the Atlantic was festive, exciting, and tiring. It was also long. After a long night's flight early morning found us skirting the cloudy and rainy African coast. My first visions as I remember them were of mangrove swamps and palm trees. I think I was also surprised at how low our pilot was flying. In and out of low clouds and rain as we headed to Lungi Airport in Freetown. By mid morning the pilot announced to us that he was having trouble negotiating landing privileges at Lungi. Apparently - we were to learn this later - he had actually been refused landing privileges. Of this we knew nothing - in the cabin we partied on, some slept, and I looked out the window at the mysterious land. For many miles the pilot flew at what looked to me to be about 3000 feet or so, varying only as the wind seemed to buffet us to some degree. And then all of a sudden he made the break and apparently without any guidance he made the landing at Lungi. We were warned not to disembark. The engines were cut - the airconditioning was off - we remained in the cabin, and waited. For some the party continued. For others we watched. None of us were nervous as wasn't this how Africa worked. No expectations we waited, as the pilot negotiated by radio with Lungi officials, with soldiers, and with Sierra Leone officials. For six hours we talked, sang, drank, joked, and patiently waited for negotiations to be fruitful. Darkness came and at one point soldiers with machine guns came on board to look us over (wasn't this how things worked in West Africa?). The air was damp, the torrents of rain outside beat on the plane, from time to time there was lightening and thunder - we waited to get word to disembark. Finally at about mid evening permission from somewhere came, public transport came to the tarmac, and out we went, boarding the many lorries. Freetown was dark as we drove. The humidity was soaking, the smells of Freetown new and mysterious. We were transported to Fourah Bay College, the Sierra Leone university sitting in the mountains above Freetown. Most of us were done in by the long day, and the heat and humidity. Susan and I got our room assignment at one of the dormitories, got our two sheets and our mosquito netting, grabbed our luggage which was minimal and went off to bed. Our quarters were spartan but adequate. Up early the next morning to scout out the campus and take a few pictures, we ate an "English" breakfast at the university cafeteria and then headed to meetings. Outside our meeting a black spitting cobra caused some trouble - and workmen nearby saw to it that it was mutilated. I remember being soaked through with sweat - my clothes were drenched. Our first day was sunny even though this was the height of the rain season. Low clouds whizzed by - we were in the mountains. View from the college of Freetown and the Bay were spectacular. In our meeting we learned that others thought we were mercenaries (the papers called us white mercenaries). Recent instability in the Sierra Leone government with several coups had made many leary of us. This fear and attention rapidly wained. Dignitaries from the Department of Education welcomed us to their country. Some evoked flowery remembrance of John Kennedy. After the previous night of delay - it felt good to finally be in country. Peace Corps wanted us to train in language and so we all began twice daily - 8 hours of daily language training in Krio with language instructors from the University. Our's was Francis Baryoh. The method used to get us conversant was the Rassias method. For me this was perfect and I learned quickly. Day 1 I understood nothing - by the first week I was surviving, and by the second week I was trying out my phrases on Sierra Leoneans. They loved that we made the effort and were thrilled that we were trying - they were also thrilled to help out. Krio is the patois of Sierra Leone. Although laced with English is is at times difficult to hear and understand. It took a while to get used to. The key to its use for me was being comfortable using it with Sierra Leoneans. Most volunteers were either intimidated or embarassed at first as they staggered through trying to communicate. What was helpful was that Sierra Leoneans loved the effort and were always more than willing to help out. It was this practice that made one comfortable - this daily practice. Krio had its own beauty - a wonderful litany of sayings and a wonderful way of description and observation. Many sayings were very inciteful and funny.

For two months we practice taught at a summer school while living with a Krio family in Freetown. We were assigned to live with Mrs. Lottie Nelson-Williams, a middle aged woman whose husband had been jailed in the recent coup (his name was Claude Nelson-Williams. We never met him). Lottie was a gracious woman. Kind to us, and amused by Peace Corp volunteers, she welcomed us into her family at 77 Pademba Road. With her were a number of children, some elders, and lots of help. I estimate that she was about 50 but could be wrong in this regard. Our quarters were comfortable but spartan in this wooden 3 story house so typical of the homes of Freetown. It was probably built in the early 1900's. Downstairs was a photo shop and on the second floor we were given a room with adjacent access to a porch overlooking the street. We had a small bathroom down the hall from us. Out back, in the back yard was the kitchen where food was prepared in a sheltered area on an open coal and wood fire. Many neighboring yards adjoined ours. Next door were several Peace Corps from or group being quartered with neighbors. The roof was metal and when rain came the pounding on the roof was a drumming that was loud enough to drown out speech. Each morning we left - headed to teach at the summer school - and then headed to continued language practice. At home we had food prepared for us but they knew of Americans aversion to pepper and thus were kind to us in this regard. At first we were anxious - and even the "English chop" that they made us seemed somewhat exotic. Crab, dried fish, eggs, chicken - we avoided the vegetables even though in retrospect they were probably well-cooked and ok. When we got the chance we would head downtown to grab a "hamburger" at a local "Syrian" restaurant. Mama Lottie was fun - she was very worldly and had had Peace Corps guest before. She loved to joke - she loved to visit with her to family and friends - but she was never willing to talk about her jailed husband or about politics. We lived with her in her creaky but colorful home from mid July until August then headed to Njala University College about 60 miles up-country to be trained in agriculture and continue our language training. Moving to Njala was in some ways a relief. Freetown was crowded and much of the time I felt like I was in a fishbowl. At Njala we again were living in dorm rooms at a well-equipped college and this allowed us to relax again. It was also a bit more airy upcountry. At Njala we learned how to grow rice and other crops - we were lectured in this by University of Illinois agriculture experts - and this was new and interesting for us. Food at Njala was bland (no pepper) but we were served African chop such as ground nut stew and Jollife rice. I am sure there were other meals as well. Language study went well.

In late August our assignments came through - Susan and I were assigned to the Eastern Provine and the then new Holy Rosary Secondary School and Teacher's Training College. Sure I was a bit anxious - heading off on our own after having the support of a big group. But off we went - about a half day trip to Kenema from Njala. There we met Jim Alrutz who was Eastern Province Director of the Peace Corps. He took us to meet the head of school, an Irish sister named Sister Miriam Joseph (later known as Sister Tracey I think when the sisters took back their Christian names). Shown to our house on the school compound we unpacked what little we had brought (the rest of our stuff was to be shipped by the Peace Corps from Freetown). I have described our quarters in another post - suffice it to say that our house was relatively modern, bright (the walls were painted yellow) and we had plenty of room. Our modest kitchen was outside - we also had an outside latrine and an outside shower. In one room we had a bath tub. Our water came from a reservoir in the nearby Kambui Hills, gravity fed to our roof where there was a holding tank. The water needed to be boiled and filtered - something we did daily. From time to time the filter would clog and we had to clean the scum off in order to get it to filter properly. In those days there was no bottled water so what we had on the road was either Vimto, an imported soda from the UK, or Star Beer (the locally brewed beer), or at times other soft drinks from the UK. And from time to time some very interesting things would come out of our tap. I remember one long tapeworm like looking creature that I was never able to identify. At home we kept cold water in our kerosene fridge. Our fridge, one of the few in our area, was small. At its bottom was a small tank that we kept filled with kerosene. There was a wick that we kept lit. From time to time I had to trim the wick to keep it working efficiently. From time to time I would haul a gallon of kerosene from town to keep our supply ready. Somehow this fridge worked and we could even make ice cubes in the very small freezer. Food did not keep well and if not used had to be discarded as the tropical climate did a job on any food after a time. We chose to eat local shopping in the Kenema market. We did eat "English Chop" from time to time but as we became more used to the pepper, and slowly acquired a taste for local food we mostly ate local. Our neighbor Sabina Garlough did our cooking. Each night one of her kids would bring us a large plate of rice and sauce (potato leaf, casava leaf). This would be mixed with palm oil making the rice and orange-red color. By two months this became our staple. There was a local bread maker that we used. We ate snacks from the market women (ground nuts, oranges, pineapple, cakes). Clearly, overtime African food became our staple as the pepper became tolerable and the food very tastey - at least for me. I ate a daily ration of a large amount of roasted groundnuts several times per week - this making up my lunch. The women at the school market kept me in supply in this regard. Our nightly rice and "plasas" (sauce) were supplied by Mama Sabina. We were very well fed as often, as I walked home from trips to Kenema people would holler out, "cum lewi it no," or "a wa mu meheme'" asking me to eat with them. To refuse could be rude although there were times when I explained that I had just eaten and I was, "very well-satisfied." [In Mende "Ngi mehemia sange."] When I did stop to eat people were amused, and always offered me a spoon. For some reason they did not expect white men to eat with their hands.
The times we did buy food at "cold storage" in Kenema we did make our own food. Food there was expensive and this was something we did only occasionally. Susan lost her interest as she found the food less palatable then I did. There were lunches of my favorite - peanut butter and jelly from time to time.

Our days revolved around teaching. I taught General Science and Math (they called it Maths) and as already noted in another posting, I was the school netball coach. Netball was for me a peculiar game imported from the U.K. - a bit like basketball but also a lot unlike basketball. I was thankful that our students knew the rules, and how to play. My job was to see that they practiced, and from time to time we had games. I was forced to learn the rules as I was called on for refereeing. School began at about 8 am - classes were 45 minutes. Many of my classes would be laced with local expressions in Krio, in Mende, and even at times in Temne. This always provoked giggling among my students - I think because my pronunciation was at times off, but also because this was not commonly done by the other teachers. I found that from time to time my Krio or Mende expressions got their attention - made them confortable - and always made them laugh. School days were purely academic as we were not required to meet any of the religious aspects of the school as this was the sole responsibility of the sisters. The school day ended in early afternoon and often the remained of the day would consist of heading to Kenema to get food or other goods, would be spent traveling with one of our friends to visit someone in a local village nearby (more often this would be done on the weekend). In the rain season you could expect heavy rain sometimes with a daily periodicity to it. The rain could be very heavy, sometimes with heavy wind, and lightening and thunder. Traveling on bush roads was often likely to result in meeting up with unexpected snakes, or even, on occasion with a large chimpanzee. I believe I once was confronted by a young gorilla as we passed nearby the River Moa. He pounded his chest, then scattered into the deeper bush as Patrick and I wondered what our next move was going to be. When the Bundu was out I was likely to be nearby taking pictures. Many times I was contacted by my neighbors who were aware of my interest in seeing everything and so when there was a Bundu event going on, or when the Bundu spirit was out, or when there was going to be a "sing," in the area, someone would come by and let me know. In my red travel bag I carried two cameras because one would be loaded with slide film and one would be loaded with black and white film. Any of the pictures I took could then be developed (the B&W) and since I had a small enlarger and developing pans i.e. a primitive dark room, I could thus print up any shots that had been asked for and give them away. This might take my next trip to the area - but the pictures were always appreciated. In our neighborhood there were three schoolboys who would come and watch the dark room work - these boys - Momo and his brother Mansaray Vandy, and Senesi Edward Lahai. I suspect that there are still many of those pictures still existing in the Kenema area. I do know of one that I took of a baby named Jeneba Kpaka that still exists. Her family came to Brooklyn, N.Y. to escape the war and when I discussed this with them (i.e. that I had taken her picture) her parents informed me that they still had the picture. She is now about 39 years old.
I have been an avid photographer since the early 1960's and while in Sierra Leone took many photos, portraits, scenery, and some wildlife. I was rarely out of our house without a camera. I shot with a Nikon FtN and an older Pentax H1a in those days. I could buy film in Kenema, and could also get 8x10 black and white paper and chemicals for printing. I shot mostly with Agfa color film, ocassional Kodachromes, and Tri-X and Plus-X film from Kodak. Even Kodak chemicals were available. My enlarger came from a Peace Corps volunteer named Mark Davis. He and his then wife Margaret came from the New York City area - I think Brooklyn and had been in the group just before us. They both taught at the Holy Trinity Secondary School in Kenema. We overlapped with them in Kenema for a short time and got to know them. From Mark I bought the enlarger and developing pans and also a tape recorder.

Many weekends we either stayed in Kenema and hiked about, or traveled to other areas of the country just to visit and tour. Our trips in-country included Lunsar and Port Loko, Makeni, Daru (to visit Pa Daru - a weaver), several trips to Freetown, Joro, Panguma, Bo, Kabala, Magburaka, Masanga Leprasarium (where we worked for two months), Kono, the international market at Koidu, and lots of other areas. We always traveled by Public Transport (Lorries), and this was often a hassle, because of delays, overcrowding, dusty and hot roads, and occasional accidents. We learned quickly how to work the system and so despite all the trials it never was too bad. Our one accident was near Bo where the driver was going much too fast for the wet road conditions. He lost control and tipped over. We were in the back and Susan received a scalp laceration and was knocked out but I was one of the few unscathed. Needless to say we were lucky. There were few paved roads in those days and when the road was dusty the riders in back got covered with grit. In the rains the roads became treacherous and very slippery. The drivers were many times daredevils and I felt often took too many risks. This might involve racing another vehicle for a bridge of one lane, and driving much too fast for the road conditions. In the back of the lorry as many as 15 or so people could be placed making you feel like a packed can of sardines. Our school sponsored trips were a pleasure. The school had a white VW van and a driver (named Peter) from Ghana. Although he was a bit of a "cowboy," this travel was comfortable as there was plenty of room. In those days vehicles did not have airconditioning so travel was still hot and dusty - but the absence of overcrowding was wonderful. There were no seatbelts in those days. I remember our one school trip to Pujehun in the southern province to play netball against HRSS there. We certainly were able to get about the country with effort - and although from time to time we did visit other volunteers throughout the country most of our efforts were directed to seeing interesting sites, visiting exotic or far away places, and each March in trekking to Bintimani.

The northern tier of Sierra Leone was remote and had a frontier feeling to it. My two trips there and to Bintimani (the highest mountain) were for me fascinating. Tucked up against Guinea this area of the Yalunkas and Kuranko had a drier climate than the rain forest of Kenema. As was true everywhere in Sierra Leone the people were friendly and welcoming. It was getting there that was the challenge (see my earlier posting about travel to Bintimani). I am sure that at times the few who came to hike up Bintamani were looked upon with some puzzlement. Here we were, on our vacation time from teaching, in this very remote section of the country. The 20 miles in from Kurobonla was through the hot savannah country, where day time temps could approach 120. Once up on the mountain it was pleasant - cool at night and comfortable during the day. From the summit you could look out on silence toward Liberia to the southeast, over Sierra Leone, and to Guinea to the north and east. In the village where we stayed - Sokurella - people were curious about us - yet welcomed us and allowed us to stay in the village. We tented there and people were amused by this (this was on my second visit to the area in March 1970). The challenge was always potable water which we carried with us or boiled on a portable primus stove (white gas) that I carried with me. We ate rice and sauce in Sokurella cooked by one of the women. At night we went to bed early except for one night when there was a very impressive sing and dance that we think was associated with the coming out of the Bundu girls there.

From time to time we traveled to Freetown either to get our Peace Corps gamma globulin shots that we were required to get every 6 months or to visit the sites, see our Freetown family (the Nelson-Williams), or to visit with friends. We found little to do in Freetown. Near the cotton tree where liberated slaves had been set free was the Museum of Sierra Leone that from time to time we visited. This was small, and organized by help from an earlier Peace Corps volunteer (was his name Gary Schulz?). We might buy some Garrah and the local market - we also did this in Makeni and other places. In our two years we were never to leave the country. On occasion we would go to Lumley Beach - a beautiful beach close by Freetown.

In the summer between our first and second year we worked at the Masanga Leprasarium. I have written about this on another posting. The work was interesting - the people I worked with were enjoyable.
After this 8 weeks of work I remember coming home to our house which was (inside) covered with a green velvet mold that had grown on our table while we were away. This was the rain season when days were so very humid - a veritable petri dish environment. We worked hard getting the house back together before preparing for our second year of teaching. Back on Dama Rd we greeted all our friends whom we had not seen while working at Masanga.

We easily resumed our daily routines and started our second year of teaching at HRSS. The second year involved a larger school and two forms. Some of our first year students did not return - I suspect school fees or marriage may have been the issue. Our staff became larger with a new sister from Ireland (Sr. Mary Ibar) added to the staff. Susan continued to teach history and English and I continued to teach Maths and General Science. I was the only man on the staff at school and Susan and I remained the only lay staff. I think Sister Ibar may have taught science and math also. I remember that Sr. Miriam Joseph (Sr. Tracey) ran a tight ship. She was strict but a realist. In her hands her high standards were to make this school one of the best in the provinces. Our contacts were with Sr. principal (Sr. Tracey), Sr. Ibar (Sr Celia Doyle), and Sr. Adrian (Sr. Kathleen Tolland). There was a Mother Superior who we had little contact with except on occasion to say hello to, or on a rare occasion - when invited to the main house, to eat dinner with. We did get to know (at that time) Father Ganda. He was the first Sierra Leonean to become a Catholic Priest, and during our second year he became Bishop of Kenema (or the Eastern Province). He was Mende, he came from a well-known family, and many of the students (especially in the TTC) were quite proud of him. From time to time we ate dinner at his house which, although outside the school compound, was nearby. Father Ganda could be outspoken. Many wonderful discussions were had at his dinner table. He was unusual in that he was unafraid of expressing himself politically. I suspect that this came from his faith. Dinners with Father Ganda were always interesting. I also saw him daily as he would pass by our house on the way to the Church. A tall man with glasses, he had a very studious appearance. He was later to become Bishop of all of Sierra Leone. I believe that recently (about 2007 or 2008) he has officially retired.
The religious duties at HRSS were the sister's responsibility. It was at this time (1969-70) that the Teacher's Training College was winding down with the last class. Many of these women would go on to become community educators and leaders - of this I was sure. They were smart, serious, took their responsibilities with seriousness, and were determined to do a good job. The nice part of knowing these future teachers was that they really knew they were leaders and took their responsibilities with a fervor. I have often wondered what became of many of them.
My teaching at HRSS was mediocre as I saw it. I did not think I was a great teacher. I did enjoy the students. HRSS was very well-equipped and well run. I was not all that impressed with the sylabus which I found too oriented to the UK and not enough about Sierra Leone or even West Africa. That is not to say that they did not need to learn about the UK or Europe, but when my science teaching was about the flora and fauna of the British Isles I found this puzzling. I adjusted my teaching in this regard and added local flora and fauna to my classes. From time to time we were invited to the "big house," to eat dinner cooked by Pa Joseph Cook (Pa Joseph Simbo). The convent was spotless, a large house near the front of the school compound where the sisters all lived. They were nice to invite us for our holiday of Thanksgiving, or for Susan's birthday, or for Christmas dinner. I think my presence there was a source of amusement but the sisters were always welcoming and kind to me. They ate (in those days) what the locals called "English chop," and Pa Joseph (Cook) Simbo had been their cook for years. I think he had prior experience in the West African Expeditionary Forces during WWII. The disappointment about eating there was their desserts especially their cake with frosting. Unlike cake what I was used to in the states theirs was fruit cake inside and an almost rock-hard frosting - I did not like it. They often had boiled meat from the Kenema cold storage, and a vegetable. By that time I had become used to "African chop," and even our rare attempts at American cooking seemed quite bland in comparison to the hot (peppery) rice and "plasas."

In Kenema we rarely ate out except to visit at other people's houses - there were no restaurants in those days. Nights were quiet in Kenema. There was a movie theater (Capitol Cinema) which was about 3 miles from where we lived, on the other side of Kenema from us. They showed grade B moves (an Italian cowboy movie called "Jango Strikes Back" comes to mind). The movies were often laced with previews about "Al-Fatah" training as the theater was owned and run by a Lebanese man. This usually made me a bit uncomfortable. Although we did go to a few movies there - they were of such poor quality that our visits there were rare. It was also inconvenient to go there at night since the roadway was dark coming home, and long.
Kenema itself had a large downtown with stores run by Lebanese or Indians. The stores would be on the ground floor and above them would be their apartments. Kenema also had a few banks (Barclays, Sierra Leone Bank), and also a number of hardware and food stores. There was also a very large local market for food. There was a post office, police station, soldiers quarters, and government quarters. The major industry in town was the Forest Industry - where furniture was made, and the diamond industry which was headquartered in Kenema. Most of the diamond digging was to our east in Kono.
I bought my photo supplies in an Indian store (Chellaram's), and we bought our kerosene for the refrigerator there. We used the local market for rice. Occasionallky we bought supplies at the cold storage store. On the street we would buy from the many local salesmen who walked about. If I saw a piece of garrah that I liked (usually the design or occasionally the color) we would haggle with the hawker until we got a reasonable price for the garrah lappa (a lappa was a sheet about the size of a small bedsheet that had been either dyed with the local indigo dye, or which had been made into a wax-print). There were stores where I did buy sandals for walking about, but for the most part our clothes held up fine. Susan did find a local tailor who was a genius. She could bring him a picture of something or some style that she wanted and he could reproduce it perfectly. He also made me shirts from the tie-dye that we occasionally purchased. He had a small room downtown that we would bring our cloth to. In one week he would have crafted either a dress for Susan or a fine African shirt for me.
Most of the time we walked downtown (Kenema) to shop - this was a distance of a mile or so. On occasion we would stop off at the Peace Corps office just to check in with Jim Alrutz - the Eastern Province Director. We could get some supplies there such as our Aralen phosphate - our Sunday to Sunday antimalarial medicine. For our other supplies such as soap and shampoo, toiletries, etc we were expected to live on the $35.00 per month that the Peace Corps gave us - they put away another $35.00 per month that we were to get on leaving the country at the end of our duty. This was $35 apiece - and we found this more than enough to live on. We were frequently able to deposit in the local bank one of these salaries. Of course going to the bank to make a deposit in those days was an adventure of its own. Everything was done by hand - there was no automation in those days and we were probably 15 or so years away from the first bank use of computers. We usually planned on deposits on a Saturday. For this you had to get in line early, wait your turn which could take an hour or more, then deposit the check which all was done by hand and could take another long time. Our deposits were made in the local Leones - and if I remember correctly we would deposit about Le 35 each time - this being either Susan's or my check for the month. Since we lived on less than Le 35 per month we had a nice bit of savings by the end of our second year. This was helpful in our return travel home. Banking in Kenema was a source of amazement for us - as it took several hours for us to get through it and was a constant source of joking between us. The system did work for the most part however.
Banking was not the only interaction that we took part in as already noted. It was perhaps the most tedious however. Bargaining for something in the market, or for a beautifullly designed tie-dye lappa was something we learned. What you did learn was that usually something could be had for at least half the initial asking price, and sometimes for a third of the price. The typical interaction involved being approached by one of the men (or occasionally women) selling say a piece of garrah (they knew that Peace Corps liked these things) and say the asking price would initially be Le 4. You would feign initial interest but disinterest when the price was announced. You might say that it was too much, and ask if it could be lessened ( in Krio - "You no go less mi?"). Back and forth the banter would go until many times you would agree on a Le 2 purchase with both parties being happy. I personally loved the banter back and forth - and especially loved the tye-dyed material. It was rare to be able to purchase Country-cloth on the street or in the market. Of all the textiles made in Sierra Leone this what I loved the most. I had studied how it was made, and the history of its traditional importance to the Mende. The tye-dye was beautiful but the country-cloth was simpler, was a throwback to earlier times, and for me was something that I sought. By the late 1960's it was becoming a craft that was becoming obsolete. It was labor intensive. There were diminishing weavers who were able to do the work, and the cotton was all-grown along with the rice. From the growing of the cotton, to the making of the cotton thread, to the dyeing of the tread (either indigo or brown or kola colored), to the setting up of the Mende loom, to the making of the cloth - this all took time. For the locals it was becoming easier to just buy the imported material (from Holland or from Europe) and dye it. Europe was sending their cloth by the yards - and the making of country cloth was dying out. I was able - with effort - to find sources to either make me country cloth or at least sell me some. The style was in colored strip and was only rarely more complicated. I was able to find a man in Daru - a town about 30 miles from us - named Pa Brimah Daru - who did make me a large piece with an intricate weave. I remember it being very "dear," but I was willing to pay the price. I also traveled about from time to time taking pictures of weavers at work. In this area (Kenema) it was the men who universally did the weaving. Their simple tripod looms would be set up in their yard outside the house and usually during the dry season they would do their work. It was the women who grew the cotton, picked it, carded it, and made the thread. Then the thread would be handed over to the men who would set up their looms and weave long sections which when completed would be sewed together into the country cloth. The striped cloth would be with dark and light blue stripes to varying brown stripes. In earlier times this would then be tailored into country clothes such as men's dress shirts or women's lappas (bottom coverings). Even a man's hat might be made from this material. To some degree this material in those days was worn by the country man as European dress was more likely to be worn by school boys, or people with more worldly experience. On occasion however, a well-educated person might wear something of country cloth as a sign of his pride in his past or in his people's past. It was not totally uncommon to see someone at a special occasion with "native" country cloth but as already noted this was rapidly diminishing by the late 1960's. For me - the textile that I most admired and collected was Country-Cloth.

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